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Water damage to computers

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June 14, 2010 6:30:59 PM

so i awoke this morning to a flooded apartment. 9 inches of water in 3 hours equals my home was under water...

my pc (an hp quadcore tower) was in about 6" of water. my laptop was only halfway submerged.

another hp tower was 100% underwater. i'm assuming it was a total loss.

is there any way to salvage this junk? i know my laptop's ram and hard-drives are OK and stayed dry (they still had dust on them when i pulled the covers off). at least i know i might be able to back up my data off it.

i'm assumming the same goes for the hp, whatever components were up high will be ok. the hard drive still sits up top, no?

but are the motherboards fried? cpus? is there a systematic way to test them without exploding them? i know with cell phones there's a method for putting them in the oven at the lowest setting to dry them out. i also know i plugged in my phone charger (which got wet but i thought was dried out) and it shorted out. so i'm afraid to test anything. my transformer plug for the laptop still drips when you shake it, pretty sure that's done.

as soon as the water recedes enought for me to go back, i will. likewise i have other electronics that were damaged and i'd like to resolve (digital projector, recording gear for my guitar stuff...) sigh. no doubt i'll be a heavy loss in the end, but i want to save as much stuff as i can as soon as i can.

any advice?

More about : water damage computers

a b à CPUs
June 14, 2010 6:43:57 PM

Let them sit, for a while. If they weren't running while they were submerged you may be ok, from stories I've heard from other members.

Some people literally wash their motherboard like a dish (scares me honestly lol).

As far as making the drying process faster, i'd just pull out all of the components (and open the laptop) and let them sit out for a good while, maybe putting them near a fan. Can't give you a time zone as I have zero experience with that, but i'd be patient. :) 
June 14, 2010 7:04:02 PM

so it's not better to get the junk opened up immediately? i just found out more weather is coming so i'm not able to return home until tomorrow. then i can crack open the towers and let them air out...

that'll be ok?
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June 14, 2010 7:59:19 PM

get them out of the water asap...
leave them to dry for a while. take the sides off. a hairdrier might help.
i spilled wate ron my laptop. it died, my ram and hdd are fine.
June 15, 2010 3:37:42 AM

i went and did just that. got all the sides opened and fans on them.

now my digital projector was fuuull of water. i do not hold hope for it.
my main quad core looked ok, i yanked it out first--it's insides were clean. my recording pc, tho, is all dirty and awful and i can't imagine i'll be ok.

i'm not firing up any of them for a couple of days...but...we'll see.

thanks all. now starts salvaging of the rest of my belongings...

it's going to be a long clean up.
a b à CPUs
June 15, 2010 8:05:44 AM

Good luck m8. Sorry about your troubles. :/ 
June 15, 2010 9:26:35 AM

I just wanna share the same experience. i lived in a tropical country and flood became a welcomed guest every year. my brother house once got flooded for more than 150cm. this put his Full tower PC which sit on floor totally submerged and also the monitor and speaker on desk. He lost his LCD monitor, keyboard, mouse, DVD burner, PWR supply and speakers, but the rest of the PC work's fine and seems untouch by water. and here's what he did.. he just drawn his Mobo, mem, vga, and Proccessor (totally dissasembled including the vga sink), except the hardisk, into a big basket with 100%alcohol (he said this alcohol will suck every water left behind and make the water easier to evaporate into the air), and wash it using toothbrush to clean them. After that, he put it into oven and baked it for 5 minute. the next day, all those "unlucky"items has been working just fine using new power supply, mobo and cpu fan(using the old heatsink)monitor and other parts. as for the hardisk, he said that he was just lucky. he only need to dry them outside for 1 day in standing position with connector at the bottom side. After everything turned on, he put his data to a new hardisk, but still, that submerged hardisk still works fine untill today (6month already) as a gaming data.
It may not solved your problem, i just wanna share my experience with my brother PC.
June 15, 2010 1:21:43 PM

I'll get shot for this no doubt, but I used to regularly run CPUs under the tap and scrub the spreader plate to clean off old thermal paste... I'd then leave them in the airing cupboard for a couple of days at 30 degrees celcius or so.

