For every convenience electronic devices bring us, there is an equal and opposite frustration. Flashlights go dim right as the power shuts off; the romantic date-night DVD has a fatal scratch; the smart phone fails to connect right when we need directions most. The most common ways electronic devices are damaged is when their owners drop them or get them wet, according to Aaron Cooper, marketing director for Worth Ave Group, which insures personal electronics like smart phones and laptops against lost, theft or damage. While warranties cover manufacturing defects, they won't cover scratched or broken screens, or the damage that results from submerging in water (including toilet water, a surprisingly common problem, according to Cooper and one that Worth Ave Group is proud to insure against). When it comes to claims, he said, "theft cracked screens and liquid damage that covers just about everything."
For those who didn't buy an insurance policy for that submerged, cracked, no-longer-functioning smart phone, try these eight ways to repair common electronics damages without using harsh chemicals or expensive products or paying a dime!
We learned in Electronics 101 to never mix water and electricity. Never. Unfortunately, accidents happen like you jumping into the lake to retrieve a lost oar and your cell phone coming with you. If you ever find that you have to deal with a wet device, don't just abandon it. Instead, try the following method to repair the water damage:
Short Battery Life
If you haven't already invested in a set of rechargeable batteries, you should consider it. Some batteries contain heavy metals, so limiting your overall use of and exposure to them is optimal. But if you're still relying on single-use batteries, you can also cut down on your consumption by making them last longer. Try these tips to get the most life from your batteries:
After a lot of use, it's hard to keep CDs, DVDs and other discs from getting a little scratched up, and scratches can cause discs to be virtually unusable. To repair minor disc scratches, look to the medicine cabinet for help:
Scratched LCD Screens
LCD screens, typically found on laptops and televisions, are susceptible to scratches that can really degrade the quality of the screen's performance. Rather than replacing a screen (or worse, replacing the whole machine), fix the scratch with one of these basic tools: a pencil eraser or petroleum jelly.
Over time, food, dirt and dust particles can accumulate in a keyboard, causing the keys to jam or become hard to use. Instead of replacing the entire keyboard, just take a few minutes to clean away the dirt and get it back working as if it were new!
Dead External Hard Drive
If you can no longer read data on an external hard drive, all is not lost, according to Christopher P. Conway, of GreenT Digital, a firm that advises companies in energy efficient computing technologies and techniques. The surprising secret to get access to your data at least for the time necessary to extract it is temperature.
"An old external hard drive that no longer can be read can often be resurrected for a short period using this trick," Conway writes. "Stick it in the freezer overnight inside a Ziploc bag. Plug it back in the a.m. and it may work for a few hours or longer so you can get your data off of it. Often the problem has to do with the breakdown of the internal lubricant of the hard drive which makes it unreadable. Repeat as necessary, but always assume that the drive will eventually be completely unreadable. File this in the realm of Old Wives Tales that work."
Lost Connection or Function
If your device can't connect, fails to act as expected or has otherwise lost its mojo, it could just need some tough love: Namely, a hard reset. That's the first step most help lines will recommend for a device in need of reviving from unexplained ills. For many devices, like Blackberries or laptops, that means turning it off and popping out the battery. For iPods and iPhones, it means holding down two buttons simultaneously. It won't fix everything, but for the tech novice, it's the easiest fix to try before calling for advanced help. Didn't work? Try these tips for speeding up your computer.
Use these easy, at-home repairs to make your electronics last as long as possible. Old devices pile up in landfills and leach toxic chemicals into the air and ground potentially contaminating the surrounding environment. Considering our affinity for personal electronics, this e-waste has become a dangerous and concerning problem. Recycling electronics properly is one important way to avoid e-waste, but it's even more important to learn how to keep them working!
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