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eHam Forums => Misc => Topic started by: AA5VB on September 08, 2013, 09:39:15 AM



Title: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: AA5VB on September 08, 2013, 09:39:15 AM
Hello everyone -

A few days ago, the wind blew the roof off my Ham Shack, and resulting rain caused my worst fear to happen - ALL of my radio gear got soaked!  Some is modern, some not so much, and all is ruined!  The only thing I have going for me at this point is 1) Everything is insured and 2) Nothing was plugged in to either an antenna or a power source.

I'm guessing even when completely dry, there will still be conductive residue that could send current where it doesn't belong, causing havoc with microprocessor-controlled circuits.

Have you ever heard of someone successfully drying out radio equipment?  I'm thinking perhaps my only chance at success would be a careful disassembly and washing with distiller water. I've thought about using rubbing alcohol but I'm not sure the plastic would like that too much. Obviously an extended drying time would be mandatory.

In a worst-case scenario, the gear is ruined anyway, right?

Your thoughts / suggestions please?


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: W5FYI on September 08, 2013, 10:09:12 AM
You're right, washing the equipment with distilled water is first and foremost. Make sure all power and batteries are removed, and don't add alcohol to the wash--it won't be needed. Distilled water should wash away any conductive minerals, and it should be allowed to dry for several days and inspected for water damage before replacing any memory cells or power.  (Water damage may appear as white calcite traces between p.c. board pads, especially around power or electrolytic capacitor connections). If you find calcite deposits, a fiberglass burnishing tool might be able to remove them, and a contact cleaner containing silicone oil may prevent further damage. GL


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: KK6GNP on September 08, 2013, 10:09:50 AM
For the drying part of your cleanup:  I know with some electronics you can put them inside of some kind of container with desiccants (I've seen rice used for wet cell phones), and that will go a long way to pull moisture out of the nooks and crannies faster than just air drying.  If it was me, I'd probably get a couple of those big tupperware storage containers, and seal my gear in there with some form of desiccants or another for a few days.  Rice is super cheap in bulk.

http://lifehacker.com/5435480/testimonial-rice-resurrects-even-the-most-soaked-of-gadgets

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-dry-out-and-hopefully-s-107945


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: KK0G on September 08, 2013, 12:02:18 PM
My suggestion? Let the insurance company write you a check, that's why we pay for insurance.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: WY4J on September 08, 2013, 12:38:11 PM
30 years ago I had a washing machine hose blow a leak in the garage and the spray was aimed directly to my ham station. For hours it rained water on all my gear. Everything, transceiver, amp, meters microphones, telephone, switches, Atari computer, everything.

First thing, I did not power up anything. I opened up all the equipment and laid it out on a blanket underneath a ceiling fan. I took a hair dryer and blew hot air into every nook and cranny I could get into. I then lowered the temperature on the a/c and let the equipment air out for about a month. I did not lose a single piece. In fact I still have some of the equipment in the shack and all is well.

The only thing I would do today which was not something people kept at home. I would first blow the equipment out with an air compressor and them use the hair dryer.

My two cents worth my my personal experience.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: KE4JOY on September 08, 2013, 01:51:11 PM
You will be supprised, as long as no power was applied (battery backup might be an issue) everything will dry out and probably be just fine.

I had an old heathkit depth finder that sat in a boat completely submerged in rain water with a little oil and gasoline for good measure for three days. I poured out the water, dried it off with a towel, and let it sit out in the sun for a day. It powered right up and worked fine.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: AA5VB on September 08, 2013, 05:27:23 PM
Thanks, everyone for the good advice!  I moved a Behringer 4-channel mixer from off of the desk, hoping it didn't get "too" wet. As I tilted it, out came quite a bit of brown, brackish water - so I'm not feeling very hopeful at this point.

One of the rigs is a Kenwood TS-430 that I aquired from a longtime Ham friend, who has since become a Silent Key. It's only worth about $150, but it's sentimental value is far greater to me, and I'd like to see it working again, in his memory.

I'm meeting the Adjuster tomorrow, so we will see how "wet" I get again :-(



Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: K8AXW on September 08, 2013, 06:54:25 PM
VB:  As one said, let the insurance company write you a check.  Now, about the adjuster.  My experience with an adjuster was great!  He suggested and pointed out things that I never considered and paid me for them.  As he pointed out, this is what a person pays insurance premiums for.

However, if you have a hardass, then argue with him.  Be just as hardassed as he is and then some.  You might have to do a lot of research for prices and current values though.  Aim high and let him haggle you down if necessary.  Not the other way around. 

Now as for salvaging the gear.  (It's possible the insurance company will take the gear after settling.  In this case, find out what it would cost to buy it back.....or at least the gear with the sentimental value. Quite often the insurance company will sell it back for a pittance.)

A friend got flooded out and we both worked for a month or more salvaging his ham gear.  He had quite an accumulation.  We simply washed it out with fresh water and let it dry for a very long time.  Since his was river water, there was a great deal of mud (sediment) in every nook, cranny and hole!  This included the meters.  Most of this stuff had to be stripped down and cleaned.  Be prepared for a lot of work but it can be done with patience. 

