Solved! Asus ROG laptop was 1/3rd submerged. Is it dead?

RedLine103

Prominent
Jun 24, 2017
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510
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Hi, There was a fire in my friends house a few weeks ago and has managed to save her laptop. the only thing is that it was 1/3rd under water (The front lid area was facing down in the bag.) I have dissassembled the laptop. the harddrive, possibly ram, m.2 ssd, usb ports, keyboard ribbon cable plugs, and a small part of the gpu has been submerged, is there a way to bring it back? She said she tried to power it 4 days after letting it dry.
 
How you dry it is actually just as if not more important than how long it's been wet. It sounds like she just let it sit and air-dry for 4 days. That's actually the worst way to do it - it maximizes the amount of localized water contact. If the entire laptop is submerged, only the parts with the highest voltage potential corrode. (Boats take advantage of this by using what are called sacrificial anodes to protect other metal parts from corroding. But it only works if all the hull is electrically connected by the same body of water - doesn't work if you put the boat on a trailer).

If you allow the laptop to dry slowly, then each bead of water will cause corrosion between different metal parts in contact with that one bead. Instead of the corrosion being isolated to the one metal piece with the highest voltage differential, the corrosion occurs in the metal piece with the highest voltage differential within each bead of water. The laptop should've been immediately disassembled, the parts patted dry with towels/chamois to soak up as much water as possible, given an alcohol bath to force out any trapped water, then dried quickly with forced air from a fan.

Likewise, if the HDD has been submerged and you need the data off of it, you're actually better off if it's still wet inside. Plug it into another computer to see if it works. If it doesn't, get it to a recovery service ASAP. Corrosion of the platters will occur evenly over the entire surface if it's submerged. But as it dries out, the corrosion becomes concentrated in the beads of water and you end up with concentrated pits and deposits which will crash the heads.

FWIW, SSDs are extremely robust so it probably survived, so you should be able to recover the data on it. Same for sealed ICs like the CPU and GPU. Their achilles heel is the metal contacts which connect them to the motherboard.

The other big killer is the battery. When submerged, its high voltage can short out more sensitive electronic components (19V vs CPU designed for 3.3V usually means a fried CPU). It also forces current to flow, accelerating corrosion of the metal parts. So the battery should have been disconnected and removed as soon as possible. Lithium-ion batteries also are programmed to kill themselves if they're over-discharged (trying to recharge them after can cause them to catch fire or explode). So if the battery has shorted it's likely unrecoverable. Power-on attempts should be done using the AC adapter (a new one, not the wet one), and with the battery disconnected.

As it's been several weeks since the fire, this is probably all water under the bridge at this point. If it's dry and won't power on, call it dead and file an insurance claim rather than waste any more time trying to revive it. Send the HDD to a recovery service if needed.
 

kanewolf

Judicious
Moderator
That is tough. Water inside a hard drive is likely to ruin it. You could try a USB adapter to see if you can get any data, but I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope. If there is something worth the cost, then sending to a professional data recovery service is the best answer.
 
How you dry it is actually just as if not more important than how long it's been wet. It sounds like she just let it sit and air-dry for 4 days. That's actually the worst way to do it - it maximizes the amount of localized water contact. If the entire laptop is submerged, only the parts with the highest voltage potential corrode. (Boats take advantage of this by using what are called sacrificial anodes to protect other metal parts from corroding. But it only works if all the hull is electrically connected by the same body of water - doesn't work if you put the boat on a trailer).

If you allow the laptop to dry slowly, then each bead of water will cause corrosion between different metal parts in contact with that one bead. Instead of the corrosion being isolated to the one metal piece with the highest voltage differential, the corrosion occurs in the metal piece with the highest voltage differential within each bead of water. The laptop should've been immediately disassembled, the parts patted dry with towels/chamois to soak up as much water as possible, given an alcohol bath to force out any trapped water, then dried quickly with forced air from a fan.

Likewise, if the HDD has been submerged and you need the data off of it, you're actually better off if it's still wet inside. Plug it into another computer to see if it works. If it doesn't, get it to a recovery service ASAP. Corrosion of the platters will occur evenly over the entire surface if it's submerged. But as it dries out, the corrosion becomes concentrated in the beads of water and you end up with concentrated pits and deposits which will crash the heads.

FWIW, SSDs are extremely robust so it probably survived, so you should be able to recover the data on it. Same for sealed ICs like the CPU and GPU. Their achilles heel is the metal contacts which connect them to the motherboard.

The other big killer is the battery. When submerged, its high voltage can short out more sensitive electronic components (19V vs CPU designed for 3.3V usually means a fried CPU). It also forces current to flow, accelerating corrosion of the metal parts. So the battery should have been disconnected and removed as soon as possible. Lithium-ion batteries also are programmed to kill themselves if they're over-discharged (trying to recharge them after can cause them to catch fire or explode). So if the battery has shorted it's likely unrecoverable. Power-on attempts should be done using the AC adapter (a new one, not the wet one), and with the battery disconnected.

As it's been several weeks since the fire, this is probably all water under the bridge at this point. If it's dry and won't power on, call it dead and file an insurance claim rather than waste any more time trying to revive it. Send the HDD to a recovery service if needed.
 

RedLine103

Prominent
Jun 24, 2017
3
0
510
0
I'm, not really concerned about the HDD and so is she , i just want to know if the laptop will still work, from what i know is that the laptop was recovered hours after being submerged, i have no idea if the battery was removed or not. She will be getting a replacement AC adapter so maybe after everything is cleaned and put back together we will see.
 
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