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Fixed my water damaged Note 3! I got pushed in the pool and thought it was dead... Details InsideTips

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  1. andyacecandy

    andyacecandy Well-Known Member

    I wanted to post this to give hope to anyone who has faced water damage with their phone. I got pushed in the pool by a drunk guy (he felt terrible and even planned it out beforehand when he noticed I was in swimming trunks and not regular shorts... thinking I wouldn't have my phone in my pocket).

    Well, I got pushed in and while falling, I even tried to pull the phone out and throw it before I landed in the water lol. I was under water for probably a good 10 seconds as I frantically swam to the edge to get out and pull the phone out.

    I did everything correctly in the beginning. I pulled the wet phone out of my pocket, took the back cover off and took the battery, SIM, and SD cards out immediately. I dried it off with a towel for the moment but could not get to a bag of rice for hours. The pool was really dirty, so I knew my chances were slim.

    I wasn't able to get the phone into a bag of rice for probably 4 hours. So, I finally got the bag of rice and put the phone in over night. Here's where I know I did some wrong things, but I was very impatient. After one night (about 10 hours) in the bag of rice, I tried putting the battery in and turning on. Nothing happened. So, I tried plugging the charger in and turning it on. Nothing happened.
    I know this is very bad to try and do to a water damaged phone, so now I really thought I ruined everything.

    I went on the forums and read that distilled water will help clean off the phone should it have gotten into salty or dirty water. So, I got some distilled water and submerged my phone in it for a few minutes thinking I had nothing to lose. I dried it off and put it back in rice for the entire day about 12 hours. That night, I tried AGAIN to put the battery in and turn it on. Nothing happened. I tried plugging the charger in again and turning it on. Nothing happened. Uh oh...

    So, now I'm researching online and reading that 99% isopropyl alcohol will help with water damaged electronics. I went and bought some at CVS (they only had 91%) but whatever. This time, I took apart my phone using the ifixit breakdown. I took off the entire back panel and logic-board. I submerged each piece in the isopropyl alcohol for about 30 minutes. I gave each piece a nice gentle scrub with a toothbrush to make sure I was cleaning everything. Then, I dried with towel and I put each piece in a bag of rice over night for about 10 hours.

    This morning just now, I put the phone back together. I knew this was my last shot after one night bag of rice, after one day distilled water and rice, and finally after one day 91% isopropyl alcohol and rice... there was nothing left to do.
    I put the battery in expecting nothing. Then... suddenly... it vibrated! I looked at the screen and there was the logo! It was turning on!!! I was still not optimistic as I know water damaged phones can lose functionality... but I tested everything out and everything works! Air View, Air Gesture, speakers, calling, etc... everything works!

    So in conclusion, I would say the isopropyl alcohol was the game changer here. That stuff really works. I've even seen YouTube videos where people submerge a turned on phone in the stuff and it still works because it does not conduct electricity at all. Pretty cool.

    Crossing my fingers this lasts... but I know the lifespan is probably shortened and things may bug out on me in the future. For now, I'm enjoying that I brought it back to life.

  2. rcaine

    rcaine Well-Known Member

    Very scary. Thanks for the step by step on what to do when our worst nightmare for our Note 3 happens.
  3. dan330

    dan330 Well-Known Member

    my last phone... Samsung S3..
    it took a short dip in lake water.. so dirty.
    i could see water stuck under the screen. 60% of the screen!

    did the rice thing and it was fine. took 4 days to get the water out.
    but there was a hugh water stain under the screen.
    guess because the water was dirty (lake water not clear! muddy brown)
    i did not want to pay someone to dig under and clean it ($50).

    so.. how did your screen turn out?
  4. andyacecandy

    andyacecandy Well-Known Member

    My screen turned out very nicely except for the top right corner where I must've not cleaned it properly. It had the whole weird purple look like when you press down on any kind of electronic screen. So, I just tried wiping this area down with a little more isopropyl alcohol and have it in a bag of rice now. Hoping that cleans this part of the screen up a little bit.

