The Old wife’s tales that rule electronic water damage claims…

It would shock the average casual observer how much of a role old wife’s tales and uninformed perceptions play a major role in the outcomes of claims.
• It’s got wet, so it must be damaged and therefore replaced…
• It cannot test it because it will blow up everything else…
• But what about if something will happen in the future? and what about the warranty?

Old Wives Tale #1: It got wet, so it must be damaged and must be replaced.

This is a very common claim issue and argument from vendors to support replacement. As an independent specialist we are often in the surreal position of explaining to equipment suppliers their products are much better, robust and reliable than they are telling their client… In fact sometimes explaining to them their products are designed to operate in tropical conditions or have high ingress protection ratings.
Water or liquid on its own will not cause failure, in fact almost all electronic components are hermetically sealed and undergo a washing process as part of their production.

You can take a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqv3BblpxzY

While not the most exciting video, it gives a good overview of the production process and washing process that may boards go through.

Typically, when you have an external water ingress unfortunately it is not pure de-ionized (nonconductive) water, it will often be sprinkler water, or tap water which can contain scale, remnants of the pipes and accumulate other materials and contaminants after discharge, this is what will cause most of the problems.
Let’s briefly get into the critical issues which can influence reparability.

Conductivity
As the water is not de-ionized and combined with other contaminants it can act as a conductor bridging circuits. If the board is turned off when the water ingress occurred the presence of the water and contamination its self will not cause failure and can be addressed. If the board was energized when water ingress occurred this can be more problematic and will require further evaluation & testing.

Corrosion
Residues left over from water ingress can include minerals and elements which can react with electronic component legs and circuit paths to cause corrosion and potentially result in premature failure if not addressed. The good news is this can be addressed if quick action is taken and it is approached systematically and professionally.

Thermal insulation
Contamination such as cement dust and other nonconductive powders can act as an insulators and result in the overheating of components and prematurely impacting their life span if not addressed.
All of these issues can be evaluated and addressed, provided the equipment was not energized and did not incur any component damage.

Every claim is slightly different, but many of the issues are similar, therefore a systematic evidence-based approach should be taken, to cleaning, drying, testing and repair.

Old Wives Tale #2: It cannot test it because it will blow up everything else…
Usually the electronic boards and equipment are DC low voltage and provided they have been thoroughly dried and any conductive debris removed they will either work or they won’t with no impact on downstream components or equipment.
From our experience we have found it would be very unusual to have a daisy chain effect when energized and damage other components.
With higher voltage equipment it is necessary to first dry the equipment and as with the lower voltage ensure there is no conductive debris remaining before undertaking an energizing test

Old Wives Tale #3: But what about if something will happen in the future? and what about the warranty?
We often find ourselves in the position of explaining the insurance policy terms and conditions to the insured which in most cases deal with the here and now with future events not being covered under the policy. However if the warranty is for new equipment and in most cases the warranty will be withdrawn by the vendor it will be necessary to secure a source of replacement parts with possibly a burn in period offered then a warranty can be offered

However often the vendor will state that their policy is to change all “water effected components” which is when we must explain to the vendor that as this claim is not their policy they cannot determine the outcome for someone else’s insurance policy.

With reference to offering warranty this is often confused by the insured & vendors with the maintenance contract of the vendors. In these cases, it is necessary to view the actual contract to determine exactly what the warranty or maintenance contract offers and based upon this outcome a solution may be offered.