Key Takeaways

  • Water damage can severely impair the functionality of PCBs, causing corrosion, short circuits, and other issues.
  • The extent of water damage depends on the type of water, the duration of exposure, and the PCB’s design and construction.
  • Waterproofing and conformal coatings can help protect PCBs from water damage, but they are not foolproof.
  • If a PCB is exposed to water, it is important to act quickly to minimize damage.


PCBs (printed circuit boards) are essential components of electronic devices, providing the physical structure and electrical connections necessary for the devices to function. However, PCBs are susceptible to damage from various factors, including water. Water damage can cause a range of issues, from minor corrosion to complete failure of the PCB.

Types of Water Damage

The type of water that damages a PCB can have a significant impact on the severity of the damage.

  • Fresh water: Fresh water is less conductive than saltwater, so it is less likely to cause short circuits. However, it can still cause corrosion and other problems over time.
  • Saltwater: Saltwater is highly conductive, so it can easily cause short circuits. It is also corrosive, so it can quickly damage the metal traces on a PCB.
  • Other liquids: Other liquids, such as oils and solvents, can also damage PCBs. These liquids can dissolve the protective coatings on PCBs, making them more susceptible to corrosion.

Duration of Exposure

The duration of exposure to water also affects the severity of the damage. Short-term exposure may only cause minor corrosion, while long-term exposure can lead to complete failure of the PCB.

PCB Design and Construction

The design and construction of a PCB can also affect its susceptibility to water damage. PCBs with conformal coatings or other protective measures are more resistant to water damage than PCBs without these features.

Preventing Water Damage

There are several steps you can take to prevent water damage to PCBs:

  • Use waterproof materials: When designing a PCB, choose materials that are resistant to water damage.
  • Apply conformal coatings: Conformal coatings are protective layers that can be applied to PCBs to protect them from moisture and other environmental hazards.
  • Encapsulate PCBs: Encapsulating PCBs in a protective housing can help to keep them dry and free from damage.

Recovering from Water Damage

If a PCB is exposed to water, it is important to act quickly to minimize the damage.

  • Remove the PCB from the water: The first step is to remove the PCB from the water source. If the PCB is still connected to a power source, be sure to turn off the power before removing it.
  • Rinse the PCB with fresh water: Once the PCB is removed from the water, rinse it with fresh water to remove any remaining water or contaminants.
  • Dry the PCB: The next step is to dry the PCB thoroughly. You can do this by placing it in a warm, dry place or using a hair dryer on a low setting.
  • Inspect the PCB for damage: Once the PCB is dry, inspect it carefully for any signs of damage. If you find any damage, you may need to repair or replace the PCB.


Water damage can be a serious problem for PCBs. However, by taking the proper precautions, you can help to prevent water damage and ensure that your PCBs remain in good working order.

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