What to do if your cell phone has liquid or moisture damage

Has your phone accidently been dropped in water? Have you been pushed into the pool with your phone in your pocket? Where you at the beach or river and your phone decided to go for a swim? Did you accidently run your phone through the wash when doing a load of laundry? Has your phone suffered an unfortunate but more common than you might think incident in the bathroom? Does your phone not work properly any more as a direct result of this? Then here are some choices you might have when dealing with this little misadventure.

Getting Started

The first thing that you should do, if you have not already done so, is try to revive your cell phone using 99% isopropyl alcohol. This little trick is very effective at fixing a wide range of problems which can result from exposing a cell phone to moisture, water or some other liquid.

Dealing with liquid and moisture damage

So you ended up trying to fix or revive your cell phone in isopropyl alcohol and unfortunately your phone still seems to be experiencing issues and a part or parts of your phone seem to be malfunctioning…

The following is a list of common problems resulting from liquid or moisture damage and what you might be able to do in order to fix it.

Phone will not power on

This is one of the more severe issues that a cell phone can experience after being exposed to moisture. After all you won’t be able to use your mobile phone if it won’t even power on.

There are a few possible scenarios that might involve the phone not powering on properly.  

Only responds when being plugged into a charger

If you cannot get your phone to power on but it seems to recognize a charger and the charging light will come on when the phone is plugged in then this is a good sign as it indicates that there is at least some life left in your phone.

If your cell phone falls into this category then I recommend that you try to locate and then attempt to utilize a replacement battery. The battery may have been damaged by the moisture as opposed to the phone and a replacement battery may be the key in getting your phone to start up and work again.

Any battery that you know is operational and is functioning properly should work. You can barrow one from a friend or family member or if your phone is still relatively new you might even want to consider going down to a local retail location to borrow a battery from one of the phones on display at that location. Just temporarily to see if it works of course. If it another battery does work then you will have successfully located the cause of the problem and you can look into purchasing a replacement battery.

If you determine that your phone requires a replacement battery or if you are unable to find a working replacement to use as a test then I suggest that you consider checking online to see what a replacement battery for your particular cell phone is going for. Typically replacement batteries are pretty affordable and are relatively easy to acquire from online stores like Amazon. Note: If your particular model of smartphone was designed with a non-removable battery then this task is going to be a little more difficult for you but will likely require you to take apart your phone in order to remove and then replace the battery. If your phone falls into this category then you may want to save this step in troubleshooting as the last and final solution for your cell phone.

Phone is completely unresponsive

If your phone is as dead as a door knob, is totally unresponsive and won’t even respond when being plugged into a charger (and you made sure to try the alcohol trick mentioned at the beginning of this article) then I recommend trying another battery (just like the suggestion above). If another battery doesn’t help to get a response out of the phone then chances are good that you’re going to need to look into replacing the phone.

Phone is stuck on its startup logo

This issue is a little tricky and isn’t too common when it comes to moisture damage but it does happen occasionally. If your cell phone will boot up but seems to gets stuck on its startup logo, or begins to boot but before it turns on all the way it will power off, or if it gets caught in a boot loop and seems to restart over and over again nonstop then you might want to consider trying to troubleshoot the phones software before looking into replacing the unit. Check out how to fix a phone that’s caught in a boot loop for some advice on how to try and troubleshoot this particular issue.

Phone will not charge

Charging a phone is just as important as being able to power a phone on. Here are some common charging related problems that can often creep up on a cell phone which has been exposed moisture or dropped in liquid.

Phone powers on but will not charge

If your phone will turn on but doesn’t want to charge or even recognize a charger then the very first thing that you should do is backup as much of the information on your phone as you can before the battery runs out of its current charge.

Create a copy of your phones information to a computer, to the phones memory card (if it has one), save your information online through the cloud or other storage platform, save its contacts to its SIM card (if available). If you cannot get your phone to charge again you do not want to lose your phones important data if you don’t have to.

That being said, as far as troubleshooting your phone… for good measure I recommend that you attempt to try to use a different charger or chargers to see if your phone will take a charge from another charger. Try a different charging source, for example try charging your phone through a wall outlet as well as through a computer USB port, etc. If you cannot get a response then give the phones charging port a thorough inspection to see if anything is in there that is not supposed to be in there which can be causing trouble. You should consider giving that port a good cleaning with isopropyl alcohol as well. If that doesn’t seem to work then you might need to have the phones charging hardware replaced. This can be done through the manufacture but local repair shops or even buying the part online and then doing the repair yourself is usually more affordable and is definitely a possible and viable solution to look into.

