I'm at the CTIA Wireless Repair Expo in Las Vegas this week, and I'm asking other shops what they do about water damage. I'm finding that a lot of people don't know what to do, so they don't do water damage repair at all. The rest do some sort of version that is either "get it dry" or "clean it and get it dry"
In my experience, neither of these plans are good enough. Here's the deal, if you take a piece of chocolate, and melt it in the hot Las Vegas sun, then put it in your freezer---you will have chocolate. Kind of. It will be brittle and fragile and just won't be the same. That is what happens when we brush off what corrosion and oxidation we can and then call it a day on water damage. But what if you take the chocolate, throw it in the big vat with the rest of the chocolate and let it harden in the mold again? It's just as good as new. We can do the same for water damage oxidation--reflow that tarnished solder with heat and let it cool to make a new bond.
We can do better than just toothbrush and done, repair peeps! If we add on one more step---reflowing the leftover oxidation--then we are really making that board as solid as it ever was and can expect a lasting repair. To reflow, you add some flux and touch a soldering iron to the blackened areas of solder on the connectors and edges of components. This reflows the solder and essentially reforms the joint with the underlying pads on the board. It can make the difference between a water damage band aid, and a true water damage repair.
I am ALL FOR best practices in the repair community. The better we can do as a whole, the more likely people will choose repair over replacement and that is good for us, our customers, and our environment. Let's raise the bar for water damage!
This is typical iPhone 5 corrosion at LCD connector. This phone will not show a backlight. The corrosion was very focal--just here at the backlight, digitizer and front camera connector
AFTER JUST CLEANING
Better, but not good enough. The frank corrosion is gone, but clearly this LCD connector is too oxidized to make good electrical contact if at all. The digitizer connector will probably work, but would be better to just flow that touch of corrosion right off.
Practically unscathed. This connector is restored and the backlight is back on. Digitizer and front camera connector also look great. See needle pointing to a tiny connector that has been reflowed as well.