Save my roommate's mp3 player!
July 29, 2006 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Asking for my roommate: He just got stuck outside in a freak summer rainstorm. His mp3 player (a creative zen micro, if it matters) was in his (leather, normally fairly waterproof) bag. The rain was hard enough to drench everything in the bag. It got wet, and it looks like there's some water trapped in the display.

Can it be saved? It was off at the time, and he hasn't tried to turn it on since (although he did briefly plug the charger in to see if it would respond- no dice.)

For those not familiar with it, the zen micro's a flash player with a rechargeable battery.

It's sitting in our not-terrably humid apartment right now, on a paper towel. Is there anything better we can do? (I've read about similar things in the past but couldn't find any on a search.)
posted by Kellydamnit to Technology (23 answers total)
I don't have one, but the usual advise when a piece of electronics gets wet is to power it off and let it dry thoroughly before you try to power it on again.

So my advise is: remove the battery and let it dry out for a few days or longer. U could try using a hairdryer (not too hot) on it to get the majority of the dampness out.

Leave it as longer than you can bear before you turn it on. :)

posted by zaphod at 5:19 PM on July 29, 2006

As with any wet electronics, never turn it on until its completely dry. Best thing to do would be to let it dry completely over several days (leaving it in an oven at low temp or a dessiccator would work). Once its completely dry, cross your fingers and turn it on and pray that it works.
If the unit was turned off when it was wet, it will most likely work.

Good luck
posted by special-k at 5:20 PM on July 29, 2006

Since you can't make a warranty claim due to the water damage, therefore things can't really get "worse", let's go nuts. If you can disassemble it without wrecking it, open it as wide as you can and let it sit for a week or so. If you can still see water anywhere, even in the display, let it sit for another week. Repeat.

1. Do not sit it in an area that will be exposed to direct sunlight.

2. Stick it somewhere as close to room temperature as you can, with low humidity.

3. Make sure it's not sitting on anything that is a static charge magnet. Go with a lint-free cloth on a surface that isn't static-prone.

4. A corollary of #3: Refrain from touching it as much as possible while it's disassembled to reduce the chances of hosing it even more. It's quite possible to static-shock-fry a piece of electronics without even feeling the discharge through your fingertips.

5. If anyone tells you to use a hair dryer, ignore them. (I've heard people recommend this, and have talked to people who've done it, so I know it happens.) If there's water anywhere that you can't see, the heat may cause bad expansion damage. Hair dryers are also great ways to generate static charges, too.

Good luck, man!
posted by Mikey-San at 5:21 PM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Comment about my #5 there:

See? Someone's already told you to use a hair dyer. Told ya. ;-)
posted by Mikey-San at 5:22 PM on July 29, 2006

You know those little packets of silica gel that come in the box with some consumer electronics (and shoes) when you buy them? They're there to absorb moisture. Have your roomate put the mp3 player in a shoebox or paper bag with one (or more) of those silica gel packets until completely dry before attempting to turn on or charge the player.
posted by dersins at 5:22 PM on July 29, 2006

Dryer, rather.

The Internet needs to invent some kind of button that lets you "preview" your posts before you make them. Whoever invents that will make millions.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:24 PM on July 29, 2006

I like the silica gel packet idea. Seems like a very nice low-fi, non-destructive way to sap away some moisture. Perhaps do this for a few days, and then open up the shoebox to let the last little bit evaporate out.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:26 PM on July 29, 2006

Above are all good ideas, however: I am gonna go against the grain a little bit here; depending on the leather and how wet the player got, you may find that some chemicals have leached from the tanning process of the leather, into the player.

Step 1. Remove battery. Don't do anything until it is removed. Oh yeah, headphones too.

I would rinse it off in distilled water (or de-ionized which is generally more pure) and then let it dry. A lot of electronics are actually rinsed in this water (NOT TAP! DE-IONIZED OR DISTILLED) and allowed to dry before moving to the next portion of the assembly process. You can get this water at your local druggie mart.

After this has been done, THEN consider hair dryer on LOW setting and then use silica gel in an enclosed space (like a dry baggie). Don't use it for several days until you are absolutely sure you have dried it out. I have seen wristwatches that look clear until the weather gets cool, and the moisture condenses on the crystal. Groovy effect, but lousy for telling the time.