Important Tip: If you can turn on your phone properly but you cannot get your phone to recognize a charger and your phone is designed with a removable battery you might consider investing in an external charger. This would allow you to remove the battery from the phone, plug it into that external charger, charge it up to full, put it back into your phone, and then you could turn on your phone and use it as usual. An external charger may not be available for every phone on the market but if one is available for your phones make and model then it is going to be a much more affordable option than buying a replacement phone and will allow you to charge your battery and continue using the phone you know and love.

Phone shows charging when not plugged into a charger

This is another issue that isn’t too common but can happen depending on what kind of liquid the phone was dropped into amongst other things. If your phone seems to be beeping as though your phone is being plugged into a charger, removed from the charger, plugged in, unplugged, over and over again or if your phone simply shows that its charging even though it isn’t plugged in you might be able to fix it in a matter of seconds by following the advice listed HERE.

Phone gets hot when plugged into a charger

If your cell phone is getting hot when plugged into a charger then chances are you might need to look into your replacement options as this issue can be difficult to pinpoint much less repair. You can look into replacing the charging port on the phone but it’s not going to be a sure fix and like I said repairing this issue can be a real hassle.

Phone overheating

If your phone begins overheating even when not plugged into a charger then this would likely indicate a hardware malfunction and like the previous issue this too can be difficult to locate much less repair.

Some common areas to overheat on a smartphone include its earpiece speaker area, its battery area (which could indicate an issue with the battery so make sure to check the batteries temperature as well), it could include a problem with the screen(s) getting hot, the back of the phone above the battery compartment is a common area, or around the phones charging port.

Display issues

Moisture can affect a cell phones display screen in many different ways including…

Discoloration

If your screen looks like a rainbow of colors or just doesn’t look right then that would indicate that your phones display screen has been affected by the moisture and will likely need to be replaced.

Horizontal or vertical lines

This issue is a little tricky… while it indicates that there is an obvious problem it might be fixable with a little bit of tinkering.

There is a good chance that those lines on the screen indicate a problem with the flex cable that connects the display screen to the phones motherboard. If you take your phone apart you might be able to check that cable for abnormalities and correct anything that seems out of place. The flex cable might need to be unplugged, cleaned with alcohol (along with the port on the phone that it plugs into), given time to dry, and then reconnected. It might be as simple as that and not even require a replacement display screen.

If that doesn’t seem to work (which you should certainly try if you haven’t already) then the display screen or its flex cable has been damaged, is malfunctioning, and will need to be replaced with a working unit.

Dim or faded

If you can see your phones screen but it’s really faded or dim or a little darker and difficult to see then the phones backlight on its display screen has malfunctioned and your phones display screen will need to be replaced in order for your phones screen to work properly again.

Don’t forget to access your phones Settings locate the Display option within those settings and then crank up your phones Brightness to its maximum output. This may help in some cases but if it is in fact a hardware issue then this suggestion may have little to no effect and the defective hardware (the display screen) will need replacing.

Black Screen

If you can hear your phone boot up and your phone will receive calls and it seems to be working fine apart from being able to see anything on the screen then a replacement display screen should get your phone up and running in no time.

You might want to try the same advice given above (in the lines on the display section) and try cleaning that flex cable and its connections for good measure but if the alcohol bath mentioned at the start of this guide didn’t help then chances are your display screen will need replacing. Give it a try though; you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying.

Moisture trapped underneath the screen

If you notice that your cell phone seems to have moisture or liquid trapped underneath your screen then there is hope.

Start out by NOT turning your phone on to see if your screen is working or not. If you have turned your phone on (very common don’t get scared) turn it off and if possible remove the battery from the phone until that moisture has had time to evaporate and dry out completely.

A common tactic that you can use is to put your phone in a window seal to sunbathe or put it under a lamp to bask in the light that way. You want a little heat on it BUT not too much heat. You do NOT want to accidently cause damage to the phone by applying to much heat to the screen. I personally do not recommend using a blow dryer for this task as I feel that it can apply too much heat at once along with some other possible unpleasant side effects. I recommend using a low but constant heat source that will cause the moisture to evaporate a little faster than it would at room temperature. You can try using dried rice too but underneath a desk lamp seems to work pretty well.

Remember that if you used 99% isopropyl alcohol (as I recommended at the beginning of this article) not only should it dry faster but it also has a lot lower chance of leaving behind spots from any calcium or mineral deposits…

Audio

Audio problems are another common problem resulting from liquid or moisture damage. No volume, low volume, crackling, muffled sound and other audio distortions can be quite annoying, frustrating and troublesome.

Luckily these replacement parts can often be found online, are not typically too expensive (depending on the make and model of phone and when it was released) and can often be replaced by the user with minimal difficulty.

Ear Speaker

One of the most important pieces of hardware as far as audio is concerned is the phones Earpiece Speaker. This is the main speaker that most people use when having a telephone conversation and it is the speaker that is located on the top of the phone and is what you hold up to your ear on a call.

