Toplikar: Keeping iPods afloat

Don't fret! Soaked devices can be revived if proper steps taken

It was Julie’s voice on my cell phone.

“Hey, Dad. I have some bad news.”

I took a deep breath. You never know what to expect.

My daughter set up the scene: She woke up thirsty in the middle of the night, got a drink, then set the glass of water on her nightstand.

The next morning she found the glass knocked over. Water had spilled all over her iPod.

“It doesn’t turn on,” Julie said.

Several of her friends told her it was too late, as iPods and water do not mix. Water can seep in through the seams, shorting out the electronics.

But I wondered if her iPod was : what was that line from Billy Crystal in “The Princess Bride” when we thought the hero had all the life sucked out of him by a torture machine?

“There’s a big difference between your iPod being all dead and mostly dead,” I said.

Miracle Macs

I called Dave Greenbaum, who has worked a few miracles for me before. He runs a Lawrence-based on-site computer support business as “DoctorDave” at and is president of the Lawrence Apple User’s Group.

Thad Allender/Journal-World Photo An iPod in a floatie.

“Don’t turn it on,” Greenbaum warned.

I had this sinking feeling.

“You know, the very first thing she did was try to turn it on,” I said.

“That’s the instinct,” Greenbaum said. “And that’s the last thing you do.”

However, Greenbaum wasn’t quite ready for me to give up hope.

There was a chance, he said, that the iPod didn’t short-circuit when it was wet.

“It’s all confused right now and can’t form circuits,” he said. “But really, once it dries out, there’s a very good chance it will be OK.”

He suggested putting it in a dry environment and waiting about a week before trying to turn it on.

Greenbaum told me that many an iPod owner had faced similar problems – either leaving an iPod in a pocket and running it through the wash, or going into a pool or lake while leaving it in a pocket.

To the rescue

Ryan Arter, owner of iPodResQ, a national iPod repair service based in Olathe, said he’s dealt with hundreds of iPods that were damaged when wet, including one that fell into a cup of beer while at a Rolling Stones concert.

“If it can happen to an iPod, we’ve seen it,” he said.

Arter says the best way to help a soaked iPod is to crack it open and dry out the insides. Owners also would be advised to buy a translucent waterproof cover for their iPods or Nanos, such as a product called “Invisible Shield,” he said.

“It’s a really thin plastic layer that you can’t even really detect,” he said. It helps to seal some of the cracks, but it doesn’t cover the scroll wheel.

He offers some tips if your iPod gets wet:

¢ Don’t turn it on.

¢ Don’t plug it in to the charger.

¢ Give it at least 24 hours to dry out.

¢ If it falls into a bathtub, pool or swimming pool while it’s on, try to turn it off. Then let it sit and dry. “Lay it in the sun to try to heat it up a little bit to get the moisture out of it,” he says.

¢ Don’t throw it away. Sometimes it might just be a simple component that needs to be changed, he said.

Life preserver

Julie and I looked at each other, then at the iPod.

“Should I try to turn it on?”

Her iPod had been propped in front of the fan for a week.

I nodded.

Julie picked it up. Its surface was shiny, smooth – and dry. But was the inside dry?

Julie pushed the center button.


Next, she connected it to the charger, then plugged it in.

Her mood changed and her eyes lit up as bright as the Apple that appeared on the LCD screen.

“It’s alive!” she shouted. “ALIVE!”

We laughed as the menu came up.

“Now I’ll just charge it,” she said, setting it down. “OK. I’ve gotta go.”

Puzzled at her quick exit, I followed her downstairs. Then I saw her friends were waiting.

“Any final words?” I called out.

She came back inside and hugged me.

“I’m not going to get any water near my iPod,” she said. “… And you’re going to have a nice Father’s Day.”