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OriginalCunningFox's avatar

Any way to fix my phone?

Asked by OriginalCunningFox (383points) November 18th, 2015

Well, long story short my Motorolla Moto X took a short swim in the hot tub last night. I pulled it out right away and dried it off with a towel then turned it on and it seemed to be working well. That was probably a mistake because I read that you should actually turn it off and put it in rice overnight. Too late for that now lol.
The phone still works fine (using it now), except my camera doesn’t work now and sound only works with headphones :/

I’m guessing the warranty doesn’t cover water damages but I’ll have to check on that still.

I also read that you can fix water damage by soaking your phone in isopropyl alcohol. Buuut I’m really weary of trying this…sounds sketchy.

SO…does anyone have any ideas or is this a lost cause?
(Btw, the SIM tray slides out but that’s about it for pulling the phone apart. The back cover only comes off if you use like special tools.)

Thanks for any help! :)

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22 Answers

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I am thinking since you turned the phone back on while there was maybe moisture inside, you shorted something out, in which case, nothing will bring it back. Those circuits are so small even static you would feel from walking across carpet would be enough to short some of them out.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

What you should have done is shut it down, open it up and disconnect the battery. Phones with integrated batteries are harder but still doable. Rice is ineffective, what it takes is desiccant that can be sealed in a zip lock with it.

ibstubro's avatar

I forwarded your question to a couple of the in-house experts to see if they can give you a definitive answer, @OriginalCunningFox.

jerv's avatar

The warranty specifically and explicitly does not cover damage from water or excess moisture.

And no, isopropyl alcohol can only drive out water; it cannot repair damage already done by short circuits.

ibstubro's avatar

No hope for camera and sound, @jerv?

Isn’t isopropyl alcohol 90% water?

filmfann's avatar

I wouldn’t try the alcohol.
Try the rice, but the phone probably will fail in 3 or 4 months from corrosion

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d put it in a sealed bag of rice. That worked for a phone that tool a swim in the toilet.
The rice absorbs water. You might get lucky.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m really weary of trying this

I think you mean “wary” (cautious, apprehensive) and not “weary” (tired).

Cruiser's avatar

I have been a long time Verizon customer and recently upgraded my phone and found out that all Verizon locations have a “speed dryer” that you can walk in hand them your soaked cell phone and in an hour have your phone restored to working condition. They did say you can increase your odds for recovery to full working order if you immediately take the battery out after fishing your phone our of the water.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser Many phones don’t have removable batteries though, especially not iPhones.

@ibstubro Considering it’s the main ingredient in Iso Heet™ dry gas, I hope not! I mean, I rely on that stuff to take water out of my gas tank!

ibstubro's avatar

Medical isopropyl alcohol is 50% water, and the water is going to evaporate a heck of a lot slower than the alcohol.
I just checked the medicine cabinet.

LuckyGuy's avatar

No no!!! The reason alcohol “dries out” gasoline is because it acts like soap and allows the water to go into solution with the gasoline. The mix then gets sucked out of the tank and into the engine.
Putting it in the phone will still leave the water behind when it evaporates – only now the water will have moved somewhere else.

jerv's avatar

@ibstubro Ah, I see. I just checked my own medicine cabinet and the isopropyl alcohol we have is only 9% water, but it’s also a different formula than dry gas.

OriginalCunningFox's avatar

Thank you all for your answers.
I am currently on my laptop and my phone is sitting on the charger because now it does not hold charge for more than an hour or two and runs verrrrry slowly. Overheating so much it nearly burned a hole through my backpack today!
Good thing I’ve got all my stuff on it backed up. I think it’s time to say goodbye…

jerv's avatar

Yep, that’s a short, and a pretty major one at that.

Lithium-ion battery fires require special care to extinguish safely and keep them out, so you might want to get that taken care of ASAP before it does get to that point.

OriginalCunningFox's avatar

@jerv Oh jeez, that’s scary! Well, I’ll be sure to take care of that. Is it safer if I turn the phone completely off?

jerv's avatar


Personally, what I would do is let the battery go dead and not charge it. See, the heat is generated by electricity, so stopping the electricity will stop the heating, and there are two ways to stop electricity from flowing.

1) Physically isolate the battery from the circuit – In the old days, switches would actually open up contacts to disconnect the battery completely. But smartphones and computers often have a little trickle of power going all the time, checking to see if you pressed the button telling it to wake up the rest of the system.
Without knowing exactly where the short is, I’m not sure that turning it off would actually stop electricity from flowing to where the short is, and many phones these days have non-removable batteries, so physically isolating the battery is probably not happening.
If you can remove the battery, it would be safer to do so than to just turn it off. If you can’t, then we go to…

2) Drain the battery – If the battery is dead, it can’t heat up on it’s own because it won’t have enough juice to make the power flow. It might get scary-hot while it discharges, but unless you recharge it again, you’ll be fine once it’s drained.
And no, you can’t fix it by draining it completely and recharging! Any charge it has will turn to heat, so don’t give it any charge to use!

OriginalCunningFox's avatar

Such knowledge!
Thanks so much for all the help, I’ll definitely be taking for your advice and now I know what to do in case my next phone gets dropped into water.

jerv's avatar

Some of the newer phones are rated for various degrees of water protection.

Of those, some are rather nebulous about “water resistant” or “waterproof”, but there are some that are actually made to ISO standards on protection. For instance, IP67 is dustproof and can stay submerged in three feet of water for 30 minutes (minimum) while IP57 and IPx7 are less dustproof but just as watertight. If you want overkill, check this list and notice that in addition to some of the hardcore “use it for a hammer” phones, they also have the Sony Xperia and a few Samsungs.

OriginalCunningFox's avatar

Well I hope I’m not speaking too early and jinx it, but I left my phone alone for half the day and now it seems to be working alright. Even the camera and audio works fine. @jerv, do you think it’s just some last strength thing or could my phone have made a miracle recovery?

ibstubro's avatar

Maybe the tiniest little bit of moisture evaporated, finally, @OriginalCunningFox?

OriginalCunningFox's avatar

I hope so! It’s been working as if nothing ever happened since yesterday.

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