Can a flooded PC still work

  allybe 02:57 14 Feb 2008


I have been given for free a Dell Dimension 5000 PC which was damaged in the floods.It was I believe turned off at the time but was still plugged in.The PSU will have to be replaced I know.But is there any chance that I can get it working again or shall I just salvage the parts that weren't submerged & contact Dell to collect the rest.
I know that quite a few electronic items that get wet once dismantled & left to dry throughly they have a high chance of working again.
Do you think that I can get it up & running again who should I forget it?

  Dragon_Heart 04:18 14 Feb 2008

A far as I am aware Dell PC's still use Dell spec motherboards and they are expensive and only fitted by a Dell technician ! If that's gone you can forget it.

If you can get a cheap PCU, say second hand, it may be worth trying your luck. Whole PC will need a good clean of electric's. Depending on type of flood the water that got inside the PC it could also contain raw sewerage.

  crosstrainer 07:51 14 Feb 2008

Dismantle everything, and use a hairdryer on a LOW setting to ensure that all residual water has been removed. Clean all memory modules carefully paying particular attention to the gold edges.

When you are certain you have removed all water and dirt, re-assemble and try with the new psu. If the hard drives have been submerged in water however it is very unlikely that they will ever work again.

  Technotiger 08:09 14 Feb 2008

Hmm, some people do take their water-cooling to extremes .....

Sorry, don't mean to be flippant, but personally I would forget it. I don't think you will ever be able to completely get rid of all the muck that gets involved in floods!

  Gongoozler 09:37 14 Feb 2008

The chances of getting the flooded pc to work are slim, but you have little to lose by trying. The PSU might be salvageable as long as it has dried out slowly in a warm place over a long period of time. The real problem with modern electronics is water trapped under surface mounted components. The gap is large enough for water to get in, but too narrow for it to evaporate, and as the connections are often ball-grid, i.e. underneath the component the trapped water can short the contacts. The input impedance of the components is so high that even the tiniest bit of water conductivity causes a malfunction. Having been so negative, I still think it's worth trying. Take off the case covers. Disconnect all the drives and the processor. Leave the opened case in a warm dry place for a few weeks. Refit the CPU, PSU and graphics card. Now try to boot the PC. If you get as far as the POST beeps and the message that no Operating System has been found, then you have a chance, and can try the hard drive. The good thing about the hard drive is that the mechanical parts are sealed, so as long as you can dry the electronics you have a chance. The optical drives are a different matter, but they are reasonably cheap to replace.

  johndrew 10:36 14 Feb 2008

Strange as it may sound, it might well be worth washing everything in clean water before you dry it. That way you should get rid of any contaminants that may be conductive or mud which may retain moisture for long periods. I also think the only way of both cleaning and drying is to completely strip the PC to ensure all contact surfaces are dry.

I agree with the process Gongoozler suggests for drying as well but it is worth noting that corrosion of contact surfaces can occur which may either cause problems immediately or in the future.

  Totally-braindead 10:43 14 Feb 2008

Flood waters are not exactly clean. I think the advice about washing it in clean water might be whats needed to start, then leaving it to dry in the likes of an airing cupboard.
It might still fire up when dried out but even when switched off there is still power to the motherboard, most have an LED that if you look you can see is on 24/7 and whether that would do anything I don't know.
As for repairing it if it didn't fire up I think its a waste of time as you wouldn't know what part was actually faulty.

  mooly 11:33 14 Feb 2008

Hi, As an electronics engineer I have worked on many liquid damaged items, video recorders tv,s, etc. There are a couple of major problems, if there ia any kind of battery backup e.g. lithium coin cell then the voltage from this will cause a form of electroylitic corrosion on the P.C.B. It will literally eat away at components. If the board is of a "multilayer" construction you have a problem. These are PCB,s that may have several layers of "track" sandwiched together, moisture ingress will cause failure now or in days to come.As johndrew says washing with water can work, hot and with detergent is best, then a good rinse and use a soft brush.If you can see any white deposits or any of the copper track looks "fretted" then probably no good. The track and pin spacing of modern surface mount components is so small that residue creates a conductive path. All that said it's surprising what you can get away with, I have washed many a T.V. main P.C.B. with perfect results, oh and use an oven on low 40 to 50 degrees C to dry it as quickly as poss, apart from batteries all electronic components will have a minimum temperature rating of 85 degrees C, any plastic bits obviously less.

  DieSse 11:39 14 Feb 2008

If it was plugged in at the time - as you say - then it's almost certain that most, if not all, of the electronics will have blown - as most of them have power on when the system is plugged in.

If it was not plugged in it would have been a very different situation.

  jakimo 11:46 14 Feb 2008

If the floods you refer too were those that we had months ago,then I would give up the idea of trying to make the pc usable.

There has been plenty of time for corrosion to set in and eat away major parts, but as an exercise and without spending money, have a go but don't expect to end up with a usable system.

  allybe 22:42 14 Feb 2008

Thanks guys for all your advice & I have more details from the previous owner of the PC.It was on a cabinet quite high up so roughly only 2/3 of the PC got wet so the Hard Drive (which they have removed)the modem & the graphics are probably useless as they where in the flooded area.It has been stored in a garage for the last 6 months so corrosion may have set in.However the motherboard looks clean & the Ram has only dust on it.
So far I think that the ram & dvd rw are ok but until I strip it all down I have no idea if the cpu came into contact with the flood water.
I think it looks promising so far but I will take out the steps that you have all suggested to see if I can get it up & running again

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