Spilling water on your laptop, or any other gadget for that matter can seem a life or death situation. But these unfortunate accidents mean you have to scrap your tech and invest in a new iPod, mobile phone or camera right?

Wrong. Take a look at out step-by-step guide that will ensure you resuscitate nine of your most precious gadgets.

Replace an iPod battery

Apple iPods  look svelte and stylish without a battery door, but the omitted hatch makes the whole thing worthless if your battery gives up the ghost. All batteries degrade through time and use; expect your iPod's to last between one and three years.

Today's batteries work best when kept plugged in as much as possible, rather than being allowed to run down, and your iPod will last longer if you keep it charged as often as you can.

Once the iPod's battery can't keep a charge, you can pay Apple or a repair shop to replace it. But you can do it yourself for about half as much money, and in many instances you'll get a better-performing battery than the company originally provided.

Most iPods open in a similar way: the front upper half with the screen lifts away from the metal backing. Many sources of replacement batteries provide instructions for specific iPod models. For example Battery Logic offer iPod batteries from £9.99.

First, turn off the iPod and lock the Hold switch. You'll need to wedge something between the two halves to release the internal latches. A tiny flathead screwdriver would be likely to gouge the plastic front or the metal backing. Some battery kits include plastic tools that are safer; guitar picks can also do the job.

Carefully, but with the necessary force, work a plastic wedge into the seam along the side. Aim the tip toward the device's back; the metal backing cradles the front, so that's the only direction for the tool to travel. Once your tool is inside, gently work it around the iPod's edges. The case might try to snap shut where you just opened it, so I like to leave extra guitar picks in place.

Separate the metal backing from the front carefully - a thin ribbon cable connects them. Use a small screwdriver to lift the plastic latch holding the battery cable to the iPod.

Once you've freed the battery, remove and replace it. Seal everything back up; the pieces will snap back into place. Last step: Recharge the iPod.

NEXT PAGE: Revive a stuck LCD pixel

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera


PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.

Revive a stuck LCD pixel

LCD monitors contain millions of pixels, each one composed of three subpixels: red, blue, and green. When all three are on, a pixel looks white. Other combinations create other colours. A pixel can become stuck showing one hue. But you can fix this.

Determine whether the pixel is just stuck or completely dead. If it shows only black, it's probably inoperable. If it shows a solid colour, though, it may be stuck, and you may be able to shock it back into operation.

Make sure that your LCD is clean - spray a few blasts of compressed air, and follow up by wiping with a scratch-free cloth and screen cleaner.

Verify that your PC is outputting the image in your LCD's native resolution so you can identify pixels more easily. In the Start menu open the Control Panel and select the Display option. Click the Settings tab, and adjust the resolution. (Consult your display's documentation, if necessary.)

Download and install UDPixel to identify and fix the problem. In UDPixel, increase the Run cycle option to four seconds, and click the Run cycle button. The display will cycle through red, green, blue, black, white, and yellow. A stuck pixel should be visible against every hue but the one it's stuck in; unchanging dots are problem areas. Click to stop the colour cycle.

For multiple pixels, increase the Flash window number by 1 for each stuck pixel. Otherwise, click Start; a small, 5-by-5-pixel box will appear. Reposition the box around the stuck pixel, and wait 15 to 20 minutes. Click Reset to turn it off, and repeat the colour cycle to see if the pixel has cleared.

If the problem persists, check your LCD warranty to see if you can replace the screen.

If you can't make such a replacement, try applying direct pressure. Wrap the tip of a PDA stylus or similar object in a scratch-free cloth, and use UDPixel to find the trouble spot.

Align the covered tip of the stylus directly over the uncooperative pixel. Turn off the screen, and gently (carefully) apply pressure for 5 to 10 seconds. Turn the screen back on, and check the pixel.

If it's still stuck, repeat. If you get no results, try wrapping the rounded, plastic end of a marker pen in a scratch-free cloth, and gently tap the afflicted area a few times.

If you're lucky, one of these tricks will revive the pixel.

