What to do when gadgets get wet
As we’ve seen on this week’s show, water and gadgetry do not make good partners. That’s because electronic circuitry is designed for electrical currents to travel down specific pathways. As soon as you get it wet, however, the water itself acts as a new pathway, and a gadget-guzzling short circuit is the result.
But even if your favourite kit does find itself going for an unplanned swim, all is not lost. From the practical to the bizarre, there are all kinds of suggestions for saving a waterlogged gadget..
Mobile phones Let’s say it’s your unlucky mobile phone that’s gone for an untimely splash. The first step is to remove covers, attachments and any other removable components, and dry each part with a cloth or ear bud. Never shake a gadget to clear the water – you could just as easily be sending the water further inwards, causing more damage. From there, one of the most common approaches is to use heat to dry your gadget. Just as we use the sun to dry wet clothes, so leaving a sodden gadget under a lamp should see the heat produced by the light bulb evaporate the moisture over time. Patience is the key here – too close to the lamp and you could end up with a melted mobile.
Cold calling But there’s another way to use the principles of heat – or more specifically the lack of it – to dry out a soggy gadget. Because cold air by nature holds less moisture than warm air, placing your wet mobile in the fridge will actually help to dry it out. Again, don’t get carried away. Keeping your phone in the fridge too long will make it so cold that it draws moisture right back out of the warmer air the moment you take it out. For a happy medium, aim for 20 minutes in the fridge, then 10 minutes out over the space of a few hours for best results.
Food for thought Continuing along food preparation lines, rice is claimed to be equally effective in drawing out moisture. Half-fill a bowl with rice, lay your damp mobile on top, then fill the remainder of the bowl with more rice, then put the bowl aside for a day or so and hopefully the rice will have magically sucked out as much moisture as possible and you’ll have a working phone again.
The case for alcohol Now it may well be that alcohol is what got you into trouble in the first place, so maybe it can get you out of trouble too. Methanol is an alcohol-based cleaning solution that is both flammable and poisonous – so handle it carefully – but it also absorbs water, either applied using a cloth or used as a water-diluted dunking solution. Don’t overdo it, though: methanol is corrosive, so could cause more damage than it fixes if given long enough.
Suck it up Our final suggestion is good, old-fashioned suction power. Switch on your vacuum cleaner and watch it forcefully remove all standing water – and any unwanted dust or dirt – in mere moments. Of course, the danger here is that anything not bolted down might go along with it, so make sure all components are firmly attached so they don’t get suctioned away into the bowels of your vacuum. Which is most effective? Well, it depends on the gadget, and how you go about things. But one thing is for sure: act quickly, and act calmly, and you may be able to save even the wettest of gadgets.
And if you’re in any doubt, contact the manufacturer – in the case of more expensive gadgets and devices such as digital cameras there are certified repair people who can help you with your wet-gadget woes – for a price of course…
Do you have any other tips for how to rescue your gadgets from a watery end? Let us know below…