Good luck.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 5:33 PM on July 29, 2006

Yeah, I've had to do similar things with de-ionized water before. I'd forgotten to mention it.

Seriously, though, having worked in repair depots with hardware SQEs, hair dryers are typically frowned upon. They do nothing that natural air-drying won't do, but they do it more quickly, which is a problem due to rapid component/breadboard expansion. Microfractures are terrible things.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:38 PM on July 29, 2006

Soak it in high concentration (90% or higher) alcohol and then ether (starting fluid which is available at your local auto parts store). You can probably skip the ether because the alcohol evaporates so quickly, but the ether evaporates much, much faster.
posted by caddis at 5:50 PM on July 29, 2006

I've got the same player and they're fairly easy to disassemble. Have a look at these guides.
posted by roue at 6:12 PM on July 29, 2006

Since water dissolves in ethanol soaking it in ethanol will remove all the water so that it will dissolve faster. Don't let it get near any open flames if you try that though!

I would just let it dry for a few days. Does the Zen micro have a removable battery?
posted by delmoi at 6:15 PM on July 29, 2006

I dropped my Creative Zen Micro in a bucket of hot water and bleach. Take off the battery case, let it dry for a couple of days in a sunny window, and it was fine (it didn't turn off automatically any more, but it still worked otherwise).
posted by schroedinger at 6:54 PM on July 29, 2006

Oh, and take out the batteries, too, if it wasn't obvious.
posted by schroedinger at 6:54 PM on July 29, 2006

Don't know about a Zen Micro but I did drop a visor edge in the toilet immediately after peeing. I went the disassemble and rinse route. Let it get good and dry (in New Mexico we complain about dampness with 20% humidity), and used it for 9 months until it spontaneously converted into a paperweight.
posted by pointilist at 12:00 AM on July 30, 2006

If you want to try silica gel, you can buy a big container of it in the cat litter section of pet stores.
posted by clarahamster at 12:25 AM on July 30, 2006

I'm with everyone else. Remove battery, optionally rinse with distilled water, then let dry for several days.

You could, after drying, try to bake out more moisture, but I think you'd have to be very careful to avoid 'popcorn' effect on the chips (which aren't hermetically sealed). Probably not worth the risk. But you could try slowly ramping up the temperature to 85C or so over a few hours. (Definitely avoid doing this to the battery.)

As FTG points out, most electronics is rinsed in water (and/or isopropyl alcohol or ...) at some point in its manufacture anyway. The components that can't handle this tend to be beepers, small switches, anything with a moving part or sliding contact.

Really, the odds are decent that you can just let it dry on a shelf for a week and it'll be fine.
posted by hattifattener at 1:25 AM on July 30, 2006

Repeat everything about not turning it on until dry.

Add to that, putting the device into a bag of rice. Sounds wierd, but rice is a natural dessicant.
posted by asavage at 10:10 AM on July 30, 2006

Want to second the quality of this disassembly tutorial. I used it twice (long story, with no connection to the quality of the tutorial) to fix the headphone jack of my Zen Micro.

I'm willing to wager that the process above, coupled with storing the display/drive unit with some silica gel for a week or so, would work well.

Good luck.
posted by CMichaelCook at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2006

Micky-san, good advise about the hair-dryer.

Mick the Zaphod
posted by zaphod at 11:29 AM on July 30, 2006

i droped my ipod in to the bath opened the back and pit it in to a bag of rice for a few day still working
posted by baker dave at 7:02 AM on July 31, 2006

If it's still under warranty and it doesn't work after your roommate has dried it out, try sending it back. So long as you've no moral problems with forgetting to use "water" or similar words when reporting the problem, you'll probably get a new one back. Creative is pretty good about this -- and, thanks to this thread, I now know that I'm not the only one in the world who did this with an mp3 player...
posted by vorfeed at 12:46 PM on July 31, 2006

Many electronic products have areas which are inked in such a way that water damage can be detected.
posted by caddis at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2006

« Older Need to sell my art, what software do I use?   |   Am I damaging my hearing? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.