NEXT PAGE: Dry a submerged phone

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera


PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.

Dry a submerged phone

You don't feel much like talking now that your fancy new phone is at the bottom of the bath, ocean, or - shudder - toilet. But if you retrieve your handset quickly, you might be able to get it working again - if you take action right away.

Remove the battery immediately. If the phone is still on, don't bother turning it off first (or saying goodbye, whoever you were talking to has probably hung up anyway). If the battery doesn't pop out easily - I'm looking at you, iPhone - at least power it off as soon as possible. Pop out the SIM card, too, if it has one.


After quickly removing the power source, you can spend a little longer stripping the phone down further. If it's an iPhone, open it by wedging a guitar pick in the seam around its sides. On most other phones, remove the plastic shell with a screwdriver designer for use on glasses. Look beneath stickers if the screws are hidden from view.

Wash out the phone, especially if it met chlorinated water or saltwater, which can conduct electricity and corrode parts more easily than tap water. Use electronic circuit cleaner fluid to wash the inside.

Let the phone air-dry for a couple of hours on a sunny windowsill or other warm area. Don't use a hair dryer - excessive heat can cause more damage. Then submerge the phone in a bowl or plastic bag full of uncooked rice; seal the bowl airtight with plastic wrap (a bag should be re-sealable). The rice will absorb moisture and help the evaporation process; just keep it out of direct sunlight to avoid condensation.

Leave the phone sealed up for at least a couple of days. If you use a SIM card, you can pop that card into an unlocked handset to make calls while you're waiting.

Remove the phone from the bowl or bag and, using a can of compressed air, gently spray off any rice dust. (Push the button in a series of quick blasts, instead of holding it down.) Reassemble the phone, add the SIM if needed, and make a call.

If the phone won't come back to life, you're probably out of luck. But the SIM card (if your phone has one) should still have your contacts stored on it. Try inserting it in a new phone, or bring the old hardware and SIM to your carrier for help; its technicians may be able to recover the phone's address book.

NEXT PAGE: Clean a spill on a laptop

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera


PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.

Clean a spill on a laptop

When liquids meet electronics, you can't waste time. Conductive liquids cause most of the initial damage. Immediately unplug the laptop from its power cord, and pull out the battery. Don't bother closing programs or saving data.

Working quickly, remove all cables and attachments, plus any swappable optical drive or PC card. Tilt the laptop to get most of the liquid out the same way it came in, but be careful as you turn the machine over. Keep liquid away from the LCD. If liquid is on the surface, however, dab the outside with a clean towel.

Unscrew the outer case, and remove the plastic shell to expose the internal circuits. You can disassemble parts even further, separating individual components to help them dry. Do as much of this as you are comfortable with.

If advanced disassembly unnerves you, consider taking the laptop to a good local repair shop at this stage. But even without further assistance, your first aid may save your system.

If you do disassemble the PC, consider cleaning the affected parts with electronics circuit cleaner. If all you spilled was a little water, this step is likely more trouble than it's worth.

Other drinks are more conductive and corrosive. However, if you've spilled a lot of liquid - more than a quarter of a cup - dab the parts with a fresh towel full of circuit cleaner.

Now wait for your system to dry. Leave the laptop disassembled or open and upside-down for a couple of days. Wait even longer if you can. Avoid using a hair dryer to speed up the process. Instead, leave the laptop in a warm room, next to a windowsill or in another dry location.

Reassemble the laptop and turn it back on. If the keys are sticky, turn the system off; disassemble the keyboard for fine cleaning with electronics cleaner.

If the laptop won't turn on, your hard drive may still work. Remove the drive, put it in another case or hook it to an adapter, and connect it to a different PC.

NEXT PAGE: Reseat loose components

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera


PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.

Reseat loose components

Your PC was working fine yesterday, but then you moved it, and now it won't boot. A loose component could be the culprit. The jostling a system endures during a move-especially one involving a long car ride-can unseat internal components from their slots.

