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An Introduction to BlackBerry Water Damage
There are many ways that your BlackBerry device, or any portable device, can get wet. It can fall into a sink or a pool, or it can simply get rained on if you use it at the wrong time. Getting your BlackBerry wet can be a scary experience, since even brief contact with water can damage your BlackBerry’s electronics. While there is no process that will guarantee your BlackBerry will be ok after contact with water, there are a few steps you can take to give your device the best chance of survival.
If your BlackBerry got wet long enough ago that the water has already dried, and your device is acting strange, you have a much smaller chance of returning it to life. Go ahead and skip to the "Clean the Damage" section and try to clean any corrosion off of the control board. In my experience this has a small chance of working, but I have seen it work.
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When your BlackBerry gets wet, the first thing you want to do is to remove the battery and unplug it. Water has a much lower chance of harming your BlackBerry when there is no electrical current to short circuit. Your BlackBerry isn’t going to start sparking or acting strange right away, so don’t let the fact that your device looks ok be a reason not to remove the battery. If you waste time checking to see if your device is ok, your chances of winding up with an expensive brick skyrocket. If you have a SIM or memory card in the BlackBerry, remove it immediately as well, so that even if your device is ruined, your information will be safe.
Once the battery is out, don’t even think of powering your device back up for at least a day. You need to be sure that all the water is out of your BlackBerry before you apply power to it. If you get antsy and can’t stand the wait, you just may destroy the device.
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Dry the Device, Without Heat
Once the power is removed, you now need to get as much water out of the BlackBerry as you can. You may have heard advice about using a hair dryer for this. While a hair dryer will work, if you hold the dryer over the phone for too long, you run the risk of damaging the plastics. Use a can of compressed air, or a vacuum cleaner, to try and force as much water out of the BlackBerry as you can. Tilt the device back and forth as you are working on it, to try and pour any water out while you work.
If you are good at opening BlackBerry devices, you may want to do that now to get some more water out of the inside of the case. You are going to have to open the case later anyway, so getting inside the device now can help remove some of the water. Each BlackBerry device will have a slightly process for opening it, so check the last section for some tips on getting your device open.
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Put the Phone in Uncooked Rice
This may seem like the strangest part of the process, but it could be the most important. No matter how well you forced the water out of the device, there is still some plenty of moisture left in there. You need to surround the BlackBerry with something that will draw the moisture out of it, and that’s where the rice comes in. Technically, those small silica gel packets that come with products that need to stay dry will work a little better, but unless you have a drawer of silica gel packets lying around, rice is your best bet.
Submerge your BlackBerry and the battery completely in uncooked rice. Just let it sit there for at least 24 hours. You will probably be really tempted to slap the battery in and see if the device is fried, but you have to be patient. Let the rice do its thing and don’t give in to the temptation of checking to see if the BlackBerry is ok.
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Clean the Damage
This step isn’t going to be an option for everyone, but if you have the tools to take your BlackBerry apart, you can clean out any remaining damage before you try and turn your device on. Sometime the water will leave mineral deposits or corrosion behind, and by cleaning this off, you can prevent some potential short circuits. There is only a small chance that this will be effective, so don’t feel the need to run out and by the tools, but if you have them already this can’t hurt.
To open up your BlackBerry device you will need either a T4 or a T6 screwdriver, or on a few models, both. You will also need a pry stick, or just a small flathead screwdriver to pop the case open. Finally, you will need isopropyl alcohol that is at least 95% alcohol, and preferably 98% alcohol.
You will need to use different methods to open up different models of BlackBerry. You may be able to find disassembly tutorials for your specific model online. Most BlackBerrys will have between two and four screws on the outside, and two to four on the inside. Once you remove all of the screws you can see, use the pry stick to pop the device open, but be careful because some models, like the Tour, have hidden screws (the hidden Tour screws are on the front side under a panel above the LCD).
Once you get the device open, clean every part of the control board with the alcohol and a brush. You don’t have to wonder about drying it, since the alcohol will evaporate quickly, but you can use compressed air to dry it if you feel like it. Since the damage may be too small for you too see, make sure you clean every possible area. Some models, like the Curve, have a white sticker that holds the individual keys in place. You can peel this sticker back and clean underneath, since this area is prone to water damage as it sits just under the key openings.
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The End of Your BlackBerry Water Damage Triage
Put your BlackBerry back together, if you had it apart, plug the battery in and see if it powers on. Don’t get too excited if the hourglass shows up, there can still be something seriously wrong. Once the BlackBerry powers up, check each key on the keyboard to make sure they are all working. Make a quick phone call to test the mic and earpiece, and finally check the USB port and the headset jack. If everything is in working order, then you may be in the clear, but keep in mind that problems from water damage can spring up at a later time.