A common problem that happens to most iPod owners at some point in the lifespan of owning the device is getting it wet. Not just sweat from working out or a light sprinkle from rain, but potentially catastrophic exposure to water to include but not limited to dropping the iPod into the toilet, the pool, or even a glass of water or other liquid. As a result, a common task that arises for consumers is determining how to repair a wet iPod.
Actions to Take Immediately After iPod Exposure to Water
The first and most important thing to do when you get your iPod wet is to minimize damage.
Step 1 – The iPod needs to be turned off immediately (if it is still on). The potential for greater damage to the device increases the longer that the electronic components have power while they are immersed in water. The good news is that with the majority of iPods being fairly thin as compared to other electronic devices, the owner may get lucky and avoid significant damage, but should not assume that water has failed to penetrate the interior of the device.
Step 2 – If liquid has been spilled onto the device, attempt to wipe it off of the iPod as soon as possible. Depending on the specific device and manner of spill, this may prevent most of the liquid from penetrating the device.
Step 3 – Leave the iPod turned off for 24 hours. If the water exposure was from the rain, or a minor spill, this will afford time for any slight water intrusion to dissipate or dry off. If the iPod has been dropped into water or suffered more significant water or liquid exposure, it may fail to turn on after being off for 24 hours. If this has occurred with the iPod, additional repair / troubleshooting steps will be required. These include seeking replacement under an extended warranty (normally has to be purchased with the device), repairing yourself, paying a third party to fix the wet iPod, or in the worst-case, purchasing a new or previously used iPod.
***Note: Do not plug the iPod into the wall or computer charger while turned off due to exposure to water. This will send power through the device and can result in potentially catastrophic damage to the device.
Does the Apple Warranty Cover Water Damage?
According to fans of Apple products, one of the best things about the company is their customer support. All iPods come with a warranty, and many buyers also get one or another kind of extended warranty. Apple’s iPod warranty doesn’t cover water damage; however, so if you bring your iPod into an Apple store, the repair techs will probably refuse to repair a wet iPod or possibly charge the consumer without fixing the device. If purchasing an extended warranty, a good question to ask the sales staff is if the coverage will cover water damage. There are also costumers who know that Apple doesn’t service water damage so they just wait it out until the iPod is completely dry and then they take it to the Apple store in hope that they will get an replacement. Although that may work in limited cases, store employees can likely figure out if the iPod was really defective or if it was exposed to water which is not included on the standard device warranty
How to repair a wet iPod with Rice (or Dust Free Kitty Litter)
Anyone who has owned iPods or mobile phones over the past decade is likely familiar with the rice repair method. The basic idea with rice is to use it as a moisture absorbing material (or desiccant). More recently, some consumers have reported better success with using dust free kitty litter since most rice types have some form of dust that can penetrate electronic components.
Step 1 – Open the iPod and remove the battery. Depending on the type of iPod that you have, this may require borrowing or buying a miniature screwdriver to take the device apart. If attempting the repair on a variant of iPod that does not have a user-removable battery such as an iPod Touch, it is still worth attempting the method but may have a lower probability of success.
Step 2 – Carefully wipe all of the iPod’s components with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol. The alcohol is important, because it dries almost instantly when placed onto a surface and can dry surrounding water as well. After gently wiping all of the parts off separately, place the components in either a plastic bag with uncooked rice (or substitute such as dust-free kitty litter). An alternative method is to put the uncooked rice in a plastic bowl open to the atmosphere. Based on the hygroscopic properties of rice, it will absorb moisture. So when you put your wet iPod into a bag full of rice the rice will pick up any moisture from the iPod and hopefully prevent any short-circuiting that the water might cause when you try to turn your iPod on. There are of course other materials that might be better suited for this task than rice, but rice is something that most people have at home or at least can get easily while something like silica crystals might be far harder to get.
Step 3 – To maximize the chances of successful repair of a wet iPod with rice, the device should be left in the rice for 24 to 38 hours. The bag should also be stored in a dry and warm environment. After the 48 hours are up you can take a look at your iPod, check if there is any visible water and if not put it back together and try to turn it on. If it turns on and works without problems for a few hours, the repair has been successful.
*Note: Although the rice/kitty litter method has been successful for consumers who have dropped their iPods in water spilled liquid onto the device, it is not guaranteed to work. If the device remains on, is plugged into a charger, or remains submersed in liquid for a prolonged timeframe, it is very possible that no repair method will work in fixing the device.
Sending the iPod to a Repair Service
Last and probably the least favorite way for most people to repair a wet iPod is by sending it to someone who specializes in fixing wet gadgets or even iPods specifically. This of course is unpopular because it requires spending who knows how much extra money on fixing your already expensive gadget. While this solution probably is the least popular sometimes you don’t have a choice, it is probably better to spend $50-100 in repair costs than to lose your iPod altogether. Some considerations to help determine if it is worth paying for an iPod repair service:
1 – Age of the device. If your iPod is several years old and repair costs are going to exceed $50, it may be more cost effective to purchase a new or slightly-used iPod.
2 – Repair guarantee. Does the service provider being considered offer a money-back guarantee on the repair? Many reputable repair companies will not offer such a guarantee for water damaged iPods. Some will even add additional charges if the device is damaged beyond basic repair. Additionally, if the device was left turned on (or even was plugged in) after exposure to water, the repair company may not be able to accomplish the repair despite their guarantee.
3 – Time you can do without the iPod. Unless you are planning on using a brick-and-mortar iPod repair shop, you will be without the device for more than a few days. Although not a significant detail for the older consumer, many now use iPods to surf the Internet, store contact information, email, and listen to music.
Difference Between Water Resistant and Water Proof iPod Cases
Most consumers will wait until losing an iPod to severe water damage before making the decision to purchase a water resistant or water proof case for the player. One of the primary facts to remember about water resistant cases is that although they will resist the entry of water into the case, they are not completely resistant to the entry of water. Water proof cases; however, can be fully submerged in water without worrying about getting the product wet. The resistant cases are more common for iPods and will typically cost less money than a fully water proof case. A note of caution; however, is each of the case varieties will typically have latches or hinged accesses to plug the iPod into a power source, connect headphones, etc. If this latch or hinge section is left open or not fully secured, the device will still be susceptible to water damage when immersed or exposed to water. When selecting a new case for an iPod, if the manufacturer does not state that the case is water proof or water resistant, then it likely does not provide significant protection against water damage.
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