    Other than that small portion, my screen looked perfect. Knock on wood!
  5. Rukbat

    Rukbat Well-Known Member

    1) You don't need rice to "dry off" alcohol. Alcohol is hygroscopic - it dries the phone better than rice (or even fresh silica gel). You use rice after an alcohol bath to absorb the last few molecules of water that the alcohol didn't absorb.

    Oh, distilled water? That just destroys the phone slower than dirty water. It still soaks into the board, eventually causing carbonization and shorts. Whoever came up with that idea should be soaked in it - for a few years.

    2) The big problem here isn't the water, it's the hydrochloric acid in the pool. (Chlorinated water has a very small amount of HCl in it, because the chlorine combines with the water.) HCl is a very weak copper etchant. You don't want to use it to make printed circuit boards (you'd wait days for a board to etch), but it will etch copper. Drying the board doesn't remove the HCl, it only evaporates water.

    (It's the same reason I'd never accept a phone that was dropped into the ocean for a repair attempt. Too many acids eating away at the phone for there to be any hope of saving it, unless it was dropped into alcohol immediately after being dropped into ocean water for a second or two.)

    Let's hope that the phone is still working in June. But just in case anything like that should ever happen again, read Wet Phone Taking the phone apart and scrubbing it with alcohol (which you did) is even better than just swishing the closed phone around in it. But use something softer, like the alcohol swabs you can get at CVS, wrapped around the pointed end of a wooden toothpick. You can scrub very fine copper lines off the board with a toothbrush.

    BTW, 99% alcohol becomes anywhere from 96% to 90% as soon as you open the bottle, depending on how much water there is in the air for it to absorb (IOW, how humid it is). That's why there's no such thing as 200 proof Everclear. The 190 proof (95% alcohol) probably starts off closer to 200 proof, but by the time it gets into the bottle it's diluted with humidity.

    But even 70% is enough. You want only 2 things from the alcohol - a lot of liquid (to both wash off any solids and to dilute any liquids and wash them off) and water absorbtion. While pure (100%) alcohol might dry the phone faster, 70% will still absorb all the water on the board if you give it a few changes. (And considering the cost of alcohol, you'll get change of a $5 bill for all the 70% alcohol you'll need to fix a few phones.) We used to buy it in 5 gallon containers in my cellphone stores (it's a lot cheaper that way - cheaper than bottled water), but used 70%, because you can dispose of that at the town dump. 90% or greater is considered a hazardous waste, and you have to pay a company that disposes of hazmats a lot of money to come down and pick up even a pint of it. And I never lost a phone because the alcohol wasn't strong enough.

    (Please don't dump rubbing alcohol down the drain if you're not connected to a sewage treatment plant. It leaches into the ground, killing anything that takes it in - like bugs and the birds that eat them - and cats that eat the birds. BTW, it's deliberately poisoned to allow it to be sold without charging the "sin tax" that's collected on "drinkable" alcohol. There are various ways different manufacturers do it, but most of them cause it to be highly toxic.)
    dynomot, Jazzy79, MrClean and 5 others like this.
  6. dan330

    dan330 Well-Known Member

    Rukbat.. thanks for the info
  7. Simon_Gardner

    Simon_Gardner Well-Known Member

    Reminds me of when I tried to buy "meths" in the US for my Trangia camping stove. I ended up drawing the structure of methyl alcohol in various stores but nobody had a clue what I was talking about. Meths is largely a mix of methyl and ethyl alcohol with a colouring agent and an odour additive.

    Cracked alcohol worked in the end.

  8. andyacecandy

    andyacecandy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info!

