How to fix that gizmo you dropped in the loo

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

It happens to everyone: one moment, you’re talking on your cell or dialing up a tune on your MP3 player, and the next, you’re staring down at your gadget in a toilet, a puddle, or worse.

If your portable electronic device gets dropped or submerged, is there anything you can do? Fortunately, the answer is yes.

What to do before you call the shop

Whether you left your iPod in your pocket when you did your laundry, discovered that your dog thinks your Zune is a chew toy, spilled coffee on your Treo in your car’s cupholder, or dropped your phone in the sink while shaving during your conference call, you’ve probably discovered the hard way that today’s electronics are not invulnerable.

When disaster like this strikes, what should you do? I spoke with Aaron Vronko, co-founder of Rapid Repair, based in Kalamazoo, Mich. Rapid Repair specializes in iPod and iPhone repairs, but also handles repairs of Zunes and other small appliances. Vronko told me what you can do to rescue your portable electronic device.

First, the obvious: water and electronics don’t mix

If you merely dropped your handheld device on a hard, dry surface, your problem may not be too serious. In cases of dry damage, dust off your device and turn it on. If you can’t make it work, you’ll need to find a repair service. But you probably won’t be out more than a nominal charge to see if it can be fixed.

A much bigger danger is secondary damage caused by exposure to water or other liquids.

“That’s when the most damage happens,” says Vronko. “People don’t realize how much liquid can get inside or the harm it can do.” What happens next can determine whether your device lives or dies.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-03-13: