Water Damage Repair - Best Practices?

It had been unseasonably cold on the camping trip.  The huge heap of s'more stained, campfire-smoke-ridden sweatshirts was stacked on the kitchen counter.   What a drag--this pile should have been a single load of bathing suits, it is June after all.    She plopped the whole of it into the washer, snapped the lid shut and watched the water swish over the load.  Oh well, at least in a half hour this problem would be solved.

Now on to the next problem---what should we do for Father's day dinner?  She knew he'd love sushi, and there was probably just enough time for a quick run to the takeout place if she called ahead.   As her hand instinctively reached into her empty pocket for her iPhone, the realization dawned.  In the sweatshirt.  Oh shit.

This blog entry will politely skip over my own neighbor's faux pas that involves a brief few minutes with a bag of Nishiki---(must have been the thoughts of sushi.)  But her story ends well.  An hour later her phone served up that sushi takeout number after a quick emergency  iPad Rehab water damage treatment.  Even the preschool graduation video was intact.   The only trace of its trip through the washing machine was a scattering of dried droplet marks on the LCD and an April fresh scent.

But let's discuss the middle part of this story.  As we head into the season of swimming pools, boat trips, and the beach---the water damage repairs start rolling in.   Since most of the iPad Rehab customers are other cell phone repair shops-

What are you doing for water damage recovery in your neck of the woods?  

The repair of smartphones and tablets has no service manual.  With mama Apple keeping her intel close to the vest, that leaves us maverick pioneers to tease out best practices in repair out on our own.  We have every right to repair and extend the lives of the devices that we all own---it is just up to us to figure out how to do it.

So from my roots in academia, I'm drawn more to collaboration than competition---what can we learn from each other?  Can we dare to share?  

I'll start.

At iPad Rehab our water damage repair involves no secret formulas or proprietary info.  Our success rate is dependent on how soon the customer gets her device to us---so far I haven't met a board I couldn't start that showed up while still wet, although many have some defect or another, we can almost always get the data.    Hear that?  Wet = good chances for recovery.  Skip the rice.

Pad Rehab Water Damage Recovery Protocol

  1. Take apart phone ASAP.  Remove EMI shields. (for iPhone 5, we go back and remove the shields if phone has a defect or comes in with old water damage)
  2. Examine under microscope---and spot clean the worst areas, i.e. the LCD connector/battery connector with a deoxidizer chemical and a stiff brush.
  3. **recent protocol change*** clean the board with some Kester 951 flux--- flux is better at removing oxidation than isopropanol.
  4. Trip through Ultrasonic cleaner bath which currently has isopropanol in it---although we will change this in the future.
  5. Spot clean with isopropanol and dry with compressed air.
  6. The "SECRET" to our success---under the microscope, hand reflow spots of corrosion, replace components that may have been knocked off the board because they were too compromised to withstand the treatment.
  7. Wash away flux from hand soldering with isopropanol
  8. Spot clean component con
  9. Assemble with new battery nectors in the housing
  10. Attempt to start the phone and assess and defects----make quotes for further repair as necessary.

Before---initial view under microscope.  Frank corrosion/oxidation at LCD connector.

After spot cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning---better, but still a LOT of oxidation...look at third pin of LCD connector--this is LCD input line.

AFTER>  Hand reflowing at LCD connector and filters.  Notice removal of oxidation at row of components at bottom.---This phone had no display defect.

Broken Phone or iPad
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