Before you unplug the computer, touch metal to ground yourself. Then move your system to an uncarpeted area, if necessary, before opening the case. And wear an antistatic wrist strap if you have one.

Open the case and begin hunting for the offending part. Perhaps something looks physically amiss, hanging out at an odd angle. If so, you know exactly where to zero in. More often, however, you'll have to fix the problem by unplugging and reattaching parts.

Start with the PCI cards and RAM. Unscrew each PCI or other card you use, in turn, and lift it straight out of its slot. Watch for a plastic release tab or other lever that you might have to bend first (these are most common on slots for video cards). Handle all components by their edges; oils in your skin could cause damage if you directly touch exposed surfaces.

Before: a board with a loose card. After: the same card, reseated.

Once you've cleared the slot, push the card straight back in. It should slide down without your having to rock it in any direction, landing with a satisfying thunk.

Repeat these steps with RAM. Most motherboards release their RAM modules if you pull apart levers on the modules' edges. Do that, and lift the RAM straight up. Leave the levers in the open position once the RAM is out.

Push the RAM module straight down, again without rocking, to reinstall it. The levers will snap to their closed position. Be gentle; don't force in any PC parts.

Close the case, and try booting up the PC. If it still won't start, open it back up, and unplug and then reconnect all of the internal cables. If you still have problems, try connecting only the most basic cards and components, such as the original RAM. If this works, successively add the disconnected parts back in to see if one of them-or its slot-is malfunctioning.

NEXT PAGE: Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera


PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.

Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive

If you think it would be a good idea to print your business card on a specially cut, rectangular mini-CD, think again. Your contacts might never forget the headache of having the disc jam inside a slot-loading optical drive. If such a jam happens to you, follow these steps to release the disc.

Try to clear a stuck mini-CD or mini-DVD the simple way. Tilt the drive so that its slot points downward. (This is easy if the computer involved is a laptop, as is most often the case.) Then try pressing the eject button and gently shaking the machine. These motions - with an assist from gravity - might release the disc.


If the disc remains stuck, attach a piece of two-sided tape to a thin, sturdy business card or a plastic gift card. Slide it, sticky side down, three quarters of the way into the slot above the disc, and press down to snare the disc.

Lift the card up slightly, and pull both it and the attached disc out of the slot. Work carefully, and don't rummage around with more drastic tools (such as paper clips) that could damage the drive.

Attach double-stick tape to a sturdy card. Insert this card into the CD slot, above the disc, press down, and pull the CD out.
Strange-shaped discs usually work in tray-loading drives, but some slot loaders can also accept them. Check your computer or optical-drive manual to make sure in advance.

Clean a clogged port

Over time, ports on your electronic equipment can become clogged with dust and other debris. And if you're having trouble getting USB or other devices to work with your computer, cleaning any grime from the connecting ports is a good first step.

Turn off the hardware first. If you can see that the port is severely clogged - say, with jam or another thick, child-friendly substance - gently dig the gunk out with toothpicks. But remember: Ethernet, serial, and other jacks rely on fragile pins, so try to move in and out on the same path instead of swirling around the sides.

For less sticky situations, use a can of compressed air to blast out loose bits. Fire at the target in short bursts.

Finish cleaning with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or electronics cleaner. Leave the device turned off for a couple hours to dry.

 

NEXT PAGE: Clean a dusty PC

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera


PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.

Clean a dusty PC

If your desktop PC's case gets dirty as time goes by, grime can clog the fans that keep internal parts cool. If airflow is blocked, those parts could overheat.

First, shut everything down, and unplug all cables besides the power cord. Touch a metal part of the case - such as the PCI slot cover - and then unplug the power cable. This will discharge any potential static externally, instead of damaging electrically sensitive components inside. Wear shoes, and work in an uncarpeted room.


A few more precautions can add further protection. Use a layer of rubber (such as mouse pads) between the PC and your worktable. Wear an antistatic bracelet, and connect it to a metal part of the PC chassis.


Open the PC case to clear out any grime. Many cases have side doors held in place by a single Phillips-head screw or thumbscrew; consult your manual for specific directions.

