Are Water Damaged Devices Repairable?

The complicated reality of water damaged circuits

Learn why repairing water damaged circuits may be possible but why it is not practical.

Episode #11-08 released on September 27, 2020

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Today we will talk about a topic that a lot of companies hate dealing with, and that is water damage. Water damage in a device can affect a multitude of components making it difficult or impossible to diagnose the exact components that are damage within a short amount of time.

How about we start with three possible major issues that can make repair any water damaged circuit hard to diagnose.

The printed circuit board being the first. It has to be completely dry into order to diagnose the damage. It is made of a multitude of layers just like a skateboard deck. Each layer has many electrical channels, each of which can be corroded by water. Separation of the layers could cause more damage. It can cause certain components to disconnect no longer allowing for power transfer or communication.

The next components that can be troublesome are the power delivery and filtering components. Anything like resistors, capacitors, etc. Depending on the type they can outright fail needing replacement or short out the circuit resulting in needing to place those and other components down the line. The other issue is these components have connectors that can, also, corrode, meaning that they can rust away disconnecting from the entire circuit, and it is not always clear that they did. Or they may simply provide unstable power delivery due to electrical arching instead.

And now the more complicated of the components to deal with, the actual chips. Many chips on boards have specific functions that never change, and some contain unique data and memory. If the chip has nothing unique, replacing it is still a hassle as it requires extremely specific procedures and skills and doing it wrong can cause permanent damage to the rest of the board.

If the chip has onboard memory or firmware it might make the entire endeavor pointless if you are trying to save the data. You would need a way to copy the data from the chip and transfer it properly. Trying to repair it may involve an extra layer of complication. Depending on the type of damage, it may be irreparable. Corroded terminals are one thing, shorted chips are an entirely different monster.

In many cases, it is easier to replace the board than repair it. It is for that reason, that data is often treated as lost, because even if there is a chance to get the data back, there is no guarantee in life that it will be everything or every time without failure. Even data retrieval businesses never state they can get all your data back for that reason.

The solution is the have backups of data and get the new part whenever available and only repair if it is absolutely necessary or possible.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Dot Net

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