Sometimes this speakers sound gets muffled distorted or just totally malfunctions and won’t work at all. If it seems distorted then it could mean one of two things. The first is that there is still moisture in the speaker and the phone needs more time to dry out completely. The second is that the speaker is in fact damaged and will need to be replaced in order to function properly again.

If you cannot afford a replacement, cannot locate a replacement, or simply don’t have the time to bother with it then you can attempt to plug in an external headset for telephone calls, use a Bluetooth speaker, or even use the phones loud speaker on your telephone calls. The loud speaker will allow others to hear your conversation but you won’t need any other hardware so long as it’s still working properly.

Loud Speaker

The loud speaker is another speaker on your cell phone and is used for the phones ringer, notifications, its alarm clock, its hands free speaker option, etc.

If you can no longer hear these features then the phones loud speaker is no longer functioning and will need to be switched out for a working unit.

Microphone

If you call someone and you can hear that person speaking but the person on the other end cannot hear you speaking and cannot hear what you are saying to them then your cell phones speaker is working but your cell phones microphone is not working.

Microphone replacements are another piece of hardware that can be found online are often affordable and are not too complicated to swap out yourself. Replacing a microphone is going to be way more affordable then purchasing another phone and since this can often be done yourself you should be able to save some money by going this route as opposed to taking or sending your phone in for someone else to repair it.

Headphone Jack

Don’t forget that your phones Headphone Jack can be affected by moisture as well. If your phone is no longer recognizing any wired headsets OR if your other speakers are not working because your phone thinks that there is a pair of headphones plugged into it when there really isn’t then your phones Headphone Jack is malfunctioning.

Try plugging in and then unplugging a headset a few times to try to get your phone to recognize the plug properly. This might take a good few attempts to be successful and is not a guaranteed solution. If you cannot get it to read your headset(s) through the Headphone Jack and isopropyl alcohol didn’t help the situation and you absolutely need to use a wired headset as opposed to a wireless Bluetooth headset then you will need to exchange the Headphone Jack on your cell phone for a working unit.

Touch Screen

This is one of the more annoying issues that can occur to a smartphone that’s been dropped in water or which has had an incident with moisture as the phone will appear to be working properly but it actually won’t respond to your touch or won’t respond correctly when trying to select something on the screen.

Since the majority of smartphones these days depend on a working touch screen in order to function properly a malfunctioning touch screen can leave you with little more than a paperweight.

So make sure to try the alcohol (I know I have mentioned this a bunch of times already but 99% isopropyl alcohol is an amazing tool to use when trying to combat the effects that water can have on an electronic), you can check the flex cable for your touch screen (just like when troubleshooting a display screen) but if checking and cleaning the flex cable and the phones touch screen has little or no effect and your touch screen continues to malfunction and continues to respond incorrectly or not at all then chances are the phones touch screen is in fact damaged and will need to be replaced.

Where to get replacement parts for your cell phone…

If a piece of hardware on your phone is damaged and needs to be replaced where is the best place to look for and purchase replacement parts?

While prices can often vary depending on what make and model of phone you have you’re going to want to do your shopping online.

Some good places to start looking for the best deals available include and are not limited to:

#1 Amazon

Amazon is one of the most successful online stores to date and for good reason. They carry just about everything, including cell phone parts; they have wonderful customer service, and have some of the lowest prices available.

As such Amazon is typically my number one stop when buying something online and is where I recommend that you start your search for whatever replacement parts that your phone requires.

#2 eBay

eBay is another good place to buy replacement cell phone parts. Like Amazon it has good deals on just about anything including new and used replacement phone parts, you can review sellers before making your purchase, and making a purchase is secure, safe and easy.

#3 Repairs Universe

Repairs Universe is a site devoted completely to replacement parts and repairs for mobile devices. Not only can you find a wide range of replacement parts through this site but typically when you purchase an item through Repairs Universe you also receive a free repair guide and free pry opening tool to help you get the job done. This is not a huge thing of course but is a nice little touch and the site usually has some pretty decent prices as well.

Thank you for visiting

Thank you for visiting the site and for reading this guide on how to try and pinpoint and resolve issues involving water and moisture damage. This can be a stressful situation for most people and can seem a bit hopeless at times but don’t just give up! If your phone can be repaired then don’t doubt yourself or your abilities to fix your phone yourself.

Do your best to track down the replacement parts online, order them, wait patiently for them to arrive, and then swap out the bad parts for the good ones.

With a little research through your favorite search engine you should be able to even locate some detailed guides or instructions on how you can service your very own device and with any luck you will be able to get it back up and running properly again in no time.

Thanks again for visiting. I hope that you have found the advice listed above helpful when troubleshooting your specific smartphone or mobile device and with any luck I hope that you will be able to get your malfunctioning unit working correctly again with minimal fuss.

I wish you and your phone the best of luck and I hope that you have a fantastic day.

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