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Cleaning Tips for Repairing Electronics and Recovering Data

6/8/2018 (Permalink)

Cleaning Tips for Repairing Electronics and Recovering Data

Electronics are often a top area of concern for homeowners or business owners whose premises have been damaged by fire or flood. From laptop and desktop computers to tablets and smartphones, all the way to high-end entertainment equipment like televisions and stereos, electronic devices are often extremely expensive to replace. To make matters worse, many electronic devices—particularly computers and smartphones—are loaded with data that may or may not be backed up anywhere else.

If you are hoping to recover data from electronics that have been damaged by water or fire, or if you are hoping to salvage and use your devices in the future, then your first step may be a thorough cleaning. Read on to learn more about cleaning tips for water and fire-damaged electronics.

Consider the Degree of Damage

After a fire or flood, electronic devices will generally fall into a few specific categories relating to how salvageable they are. With a fire, it’s fairly easy to tell whether or not your electronics have a chance just by looking at them. A laptop or TV that’s been touched by flames and has visible burn marks has likely been cooked and will be tough to save. Electronics that are merely blackened with soot, however, might have a chance.

With water damage, it’s a lot more difficult to tell whether it’s worth trying to repair your electronics or recover your data. Water damage usually isn’t as fast-acting as fire, nor does it leave such visibly evident scars. Still, water can degrade a hard drive or motherboard more rapidly than you might think, so the number one rule is always to act fast if you want to try to save your stuff.

Electronics that have been submerged in water is increasingly difficult to repair, depending on how long the device in question spent underwater. Electronics that were on at the time of the flood are especially problematic, as they would likely have shorted out upon contact with water.

Devices that you were able to fish out of the water quickly, on the other hand, or that just got splashed or dripped on but never completely submerged, might be able to be salvaged with drying and cleaning. It’s also a good idea to take a closer look at any devices that were located in a flooded room. Many home and business owners assume that devices that didn’t come in contact with any water are fine. However, computers situated in rooms where flooding occurred can often be negatively affected by humidity. It’s a good idea to have these devices looked at and cleaned to make sure they continue to perform optimally.

After a Flood, Keep Your Electronics Wet

Especially if your devices have been submerged in floodwater, you’d do better to keep them wet than try drying them off. Floodwater isn’t just water: it’s full of dirt, sand, sediment, and other minerals. If you try to dry off your electronics now, you might end up making the hard drives and other internal components more difficult to clean. You can towel off the outside of your laptop or phone: just don’t try to dry them with a hairdryer or heater. Otherwise, those foreign particles from the floodwater are going to dry as well, and more or less become one with your device’s interior components.

Call for Help ASAP

Unless you are an electronics expert in your own right, you shouldn’t try to clean your flood or fire-damaged electronics yourself. Instead, call a professional for help. An experienced technician or team will know how to meticulously and safely clean your computer hard drives and other devices. This close and careful cleaning work will give you a better chance of recovering your data or even being able to use your damaged devices again in the future.

Have Questions about Electronic Restoration?


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(213) 263-2292

Critical Elements for Electronic Restoration

6/8/2018 (Permalink)

Critical Elements for Electronic Restoration

Electronic restoration is becoming increasingly viable as a method of getting information back from servers and devices that have suffered physical damage. The most common incidents that cause people to consider electronic restoration are fires and floods, which often leave sensitive electronic equipment in terrible shape. However, despite the apparent severity of the damage, it’s often entirely possible to pull data from a machine that has sustained damage in one of these incidents. In some cases, it may even be possible to get the entire machine to work again. However, electronic restoration isn’t a magic wand or a cure-all. There are situations in which it won’t work, so it’s crucial to understand electronic restoration before you assume that you’ll be able to rely on it in the event of an emergency. Here are a couple of things to consider:

What can electronic restoration do?

Electronic restoration is excellent at treating certain kinds of damage and somewhat less effective at treating others. The good news is that in many cases, electronic restoration works wonders on computers and equipment for medical, manufacturing, or telecommunications purposes. Even in circumstances where a piece of equipment has been totally immersed in flood waters or exposed to smoke, corrosive vapors, and extremely high temperatures, electronic restoration can be shockingly effective. The trick is often to remove deposits of foreign materials, and other effects of corrosion. If successful, it’s possible to save the time and money it would take to replace the equipment entirely.

The standard criteria for electronic restoration is as follows: it must be possible to remove the contaminants from all surfaces of the device in question, and this removal must be reproducible rather than dependent on luck. Furthermore, the cleaning must refrain from causing any damage to the device apart from the cosmetic variety, and the process must be either more cost-effective than replacing the device outright or considerably more convenient than waiting for the time it will take to procure the replacement. If you can check those boxes off your list, electronic restoration is a good idea. Here’s a brief description of how it works:

Procedures

The first thing that should be taken care of before successful electronic restoration is the immediate removal of the damaged device from all power sources and the cessation of its use. Following that, the person conducting the restoration process will perform a chemical analysis of the types of any contaminants affecting the machine and their various concentrations. Various protocols, procedures, and chemicals may then be used, depending on the offending substance.