If the insurance company buys you replacement gear then I would advise letting it go with the exception of the gear that I absolutely wanted to keep.

Good luck.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: G3RZP on September 09, 2013, 07:46:02 AM
On one of W4BPD's DXpeditions, the KWM2A got submerged in sea water. He washed it out with fresh water and let it dry in the hot sun for 2 days. It worked OK after that.....


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: WN2C on September 09, 2013, 10:15:20 AM
Thanks, everyone for the good advice!  I moved a Behringer 4-channel mixer from off of the desk, hoping it didn't get "too" wet. As I tilted it, out came quite a bit of brown, brackish water - so I'm not feeling very hopeful at this point.

One of the rigs is a Kenwood TS-430 that I aquired from a longtime Ham friend, who has since become a Silent Key. It's only worth about $150, but it's sentimental value is far greater to me, and I'd like to see it working again, in his memory.

I'm meeting the Adjuster tomorrow, so we will see how "wet" I get again :-(



If the adjuster is going to prorate your equipment because it is older than 1 year and you have replacement value coverage, then tell him you want it all repaced. Some insurance companies will order the equipment and have it shipped directly to you. Don't make the mistake I did and not tell him what it is you want fully replaced and take the prorated amount and have to go buy it yourself and then have to send the ins.co. a copy of the receipt for the difference. Oh and don't forget, if you have a beam on the tower, make sure that you are able to get the wiring from the rotor to the control box is included, if you can't get up the tower yourself.  If you can't find or read the your documentation for the color coding of the wiring diagram from the rotor to the control box, how are you going to know which wire goes where? ( I hope I explained that right and you understand what I mean)

Good luck with the adjuster!!
Rick  WN2C


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: G3RZP on September 09, 2013, 01:18:17 PM
Don't forget the coax too......if the end got opened to the weather, it needs replacing.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: WI8P on September 09, 2013, 02:45:19 PM
My suggestion? Let the insurance company write you a check, that's why we pay for insurance.

Let me make sure I understand this: he can spend a couple hours and $10 for distilled water and have everything up and running in a day, or argue with the insurance company, and wait God knows how long for replacement equipment, which he'll have to procure, assuming it's available.

I'm pretty sure what my choice would be.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: KK0G on September 09, 2013, 05:57:36 PM
My suggestion? Let the insurance company write you a check, that's why we pay for insurance.

Let me make sure I understand this: he can spend a couple hours and $10 for distilled water and have everything up and running in a day, or argue with the insurance company, and wait God knows how long for replacement equipment, which he'll have to procure, assuming it's available.

I'm pretty sure what my choice would be.

I think your estimate of a couple of hours is WAY low as is the estimate of up and running in a day. In addition if he gets everything cleaned well enough to work now what about a year down the road, or two years or three when corrosion finally sets in and intermittent problems start rearing their ugly head. That's a pretty big gamble to make on what could potentially be thousands of dollars worth of equipment. I went through almost the same experience when I had a water line freeze and burst in the ceiling above my shack about 7 years ago. I have full replacement value on my policy and the insurance company never hesitated to write me a check to replace every single item. So yes, this is exactly why we pay for insurance. My advice still stands............ make a claim.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: G3RZP on September 10, 2013, 01:05:26 AM
If you don't make a claim, what was the point of having the insurance in the first place?


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: W8JX on September 10, 2013, 06:33:46 AM
You're right, washing the equipment with distilled water is first and foremost. Make sure all power and batteries are removed, and don't add alcohol to the wash--it won't be needed. Distilled water should wash away any conductive minerals, and it should be allowed to dry for several days and inspected for water damage before replacing any memory cells or power.  (Water damage may appear as white calcite traces between p.c. board pads, especially around power or electrolytic capacitor connections). If you find calcite deposits, a fiberglass burnishing tool might be able to remove them, and a contact cleaner containing silicone oil may prevent further damage. GL

I would add 20 % or so alcohol to rinse as it will help it dry.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: WI8P on September 10, 2013, 08:15:39 AM
My suggestion? Let the insurance company write you a check, that's why we pay for insurance.

Let me make sure I understand this: he can spend a couple hours and $10 for distilled water and have everything up and running in a day, or argue with the insurance company, and wait God knows how long for replacement equipment, which he'll have to procure, assuming it's available.

I'm pretty sure what my choice would be.



I think your estimate of a couple of hours is WAY low as is the estimate of up and running in a day. In addition if he gets everything cleaned well enough to work now what about a year down the road, or two years or three when corrosion finally sets in and intermittent problems start rearing their ugly head. That's a pretty big gamble to make on what could potentially be thousands of dollars worth of equipment. I went through almost the same experience when I had a water line freeze and burst in the ceiling above my shack about 7 years ago. I have full replacement value on my policy and the insurance company never hesitated to write me a check to replace every single item. So yes, this is exactly why we pay for insurance. My advice still stands............ make a claim.

