Busting the myths around what to do with water-damaged phones

1 February 2017

When the weather has played ball this summer, for many it’s been time to head to the beach.

But trying to find the perfect place to pop your towel, and watching out for mozzies isn’t the only irritation.

Too many of us have paddled into the waves, only to find your phone’s still in your pocket!

Panic sets in over - it cost you $1,000 and, what’s more, you are still paying off the contract.

You drive home running through the possibilities of how to fix it – maybe just put it in the hot water cupboard? Give it a blast with the hair dryer? She’ll be right – right?

Wrong. “Myths abound about what to do if you get your phone wet, but in reality, there are only a couple of home-remedies that work” says Andrew Lobb of repair company fonefix.

Here’s a list of urban legends/myths about what to do if your phone goes for a swim.

Myth #1

Put your phone in an oven or microwave [That’s right, there are people who have tried this - effectively creating a possible explosive]

Myth #2

A popular method with women is to whip out the hair-dryer. Sometimes it can work, but you can also cook the parts, so not recommended.

Myth #3

Go to Google for the answer – it’s easy to fix a phone! No, it’s not easy, especially if it’s badly-damaged.

Lobb says there are some reasonably safe home remedies  - including the rice method.

“It’s simple – you just need to get a container, fill it with uncooked rice, and then power off your phone and put it in the rice for 2-3 days,” he says.

“Another big no-no is don’t charge the phone or keep it on. Some people think that they need to keep the phone warm but you can destroy it.”

“Having said that, some  of our technicians believe that uncooked rice isn’t the best liquid absorber, and leaving it on the windowsill may be better than anything else,” says Lobb.

There are also silicon gel bags on the market, which will probably do a similar job to rice, says Lobb.

“The main thing is to get the liquid out of there as soon as possible, within one to two days,” he says.

It’s better if you can remove the battery as soon as possible, says Lobb, however most phones don’t have easily removable batteries, and it’s advisable to get a technician on the job.

Liquid damage to phones is common, up there with smashed screens, says Lobb. 

People are careless and often drop their phone in the toilet, sink, bath or sea.

“The hardest liquid to deal with is sea-water, which is particularly difficult to remove as its corrosive.”

How do you know if the phone needs to go to a repairer?

“You generally can tell pretty quickly if you need to take it to a repairer – like if the water gets in and around the battery, or if you see water inside the back camera module, or any discolouration,” he says.

If the phone has been fully submerged in liquid, then it needs to go to a qualified repairer, says Lobb.

Vodafone’s head of devices Todd Hardie says phones are made to high quality standards, yet can only take so much.

“We have all seen or heard about it before, people walking in the rain using their phone or listening to music in the shower – this can all cause water damage.

“We encourage people to treat their phone with care and respect.”

Vodafone recommends to consumers to take their phone to an authorised repairer if it is damaged.

“You can’t be sure of the quality of the parts or the workmanship if you take it to someone who isn’t authorised and you may be voiding the warranty,” he says.

Often people who are on contract, paying off a phone, get a nasty shock when their phone is damaged. For the majority they still have to pay off the phone, he says.

“We recommend that people get insurance. It’s always worth it. ”

Busting the myths around what to do with water-damaged phones