Fresh Water Damage Diagnoses – iPhone

This guide is here to help you through the agony your mind received as you accidentally dropped your iPhone in water or any other form of liquid. Starting as soon as possible is suggested as liquid damage tends to worsen with the passing of time.

One of the most challenging of the DIY repairs, it is advised to seek professional help if you are really unsure about the path you are about to choose. This is a general guide which is common for all iPhones and smartphones though you might have to refer online from time to time, regarding the steps required for your specific iPhone.

Things you might need:-

  • Tweezers
  • Cleaning Cloth (Microfibre, preferred)
  • Detailing brush
  • Safety Glasses
  • Gloves
  • 91% Isopropyl Alcohol

Step 1

  • Remove the iPhone from the liquid as soon and as safely possible. Try to minimise the length of time the iPhone and liquid are in contact to minimise corrosion happening.

Note- Pay attention to personal safety first, and remove yourself from any potential shock hazard.

  • If your phone is still on when removed from the liquid, please attempt to turn it off. If it’s off, DO NOT, in any circumstance, attempt to turn it on. To Force Shut Down an iPhone 6s or older, press and hold the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons until the screen turns off. For iPhone 7, press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Volume Down buttons until the screen turns off.

Step 2

  • Hold the phone upright and gently tilt it from the side to drain as much liquid/water through its bottom when possible.

  • Use the cloth to dry any liquid present on the surface of the phone.

Step 3

  • Remove the phone’s display and battery, using appropriate guide for your specific model.

Note- Liquid damage complicates the disassembly. Be extra cautious if the battery appears to be damaged or swollen. If the battery shows signs of bubbling, bulging, or melting, gently remove it and place it in a glass, ceramic, or metal container for the right disposal.

  • Even if your battery looks fine, you should not reuse a lithium-ion battery that has come into contact with liquid, so please choose to replace it.

Step 4

  • Remove the SIM card tray with the help of the eject tool or a paperclip. The SIM Card tray location might vary depending on your model.

Step 5

    • iPhones possess liquid contact indicators (LCI) which are small white stickers that turn permanently red upon contacting with any liquid.

    • Check the LCIs if they have turned red for evidence of local liquid intrusion.

Step 6

  • If your phone was fully submerged for some amount of time, it is highly likely that some of the internal components have corroded. What it looks like is a white chalk like film that covers the metallic surfaces especially the pins and connectors carrying current. Overall, they contribute to malfunctions that show up in your phone.

  • Inspect the logic board and all the connectors for any signs of corrosion, especially in the areas where the LCIs come red. Check the external ports (charging port, headphone jack, etc.) for corrosion signs as well which may require to be cleaned out with alcohol and a brush, or to be replaced if cleaning does not look practical

  • If LCIs are white, it shows that there is no moisture or corrosion. Leave the phone disassembled in a warm, dry place for a few days to make sure any trapped liquid evaporates too, then reassemble the phone.

  • If any LCIs are red, and if there is corrosion or other liquid residue, or if you just want to be safe, continue for more thorough cleaning.

Step 6

  • Check online for an appropriate guide to remove your iPhone’s logic board or any other parts with corrosion as well.

Note- If it’s an iPhone 4 or earlier, you can remove the EMI shields for more thorough cleaning of the chips underneath. The iPhone 5 and later models do not have removable EMI shields so you might need to consult a repair professional.

On an iPhone 4 or older, use a set of tweezers or your fingers to pull off the EMI shields.

  • Newer iPhone models can try to use a blow dryer to effectively try drying all the internal parts.

Step 7

  • Check online for an appropriate guide to remove your iPhone’s logic board or any other parts with corrosion as well.

Note- If it’s an iPhone 4 or earlier, you can remove the EMI shields for more thorough cleaning of the chips underneath. The iPhone 5 and later models do not have removable EMI shields so you might need to consult a repair professional.

On an iPhone 4 or older, use a set of tweezers or your fingers to pull off the EMI shields.

  • Newer iPhone models can try to use a blow dryer to effectively try drying all the internal parts.

Step 8

Fill a container with high concentration isopropyl alcohol (90% or greater) and submerge the logic board and any other components showing signs of liquid damage.

  • Note-Isopropyl alcohol is a mild skin and eye irritant. Use gloves and eye protection while working with isopropyl alcohol.

    Do not submerge the display or camera modules, even if they are damaged. Submerging them in alcohol will likely damage them further.

    • Allow everything to soak for around 5-10 minutes, or long enough to loosen the hardened residue.

Step 9

  • Use a detailing brush to gently scrub away any corrosion on the logic board and other components. Pay special attention to cable ends, battery contacts, connectors, pins, and fuses, as these parts are prone to corrosion and can easily cause the phone to malfunction.

Note-It’s possible to break small solder joints with too much force from the brush. Use just enough force to remove the corrosion and residue.

  • Keep the logic board and any other alcohol-covered components over a cloth. There’s a chance the alcohol can damage or mark your work surface.

Step 10

  • Moisten the cloth with isopropyl alcohol and wipe off the screen or the case

Note-Unfortunately, there isn’t much to do in repairing a damaged display. If damage to the display is significant, use appropriate repair guides found online to replace them.

Step 11

  • When all components look are clean and dry, reapply anything that was removed and begin to reassemble the phone with a new battery, and the new display if required.

  • It is safe to start the phone like this, but turn it off before starting to work inside.

Note- Do not completely assemble the phone yet. Make sure internal components have been screwed down and everything is plugged in properly, including the battery and display cables, but do not apply adhesive, screw down cover plates, replace external screws, and seat the display.

You would want to test the phone while keeping the internals still accessible in case there are any problems.

Step 12

  • Turn on your phone and watch for any smoke, strange noises, or burning smells. Check the battery and look for any swelling.

Note- If something seems wrong, immediately disconnect the battery.

  • Test all the buttons and features (such as the microphone, speakers, wireless connectivity, camera, etc.).

Note- If any component or feature that doesn’t seem to be working. If anything isn’t working, disassemble the phone and check for obvious problems, such as a broken logic board component or corrosion on the cable contacts—or even an error in reassembly.

We understand that this can be quite a difficult process which is why we recommend always leaving these jobs to the experts..us. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us for a repair job. For more information on iPhones follow the link or more more blogs click here