If there was no power then you may well be fine if you give it literally days to dry out before you go near a power socket. You say the mechanical components (hard drives and opticals) were above water so you can hope. If you had power going through the systems though I'd say at the very least your PSU's and motherboards will be lunched.
a b à CPUs
June 15, 2010 7:02:21 PM

How lucky you are depends on how much "Irish" you are.
Very sorry to hear your tale.

1. Tap water / "flood" water contains a high amount of minerals that will be deposited on you boards and/or parts as they dry - reason to attempt cleaning before powering on.

2. Even though the Computers may have been off, unless the rocker switch in the back, or power removed (ie outlet strip switch) the Power supply was still providing a low power output. The "dirty" water was a conductor and you may have drawn current thru components.

3. Method for Cleaning before Testing (with crossed fingers). Get a couple of gallons of distilled water and a large quanty of Alcohol (around 91% is normally can be obtained at drug store - Not many places carry 100% although I'm able to get some at work).

Dissasemble computer system. For circuit boards, Place in large bowl ( big enough that you can agitate the board with distilled water. with the board emersed agitate for several minutes, do not let dry, transfer to a 2nd bowl with the alcohol, agitate and set aside to dry. If sunny day can set out side, if not preheat oven to 150 -> 200 F, turn Oven OFF and set boards in there with oven door cracked for 1 hour. remove and let stand over night.

For items Like HDD (nothing to lose), you can try placing in bucket with the alcohol for several minutes, then as some one pointed out stand on end (connectors down) for about a week before tryng.
June 18, 2010 11:50:08 PM

hey gang. thanks for the good vibrations.
unfortunately, i'm not irish or lucky.

the day of the flood (now 5 days back) i opened up all my electronics and hit them with fans.

my quad core PC tower looked immaculate inside and i had high hopes. finally last night i scrubbed the outlet/VGA connectors to remove corrosion and fired her up.

"please enter boot disk" or something like that. the HD is toast, is what i'm saying. same goes for my backup drive. it did power on but my USBs do not even read it as a device anymore.

my recording PC (for guitar tracks i write) is filthy inside, and it was laying on it's side. so i'm just calling that one a loss and giving it a viking funeral. same for my work laptop. i have photos of it in the dumpster.

finally, my main laptop, remarkably fired right up. there's clearly moisture behind the LCD (weird, amazing looking bright spots) so i check my back up sector (made sure it still worked) and shut it down ASAP as not to press my luck.

now, i dont know how i could consider it a reliable computer at this point, but 1 out of 4 (the main one, not the most expensive but certainly the most used) is still...somewhat alive.

as for my quad core tower, the architecture of the tower is such that the HD sits on the bottom so it was 100% under water. same goes for the cooling fans and the CPUS. ram was only half in the drink....power supplies and most wiring was above the waterline.

is it worth buying a new HD and trying to salvage it or should i sell it for parts and get on with life?
btw someone said "blow dryer". it was on the bottom shelf under the sink. UNDERWATER. haha. can't help but laugh at this point. my digital projector is toast, my stereo componants, my tv, sigh.
but i did manage to save my persian rugs. so. that's...something?
June 19, 2010 4:15:25 PM

hypothetically speaking, if my quad core ONLY lost the hard drive, would i be able to use recovery disks to get my OS back?

June 20, 2010 1:50:43 AM

yes you could. give it a shot. hard drives are cheap (relatively). just make sure you sont get a $e@g@te...they suck!
get a WD/WESTERN DIGITAL they rock!
June 20, 2010 2:04:36 AM

I really feel for you man. Best of luck in the times ahead =)
a b à CPUs
June 20, 2010 2:10:13 AM

shovenose said:
yes you could. give it a shot. hard drives are cheap (relatively). just make sure you sont get a $e@g@te...they suck!
get a WD/WESTERN DIGITAL they rock!


Well unless seagate drop in there quality that much in the past 7 years, i still have one and still running just fine without any problems (Pagefile & file drive) while my WD drive (about 5 to 6 years old) is starting to make Noise only under high HDD activity (OS drive).

@OP
Anyways, Sorry to hear about you're losses. :(  If i saw this thread sooner i would of said the same thing. As i've also had an electronic get totally soaked.

Now it was only an Ipod nano 2gen and it went though the washer.... but it's same concept. Try to open up what ever got wet and leave it open for many days.
!