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Can you salvage a water-damaged Steam Deck?

One of the main advantages of the Steam Deck is that you can take it everywhere, like the bathtub. Unfortunately, that also means there´s a non-insignificant chance that you can drop it somewhere inconvenient, like the bathtub.

If the Deck gets soaked, does that mean that it is a goner? Probably yes, but there is a chance it will work.

How severe is the water damage to the Steam Deck?

Front Facing Steam Deck with Control game open

Was the Steam Deck fully submerged in water? If so:

Was the Steam Deck on? Water and circuits seldom mix well, especially if they have an electric current flowing through them. If the Steam Deck was on while it was dropped on the water, there is a high chance that something short-circuited inside, and there´s no fixing a fried circuit.

Of course, that assumes water got inside. If the Deck was only submerged for a second or so, you might have gotten lucky. The water might not have entered the console itself. In any case, DO NOT ATTEMPT to turn the console on immediately after the event.

Was the console off? Are you sure it was off and not in sleep mode? If it was sleeping, then the console was still on, electricity still flowing across the circuits. If it was truly off, then the Deck has a much higher chance of surviving.

Was the Steam Deck only partially covered in water?

If the Steam Deck was only hit by drops of water on one side, then it´s much more likely that it won´t have permanent damage. The water probably didn't enter the circuits inside the console, and therefore didn´t have the opportunity to cause any serious problems.

Of course, if the part that got wet was the ventilation vents at the sides or back of the deck, then there is a higher likelihood that water seeped in and damaged the circuitry.

How to try and fix water damage from a Steam Deck.

A tool box with red screwdrivers resting on a table
Might be time to open the old toolbox

How does water damage a console or any electronic device? Mainly, in two ways. The first and most direct way is a short circuit. Water+electricity=fried circuits. If something short-circuited inside your Deck before you could pull it out of the water, then the only way to fix that part is to replace it.

However, water has another way of damaging electronics. Corrosion. Even if nothing is short-circuited, the water that remains inside your Steam Deck evaporates, leaving behind minerals and other imperfections that don´t play nice with the delicate electronic components inside the Deck.

In any case, the first step to try and salvage your Steam Deck is to make sure it is off. Don´t turn the Deck on, and don´t attempt to charge it yet.

Now, onto the actual fixing. To ensure the water causes no problems in the future, the console should be disassembled and cleaned. Here´s an example from Reddit on how to do it.

Were you able to follow along? Do you think you could do something like that as well? If so, you can follow iFixit's step-by-step guide on how to disassemble your Deck, starting with the battery.

Once you pry open your Steam Deck, you must clean the parts with Isopropyl Alcohol 99% (do not use run-of-the-mill rubbing alcohol) to remove all traces of water and any impurities they might have left behind. If you spot any dirt or junk inside the console´s case, you might want to use a clean toothbrush or similar instrument to wipe it away.

Then, wait for the parts to dry and then connect them all again. If you find that a part of the Steam Deck is burned, the good news is that Valve made its console pretty modular. You can hop into Amazon and buy a replacement part.

If you don´t know from what end to hold a screwdriver or if the whole process seems too daunting, then your best bet would be to contact Valve to see if you can take the Steam Deck to their nearest repair center. Repairing a console isn´t easy, so it´s best to leave it to the professionals if you don´t think you can do it well enough.

In the meantime, keep your Deck off and in a place with good ventilation. You might have heard that putting water-damaged electronics in a bag of rice can help fix them. After all, rice is good at absorbing water, so it should also work at absorbing moisture and helping the console dry off, right?

Not really. As we said in the article about repairing a water-damaged Nintendo Switch, this is pretty much an urban legend. If your console works after two days of waiting inside a bag of rice, chances are it would work just as well if you had left it next to your window or in a bag of potatoes.

A bunch of rice.
Rice is not the magical cure it’s hyped up to be.

But, it´s not like it hurts the console anyway, so if it gives a bit of mental peace, you can leave your Deck inside a rice bag while you wait for the technician. Even if the console magically starts working again after two days of waiting, it is recommended that you still take it to get repaired, as the aforementioned corrosion can end up ruining it in the future.

And that´s it. Hopefully, this article will be helpful to you. If all else fails, you might not have a choice but to buy another Steam Deck. Want to know if you can connect gamepads and keyboards to your Steam Deck? Check out our article here!


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