In the case of fire damage, for instance, hydrochloric acid is a common problem—and it can be worse when coupled with the water discharged by a sprinkler system or a hose. To minimize the effects of corrosion, it’s possible to apply a protective lubricant to the damaged components. To limit the chance of further corrosion, it’s best to remove water the room and lower the relative humidity to below 40%. These conditions will prevent a faster chemical reaction between the hydrochloride and the metal from which the affected device is made, buying the technicians much needed time.

Next, the equipment is disassembled, and each component cleaned. Highly trained electronics professionals are used for this step since this part is the most detail oriented and requires considerable knowledge of how to clean each part. Optical and chemical quality testing follows, after which the device is reassembled, adjusted, and returned to service.

Success and Reliability

When restored in this manner, it’s quite common for the damaged electronics to function properly once again, and the data housed inside is frequently intact. 60-70% of electronics treated this way function again without incident, and do not require further repairs. Even over long periods of time, their performance tends to remain at least equal to the way it was before being damaged—and can even improve in some cases. Of course, every damaged unit should be inspected thoroughly to see if it meets restoration criteria, but if it does, then this is an excellent method to restore data and services.

Have Questions about Electronic Restoration?


Call Us Today – 
(213) 263-2292

The Two Principal Goals of Electronic Restoration

6/8/2018 (Permalink)

The Two Principal Goals of Electronic Restoration

When a homeowner or business suffers a disastrous property loss such as a fire, flood, or storm damage, the financial and emotional toll can be devastating. The family may be out of their home for an extended period and may have lost everything including keepsakes and family heirlooms that they cannot replace. A catastrophic business loss may put many people out of work, work on critical projects may be destroyed, and clients may just take their business elsewhere due to time pressures.

Salvaging some of the electronic equipment may ease some of the loss, both financially and emotionally. There are two significant goals to electronic restoration. Data recovery (also known as content restoration), and equipment restoration. These two critical goals are often intertwined, but the accomplishment of each task is not necessarily interdependent.

The goal of most homeowners who have suffered a loss is often the recovery of the digital memories, key documents, photos and videos. Most of us do not give much thought to these items until a loss occurs. Imagine that you suffered a devastating house fire. Your family all got out safely, but your home is now a smoking soggy pile of tinder. Your children’s baby pictures, graduation photos, etc. were in frames all around the home. You felt safe because they were all scanned or downloaded onto your home computer or laptop as a backup. Since the originals were physically destroyed in the fire, your only hope to retrieve them is from your computer. Unfortunately, that is now covered in smoky residue and is soaking wet.

The same may be true of your videos. Your child’s first steps, treasured ballet recitals and Christmas morning videos with astonished toddlers who are now all grown up now exist only on your trusty laptop. You were able to find your laptop after the blaze, but the case and screen are both cracked. You then remember that your grandparents’ original naturalization papers and scanned copies of your father’s distinguished military documents were also on the hard drive.

You had intended to share these items with other family members but just didn’t seem to find the time. Now, they are lost forever.

There is one resource that might be your best chance to recover these items from those damaged hard drives. After a significant loss from a flood, fire or storm, many insurance carriers bring in a service to help clean up the mess, dry or replace carpets, prevent the growth of mold and help you rebuild or restore your home or business. These companies are experienced and excellent at handling these situations. The best companies also have Electronic Restoration specialists to assist them in saving your equipment and mining the critical data from your devices. While repairing the equipment may be technically possible, it does not always make economic sense for outdated equipment. You should also note that it is often possible to retrieve data from the hard drive of a computer without ever making the device operational.

For electronic restoration to be successful, certain steps must be followed:

  • You must act quickly. The longer the equipment sits, the more difficult and less chance exists for success. Equipment that is subject to smoke or water will begin to dry out, and the circuit boards may start to rust or short out from the material that accumulated on those boards. As hard drives continue to be subject to exposure to water, dust from fire extinguishers and the elements, there is a greater chance the data contained therein will be inaccessible.
  • Determine what type of contamination occurred, whether water, chemical, smoke, fire extinguisher, etc.
  • Decide how to restore the item, determine what methods and procedures are most likely to be successful.
  • To the extent necessary and feasible, disassemble and clean the components.
  • Examine and test the components.
  • Reassemble the unit.
  • Retest the entire component to make sure it is in good working order and then put back into service.

On many occasions, it’s possible to save business or computer equipment by cleaning or replacing a few key components on the circuit boards. Complete recovery of electronic equipment is not always possible, but even a partial success can save lots of time and money for businesses with specialized equipment that is not only expensive but would take a significant amount of time to manufacture as it was custom made for the company.

If you suffer one of these horrific losses, make sure that you discuss the use of an electronic restoration company with your insurance carrier immediately. If you are a restoration contractor working for an insurance company, contact our Content Restoration Service Division to determine if some of the electronic equipment on your next job can be restored.

Have Questions about Electronic Restoration?


Call Us Today – 
(213) 263-2292