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Nintendo's first 3DS handheld device released February 2011, identified by model number CTR-001.

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Water damage: What steps should I take?

Hello,

A few hours ago I left my 3DS in a friends bag and his water bottle spilled all over it. I got to it around an hour after the spill: the DS was still powered on, but would not wake from sleep mode and the top screen had visible water in it. I powered it off, then on again, both screens did not work. I turned it off and have it sitting in rice right now.

What steps do I need to take from here besides rice to make sure I can at least attempt a repair? I have no problem disassembling it if that is required.

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Hi @keegunator

The impurities in the water causes corrosion and provides circuit paths for the electricity which were not in the game console's operating design and could damage the components. The corrosion starts immediately and is ongoing until it is completely cleaned away.

Using rice to try and fix water damaged electronics is a myth, it doesn't work. Rice is for dinner, not repair

First do not try to charge or to turn on your console and then remove the battery as soon as possible from the device to minimize any further damage.

Then you need to dis-assemble the rest of the device and clean all the affected parts using Isopropyl Alcohol 99%+ (available at electronics parts stores) to remove all traces of corrosion and water. If possible do not use "rubbing alcohol" as in some cases this is only 70% IPA or less, can contain additives which may leave conductive residues and is not as effective. If you do have to use it check the label to verify the amount of IPA. The higher the percentage of IPA the better

Here is a link that describes the process. Electronics Water Damage

As always with electronics, especially surface mounted pcb be gentle when handling and especially when brushing away the corrosion. You do not want to remove any components from the board. The ends of any flex cables and their connectors need to be cleaned as well

Hopefully after you have done all this, it might possibly work correctly again.

Here is the ifixit Nintendo 3DS repair guide that may help.

If this process seems too daunting, take your console to a reputable, professional electronics repair service, experienced in liquid damage repair and ask for a quote for a repair. If you decide to do this, do it sooner than later.

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Hey @jayeff

Thanks for your quick response and explanation.

I’m honestly quite surprised the rice thing is a myth considering how everyone I know believes it (infact that very same friend told me to leave it in rice for 6 months.. good thing I asked here)

I’m going to remove the battery tonight and then disassemble and clean in the morning (It’s 1 am in california right now)

If I can successfully clean it off tomorrow what would you say the odds are of it functioning? Do you think the screen would still need replacement?

完成的

@keegunator

The odds of it working correctly increase the sooner you can fix it. Removing the battery as soon as, gives you the best possible chance.

If there's water in the screen then it will have to be replaced.

Yes it's amazing how the rice myth is still being perpetuated. Those that say it works were either very lucky or initially it seemed to work OK after using rice but then days, weeks or even months later things start to go wrong. You never hear about that though ;-)

If you think about it, rice is a hard case seed and to absorb moisture it has to be in contact with it. It does absorb moisture from the air, but if you just place the device in a bag of rice, there's no actual physical contact between the rice and the water inside the device.

Also water conducts electricity so there will be possible component damage as the battery is still connected even though the device is off. The impurities in the water can also set up a galvanic reaction between the different metals used in electrical components and this creates the corrosion as well and is exacerbated if there's power connected also.

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@jayeff

Quick update,

I disassembled the back plate and I have access to the motherboard now. It (appears) dry, and at a glance I don't see any corrosion, but the water damage indicators have activated. I will go ahead and brush everything off in isopropyl alcohol and then look at and see if I can attempt a top screen replacement (given that the motherboard still works)

Thanks for your help!

Another update:

Water was not directly in the LCD; it was in between the LCD and the 3D lens. I seperated them and I'm letting them dry. There was some corrosion on the bottom of the motherboard upon a closer inspection but I cleaned that off relatively easily. I think the ribbon cable for the front and back cameras are broken as well, corrosion all over the middle of it that I couldn't get off. Not too much of a problem though. I'm gonna re assemble it tomorrow and try to power it on.

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@keegunator

If water hadn't penetrated the LCD screen then it may be still OK. Worth a try anyway before getting a replacement.

Good that you persevered and so did find evidence of corrosion.

When cleaning water damaged devices you can only do so much and when satisfied that you have done all you can, then you need to start testing and check what works and what doesn't and try to fix what you can.

Depending on the severity of the initial damage unfortunately you may not be able to economically fix it. It happens.

Good luck

完成的

Yeah didn't work unfortunately. Lights turn on, no display or speaker, couldn't get into recovery mode. It was worth a shot though. Maybe I'll get another one. Thanks for your help though.

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