    Looks like I may have pressed my luck though. I tried the isopropyl trick again and dried off with a paper towel then in the rice. The phone turns on, the LED light works and the speakers work.... however the screen remains black. Wondering if I screwed something up by just putting it in isopropyl? Should I just put it back in the rice? Maybe something involved with the screen is not fully dry?
  9. Rukbat

    Rukbat Well-Known Member

    It's easily found in two forms here - rubbing alcohol at the chemist's (drug store here) or in a gelled form called Sterno. You pop the lid off the can and light the gel. You can usually find Sterno in any Walmart, K-Mart, Target, Lowes - IOW, it's pretty ubiquitous stuff. It's even used at buffets (I don't know what they're called there - tables filled with foil trays of food, in racks, with cans of the stuff burning under the trays to keep the food in them warm, either at restaurants or private parties).

    Winnie was bloody right, eh? King's English, but which king?

    Did anyone even catch on to the idea that you were drawing a molecular chemical diagram? Or did they think you had just stepped off a flying saucer and were asking to be taken to our leader? (I have something in common with Socrates when it comes to thinking about our youth. I suppose over there this would be the place I'd call them a cheeky lot.)
  10. bonerp

    bonerp Well-Known Member

    theres a kit you can buy in the uk the cleans the electronic components - was on dragons den. Trouble is the chances of you having this on you when it happens is quite remote unless you are really anal!

    Rescuetec is a US kit I belive.

    Reviveaphone in the UK.
  11. tntlassiter

    tntlassiter Well-Known Member

    So everything isn't working correctly?
    I had the impression that everything was working properly by your first post.
  12. andyacecandy

    andyacecandy Well-Known Member

    Ha it was... the screen was only like 95% there though. There were some weird smearing going on in the corners. Only small... but I decided to give it another alcohol bath in hopes of cleaning everything out. Bad idea I guess. Now the screen is just black (everything still turns on though) and I can see some liquid (probably the alcohol) behind the screen while it's black.

    Ugh, should've just left it alone! It's back in silica now to help dry everything out. Crossing my fingers I didn't f this up... but looks like I might have :(
  13. andyacecandy

    andyacecandy Well-Known Member

    So my question to you guys is this...

    1.) Keep my water damaged Note 3 and pay $200 for a new screen replacement and repair
    2.) Try and sell my water damaged Note 3 and buy a like new condition Nexus 5 on Craigslist for $250

    Decisions decisions
    pd69 likes this.
  14. dan330

    dan330 Well-Known Member

    nexus5 is great phone.. but does it equal the Note3?

    depends how you liked/used the big screen and spen..and multi windows.
    if those things were NOT a big deal for u.. then go with nexus5.

    good luck
  15. andyacecandy

    andyacecandy Well-Known Member

    Honestly I never used the S Pen
    The big screen was nice but I will admit, was a little too big at times.
  16. bonerp

    bonerp Well-Known Member

    Nexus 5 is a nice device. I had one whilst note 3 was being fixed.
  17. toptobottom

    toptobottom Well-Known Member

    Why would anyone subject their phone to toxic alcohol. I would only use this


    After soaking the phone, you can place it in the rice and recycle the waste stream alcohol by making a delicious real fruit punch and invite a bunch of good friends over to pass time. This is also therapeutic because it helps drown your sorrows, thinking that your phone is toast, while practicing patience to leave the phone alone in the rice for at least 3 days because that is likely to be how many days pass before you awaken from unconsciousness.

    When you've finally peeled your cheek from the toilet rim, you can check to see if your phone works and if there is no response, you can finish what's left of the de-watering liquid and toast a farewell to a fine instrument. After a few toasts, you will be assured to lack remorse.
  18. andyacecandy

    andyacecandy Well-Known Member

    Someone is offering me $225 for my water damaged Note 3... I should probably hop on this huh?
  19. toptobottom

    toptobottom Well-Known Member


    Should you buy a Nexus 5 on Craigslist?

    Nope! That 'like new' Nexus 5 is probably a water damaged phone that had a digitizer replaced just like your Note 3 will. Wouldn't be surprised if your Note 3 winds up for sale on craigslist as 'like new'.

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