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Five simple ways to revive drowned gadgets

By Patrick Pilcher, Fri 2 Oct 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

It’s a gadget owners worst nightmare. Having dropped a bundle of cash buying that shiny new gizmo, you’ve dropped it into the bath, sink or, dare I say it, the loo.

Bizarrely, a huge number of mobile phones are turning up in the sewage systems around the world.

In 2005, Helsinki Water reported that the growing number of mobile phones turning up in its sewage treatment facilities was becoming a serious problem.

In fact, 1,000 tonnes (that’s a staggering 200 truckloads) of mobile phones, toys, and unidentified objects are found annually in their sewage treatment plants.

And it isn’t just the fumble fingered folks of Helsinki either. The Register reports that an estimated 600,000 mobiles get flushed in the UK annually.

With smartphones becoming increasingly thin and slinkier, gadget drownings looks set to only increase.

If you’ve given a beloved gadget an involuntary dunking, don’t panic. Here are five tips that’ll help bring that drowned hardware back to life:

1. Disconnect its battery

As soon as you’ve rescued the gadget from its watery predicament, power it down and, if possible, remove its battery. Doing so will prevent electrical shorts from damaging it. Once the battery has been removed, shake out any excess water.

2. Dry your gadget

This is best done with a soft absorbent towel. Remove battery covers, memory cards to allow the best airflow possible.

Use a hair dryer (set to its lowest heat setting) to blow warm, dry air at your widget - just make sure to keep it at least 100cm away so you don’t melt or heat damage anything. Make sure the gadget doesn't get too hot and do this for an hour or more.

3. Cotton on

Put your gadget into a container and loosely pack it with cotton balls. Some people say you can use uncooked dry rice, but cotton balls won't leave a gooey starchy residue on your gadget.

Do not put a lid on the container and leave your gadget packed in cotton balls for 1-2 days, or even longer if needed.

4. Check for moisture

After a few days, your hardware should be dry and, if all has gone to plan, the cotton balls should be damp.

Check the device for any traces of water and if any can be seen behind its screen or other parts, repeat step three until there is no sign of any water.

If your device looks and feels dry, re-connect its battery and try powering it on.

If it won't start, don’t panic - your battery could need to be recharged (just make sure that the battery is a dry before charging it). Whatever you do, don’t hook your gadget up to the mains as you could fry it, yourself or even blow a fuse.

5. Repeat

If device refuses to work repeat step three for another 48 hours before trying to power it back up. If your device still refuses to work, then use it power adaptor to see if that works. If it still refuses to function, you'll probably want to admit defeat.

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