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What are the signs of water damage in a pc?

Posted on 2009-04-15
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Im doing an assessment of a pc for a client. They are saying it has suffered water damage but Im not sure. It doesn't start up and I believe the Mboard & cpu  have blown but I don't think that it was casued by water.

Ive looked for but been unable to find:

- Mineral deposits and streaking
- Cables melted by short circuit
- Rust on case, screws and mountings.

Can anyone tell me what I should be looking for?  What other visible damage might water  cause?  Ive attached a photo showing discoloration of a part of the board that MIGHT be caused by water damage. What do you think?

Many Thanks!


gigabyte-water-damage.jpg
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Question by:xenonservices
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9 Comments
 
LVL 26

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PCBONEZ earned 500 total points
ID: 24146360
What you are pointing to is left over soldering resin. - Is normal to see a little here and there.

I've circled in red what looks to me might be water deposits.

The yellow shows a screw. Take it out and look for rust in the threads.
Also look at springs [if any] on the north bridge heatsink retainer pins.

It's a Pb Free [Lead Free] board which means Pb Free solder.
Compared to leaded solder Pb Free solder's natural appearance seems oxidized.
[It's dull, not shinny.]

Looking at that bar-code sticker if it did get wet it wasn't for long.
Edges of the sticker discolor and paper would curl.

It would depend on their story if I'd believe them. If it had power to it [even just in standby] and it got wet then even just a few drops in the wrong spot could kill it.

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by:PCBONEZ
ID: 24146362
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by:dbrunton
ID: 24146387
If you are talking about the green stuff then that could be corroded copper.

South of there at Capacitor EC1117 you've got what looks like a white powdery residue.  Brush/wipe with cloth some of that white stuff and see if it comes away.
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LVL 26

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by:PCBONEZ
ID: 24146470
Resin corrodes bare copper and brass. It's a mild acid. [About as strong as lemon or orange juice.]

White powdery residue is what I was pointing out with the red.
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LVL 63

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by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 24146551
Unless of course that "white powdery residue" turns out to be dust!

From a commercial point of view this motherboard is at least 3 years old and has depreciated to the point that it has no real commerical value

If it helps this is how it should look "out of the box"
http://prohardver.hu/dl/rev/2006-08/1261/picz/gbt/mobo.jpg
 
The other issue is how did the water get there if it's in a case you'd expect penetration from the edges and case damage.
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by:dbrunton
ID: 24146608
>> Resin corrodes bare copper and brass.

Interesting.

I've had corroded copper strips in motherboards but that was caused by old leaking 3.3 volt battery.  Vinegar cleans.  I was going to seal with nail polish but never got round to it.  Binned it in the end.  Old 386 motherboard from memory.
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Author Comment

by:xenonservices
ID: 24147122
Thanks guys.

PCBONEZ thats really helpful. Its dust on the board and  residual thermal paste from the heatsink on the fan mount.

Case has a grate with a dust screen / mesh underneath,  at the top of the case for ventilation. Thats where they are saying the water came from. About 300 - 500ml in volume. Nothing on the outside of the case and the mesh isn't wrinkled or stained.

Any further insight appreciated.  Thanks again.
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LVL 63

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by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 24147417
If the computer is already dead I'd show them what happens when you pour a pint of water in through the top grille! You're going to see watermarks all the way down the board and the bottom ot the case will have splatter marks and unless they are obsessively clean this will make "dust bunnies" at the bottom of the case.

I know we don't have the whole thing to look at but on the face of it this doesn't add up.
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LVL 69

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by:Callandor
ID: 24150345
If the water caused something to short out on the board and therefore killed it, I would think some burn marks would be visible, considering how clean the board looks.

I also agree with MASQ that water trails in the dust should be evident.
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