How to fix a water damaged iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S or 4

So your prized iPhone went for a swim! And now, it doesn’t seem to have any life. Getting your iPhone water damaged is a dreading experience. But trust me, repairing a liquid damaged iPhone is not that scary as it might sound. In most of the cases, you can recover it from the liquid damage completely. Let’s see how.

Things to do when your iPhone comes in contact with liquid:

  • Remove the battery immediately if possible.
  • Don’t try to plug-in/charge your water damaged iPhone. Also, don’t try to switch it on. In fact, you should immediately switch off the phone if it’s not already. This will prevent any further damage because of short circuit.
  • Don’t use hair dryer. The heat from hair dryer may damage any component. Also, the air flow might push the liquid far inside making it difficult to clean.

This tutorial comes from my personal experience.

fix water damaged iphone

I bought a water damaged iPhone 4s

So it happened that I needed a new screen for my existing iPhone 4S that I had managed to crack. Apple said no to screen replacement at my location. I had no other choice but to go for after-market screens available in repair shops. But I was worried about the quality.

Then I thought of buying an old non-working iPhone 4S from eBay. It’s possible to pick up one such phone from eBay at cheap prices. And the assurance that the screen will be Apple’s original. Wow, it was good idea.

So, I picked up one online from eBay and waited for the shipment to arrive. Within few days, the phone was in my hands. I opened the phone, following an online tutorial. The new iPhone had corrosion inside indicating liquid  damage. Anyways, I carefully cleaned everything using a PCB cleaner and toothbrush. Finally, I took out the motherboard from my existing iPhone and put into the new phone. Hurrah, it was working perfectly. I was happy.

What happened to the water damaged iPhone

Even though my core mission was accomplished, I had a water damaged iPhone with bad logic-board and my old shattered screen of-course. Hoping to get something more out of my purchase. My next mission was to fix the water damaged logic-board to see if it works.

Just to break the suspense, yes, it was a successful mission. I am going to explain how even you can accomplish this. This tutorial includes the experience I gained from this adventure and fixing countless of other water damaged iPhones.

How to fix the water damaged iPhone’s logic board

Mostly, it’s the logic-board/motherboard that gets damaged due to liquid contact. There are very thin and small circuits on the board. Even very little amount of liquid may cause a short preventing booting of the phone.

There are three ways to recover from liquid damage.

  1. Bowl of Uncooked Rice,
  2. Moisture absorbing agent and
  3. Cleaning the complete board with alcohol solution like IsoPropyl Alcohol(70%-90%)

 Bowl of Uncooked Rice:

It works best with water damage (not good with other liquid damages) and when you put the phone into rice within few hours of getting wet. Many people swear by this method.

  • All you have to do is, put your wet iPhone into a bowl of uncooked rice. It’s uncooked rice…pls keep in mind, not cooked rice :)
  • Cover it completely with the rice.
  • Leave it like this for 24-72 hours.

Rice is a very good moisture absorbent. It should absorb all or most of the water inside the phone within 24-72 hours. Take it out after that and try to switch on. Most probably it should work.

Moisture absorbing agent

When there is a severe water damage, you need a better and proper moisture absorbent than rice. The method is same as earlier. You just place the phone with moisture absorbing agent rather than putting it into rice. A good water rescue kit works within 6-24 hours and 600-700% more effective than rice.

You can pick one of such water rescue kit from Amazon for cheap as shown below.

Cleaning the complete board with alcohol solution like IsoPropyl Alcohol

This is the last method when liquid damage is extremely severe. It’s also useful when you are not able to use above two methods within few hours of liquid damage and liquid has gone deeper inside. I will work with any sort of liquid damage like tea, coffee, beer etc.

However, you’ll need to open your iPhone for this.

Required Tools:

  • iPhone opening/repair kit
  • IsoPropyl Alcohol solution for cleaning,
  • A toothbrush and
  • little bit of courage

Given below pics of the required tools so that you can get one for you.

iPhone opening/repair tool:

IsoPropyl Alcohol solution for cleaning:

Or you can buy a complete set like the one shown below:

Go for a cheaper tool if it’s just one time activity. However, go for a better tool kit if you are into DIY and keep requiring such equipment.

Cleaning the water/liquid damaged iPhone:

Now that you have the required tools, you’ll need to open your iPhone and clean it properly and thoroughly.

There is nice youtube video showing how to open the phone given below:

There is a very nice step by step guide at ifixit on how to open different models of iPhone. You can find them here

Don’t forget to remove the metal covers in the motherboard. You’ll find them when you take out the motherboard from the phone. Many important components like baseband, RAM, Memory, Processing chip etc are covered with a metal sheet to protect them from liquid. However, when the liquid damage is sever, it might reach inside those covers.

Your problem may be hidden behind those covers if you fail to properly clean them.
Clean the complete board gently with the brush. Spray the Isopropyl cleaner all over the board. Be liberal with the usage of cleaning liquid. It won’t harm any of the component of the board.

Once you are sure about cleaning each and every part of the board thoroughly, give it some time to dry. Put every thing back together once dried and try to switch it on.
Let me know if it worked for you.

PS: Please share this tutorial with your friends. You never know who might need this info.

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