FARMINGTON HILLS (WWJ) — If you ever drop your phone in the water, don’t reach for the rice.

ServPro of Farmington and Farmington Hills, a franchisee of the Texas-based fire and water damage restoration company, has added a device called the DryBox that can dry out and rescue most drowned phones in half an hour.

“We charge $10 for an attempt, $40 if it’s successful,” said Laurie Rea, manager of the Farmington Hills location, on Eight Mile Road near Orchard Lake Road.

DryBox uses a combination of heat (135 degrees Fahrenheit, pretty hot, but not hot enough to fry electronics), vacuum, bright light and centrifugal force from spinning to dry the phone’s innards. DryBox — one of the co-founders happens to be Rea’s cousin — claims an 80 percent success rate for recovering waterlogged handsets.

Rea said the decision to invest in a DryBox was an easy one for the ServPro franchise: “We’re in the dry-out business, so why not dry out phones? We thought it would be a great opportunity for us.”

The key to rescuing a drowned phone, Rea said, is to not do a thing with it after it’s been soaked — for heaven’t sake, don’t try to turn it back on — and to get it into a dryer as quickly as possible.

“We did have one that would not work,” Rea said of their early results with DryBox. “The key to saving the phone is not powering it on after you drop it in water.”

And if you have a phone with a removable battery, remove it — batteries swell up when they get wet, which can also damage the phone.

And if you use DryBox, be sure to bring your charger.

Tuesday, I stood by as Rea dropped an office iPhone into a big glass of water. The lights quickly went out on the phone. After half an hour in the DryBox, it turned back on, and though it still seemed a little wonky, it was working.

Oh, and by the way, putting the phone in rice? Doesn’t do a thing to dry out the inside of the phone, and some experts say the starch in the rice speeds up corrosion.

DryBox CEO Dean Chouinard said his company has been working on the technology for a couple of years and and rolled out the current version at the 2013 CTIA mobile phone trade show. The company is based in San Antonio, Texas, and has 15 units installed nationwide. More about the company at

For more information on the local DryBox at ServPro of Farmington and Farmington Hills, call (248) 427-1500.


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