I know it's not the same technically, but I've done computer equipment, and my estimate is accurate.  Fill a large clean  container with the distilled water and use it to submerse the equipment (with any cases/covers removed.  Afterwards, fans or hairdryers set on low heat speed the drying process.  As W8JX stated, adding alcohol can speed the drying process.  If you have never done it, then you probably shouldn't comment. 


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: KF7ITG on September 10, 2013, 04:38:07 PM
I'm not advocating anything here. This is just a statement. I live in Arizona and have several Jeeps that are equipped with CB radios with cooling fans and external water proof speakers. After several months of 4 wheeling the fans have packed the radios with dirt. One of the radios is 6 years old. On average I clean the radios out three times a year ..... With the hose. I don't dismount them, I unplug the power supply, wash out the radio until clear water runs out, let it dry out several days, plug it back in and it continues to work fine. Of course, they are $80 radios so I'm not concerned if water does destroy them. They also are not protected from the rain storms.

I'm just saying water doesn't always destroy radio equipment.

KF7ITG
James


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: W6EM on September 10, 2013, 06:39:20 PM
Many years ago, as a radio tech for a county agency, I was given a project.....  A park ranger had left his pickup in neutral and forgot to set the emergency brake.  Next thing he knew, it was submerging itself and Motorola Motrac (turned on) into 20 meet of water at the bottom of a lake.

My project was, take the brown water soaked Motrac drawer and clean it off and dry it out.  At the time, we had an air-hose syphon wash tool, and it was suggested I use a chlorinated solvent.  For two reasons: no water, and would clean the muck off from the pc boards and evaporate more quickly.  The Motrac was a hybrid radio, with transistors and tubes.

I cleaned it thoroughly and used compressed air via a blow gun to assist in the drying.  I remember waiting a couple of days after I did that to fire it up, but, to everyone's amazement, it worked fine.  Even the HV inverter for the tubes in the transmitter.

I doubt that you could get any chlorinated solvents today, but you could probably get some anhydrous methyl alcohol, aka methanol, from you local hardware store.  Alcohol won't bother lacquer paints or plastics and has a super affinity for water, so it will literally "suck up" any remaining water and moisture and help to evaporate it quickly.  It might bother rubber gaskets, grommets and feet, though, if you were to leave them soaking in it.

Good luck.

73,

Lee

 


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: G3RZP on September 11, 2013, 03:19:06 AM
I wonder if an attempt to clean the radio might lead, in the event it was unsuccessful, to the insurance company refusing to pay up on the basis that the radio could have been damaged by the attempted 'repair'?

Not that I feel insurance companies will use any possible excuse to weasel out of paying up on a claim......


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: WD3N on September 11, 2013, 05:58:03 AM
 Back in the old days ,after going through the wave solder machine ,new boards went through a wash to clean off flux and debris .last step was blow dry .
 See what insurance adjuster says first,then plan .


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: W6EM on September 11, 2013, 09:15:17 AM
I wonder if an attempt to clean the radio might lead, in the event it was unsuccessful, to the insurance company refusing to pay up on the basis that the radio could have been damaged by the attempted 'repair'?

Not that I feel insurance companies will use any possible excuse to weasel out of paying up on a claim......
Perhaps worthy of note.  Here's a suggestion to go along with this.  Of course, courteously show the adjuster the damage to the equipment.  Then, mention to him that you have heard from a former Forensic Engineer (me) about a way to use alcohol and dry air to clean up the equipment.  If he doesn't agree to the idea of an alcohol wash, without a caveat that should it fail to restore the equipment, he will still provide full coverage, tell him you want this:  For his carrier to retain a Forensic Electrical Engineer to come out and inspect the equipment on behalf of his company; perform the cleaning and restoration for you; and if you're not satisfied, pay you in full for your loss.


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: AA5VB on September 11, 2013, 05:10:30 PM
I have filed a claim, and the Adjuster has visited, so now I wait. I've been down this road twice before with another insurer due to lightning damage (could have something to do with the Rohn 25 lightning rod in my back yard) - and it wasn't fun then either. Not sure how Liberty Mutual will handle the claim, but having to deal with State Farm's Replacement Coverage in 2005 and 2007 was intensely frustrating. SF takes your equpment values, then depreciates most of them by 60 percent before cutting a check. They WILL NOT order new equipment for you, and they expect the policyholder to make them a short-term no-interest loan for the difference between what they pay you and what the new item costs!  Amazingly, our State Insurance Board goes right along with it. I think many people just give up at some point in the process and pocket the money - and the insurer knows that. 

I'll try to keep the group updated on my progress!


Title: RE: Drying out radio equipment
Post by: WB6DGN on September 15, 2013, 04:15:09 AM
Quote
Then, mention to him that you have heard from a former Forensic Engineer (me) about a way to use alcohol and dry air to clean up the equipment.

If I dropped one of my prized radios in the water, especially the toilet, that's not how I would use the alcohol to deal with the problem!  But, then again, my way wouldn't do much to get the radio cleaned up, either!

Tom