Pull out any loose clots of hair, dirt, or other obstructions. Then use a can of compressed air to blast anything else away and out of the PC. Keep the can upright, and press the trigger in a series of short bursts. Use the nozzle straw to direct the flow close to your target.


Blow grime up and out of the case if possible, but focus your attention on clearing clogs at vented areas. Blast through grating, and blow from inside the PC, out through the power supply's fan, until you no longer see any dirt being cleared away.


While you're inside, make sure that internal cables are clear of vents. Use cable ties to fix them to the sides. Reclose the case, and reconnect everything.

To slow future dirt accumulation, try to keep your PC off the floor, since that's where much of the grime originates. Repeat this cleaning process annually, especially if you have pets.

NEXT PAGE: Clean your dirty camera

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera


PC won't boot? Dead battery in your iPod? Water in your mobile phone? Don't scrap your broken tech. Fix it yourself with our step-by-step repair guide.

Clean your dirty camera

Point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras have a knack for attracting dirt, and that grime can show up in pictures. Sand and moisture at the beach can render a good camera unusable. Here's how to clean it up.

Wipe down the body and the LCD screen, if they are dirty, with a soft cloth. If needed, apply a mild alcohol-based cleaner to the cloth. Be careful as you work around buttons and openings not to let liquid get inside.

Pay special attention to cleaning a dirty lens. Puff away loose, abrasive materials with an air bulb. Use a scratch-free cloth, a lens-cleaning solution, and a light touch to clean the outside glass. If you haven't yet, screw in a clear filter to protect DSLR lenses from scratches. Clean the inside of such lenses by first squeezing air and then lightly swabbing with a lens-specific cleaner.


Handle the sensor plate with care. The CMOS or CCD in the camera body can be blighted by dust particles. Point-and-shoots seal foreign matter out, but changing DSLR lenses invites dust. And be warned: Canon , Nikon and some other manufacturers don't support users cleaning their own hardware; if you scratch the sensor plate, you'll have to pay for the repair.

Mount the DSLR on a strong tripod, if possible. Then tilt the camera slightly downward prior to cleaning; the tripod will keep your hands free, and the downward angle will permit loose particles to fall off.


Within the DSLR's menu system, enter the mirror-lock cleaning mode to lift the mirror away from the sensor. Use a battery with a strong charge; if the camera loses power in this process, the mirror will snap closed, causing damage if you're swabbing.

Use an air bulb to clear the image sensor. Compressed air is too powerful for this job. Position the nozzle about an inch away from the sensor. Squeeze the bulb in short blasts. Squeeze an air bulb on the lens, holding it about 1in away.

Perform deeper cleaning with a swab and a solution made specifically for your camera. Unwrap a disposable swab, and add a drop or two of solution to it. Gently but firmly drag the wand horizontally across the sensor in a single sweep. Twist the wand over to its unused side, and gently swipe back in the opposite direction.

Take a test photo. Magnifiers and other tools can help you get a closer look at the results of your cleaning efforts, but snapping a photo works best.

Attach a lens to the DSLR, and shoot a picture of a blank background-for example, a piece of paper-with as small an aperture as possible. (Set the camera for aperture-priority, and expose the photo normally.) On your PC, zoom in on the picture, and look for splotches or droplets. If you see any, repeat the cleaning steps.

Avoid exposing your camera to sudden changes in temperature. A quick transition from, say, cold outdoor weather to a warm house can cause condensation. Seal the camera in an airtight bag or two, and leave it alone indoors until it gets acclimated.

Deal with condensation promptly. Remove all possible parts - battery, memory card, lens - and leave camera doors open. Let the condensation evaporate overnight on its own.


See also:
50 low-cost upgrades to recharge your PC

  1. We show you how to repair your favourite tech
  2. Revive a stuck LCD pixel
  3. Dry a submerged phone
  4. Clean a spill on a laptop
  5. Reseat loose components
  6. Remove a mini-CD from a slot-loading drive
  7. Clean a dusty PC
  8. Clean your dirty camera