How to clean a circuit board of corrosion?

corroded circuit board

Pcb corrosion is one of the most common phenomena that we observe in our daily lives. The formation of this layer is caused by a chemical process called rusting, which is a form of PCB corrosion. And corrosion on the circuit board is detrimental for device performance and may cause the device to get damaged permanently.

Read on for your complete guide to how to clean a circuit board of corrosion. You can find all of the important related details as well as steps and tools needed for cleaning corrosion.

Reasons for circuit board contamination and getting dirty

Even though multilayer PCB or printed circuit boards are installed inside different electronics and appliances, they can still get contaminated and dirty. And if you are wondering about how this is caused, then the reasons for the same are quite simple. The primary reason why a circuit board may get contaminated or get dirty is that all devices have gaps and let air inside which also carries dirt, debris, and other contaminants. It can include both wet and dry contaminants which can corrode your circuit board over a long time.

Safety & Prevention with Circuit Boards

When handling a circuit board, you need to be careful with it so that you don’t cause any more damage in the process of cleaning it. Some best tips to follow are:

1. Fully disconnect a device from its power source before removing it.
2. Keep your clothes dry
3. Avoid any water while cleaning
4. Wear gloves and goggles if using alcohol to clean

What are the 5 effective methods to remove the PCB corrosion?

There are two ways to clean a corroded circuit board: Using a solution mixed with alcohol, baking soda, and water. The other is using a special circuit board cleaning spray.

1. Always remove the device’s batteries and power source first. This will not only prevent short-circuiting but will prevent you from being injured. Please note that you may be exposing other elements of the device to possible corrosion, so do this carefully.

2. Corrosion can be found if you see a white or greenish substance that looks and feels “crusty”. Common places to look include charging ports, battery connectors, SIM card connectors, and any mechanisms that allow you to connect wired accessories to the device.

3. Use cotton swabs or Q-Tips. Also use isopropyl alcohol, baking soda and water to clean corrosion. You can also use vinegar. Gently apply the mixed solution to the affected area and wipe back and forth until the corrosion is gone. You can even apply the solution on the corroded area and let it sit for an extended period of time before wiping it off.

4. To dry the device, use a hairdryer on the cool setting or a soft cloth. You should never use heat as a way to dry off a device. Before replacing batteries or turning the device on, make sure the circuit board is completely dry.

5. Replace damaged batteries with a new one. Recycle the old batteries properly. Do not dispose them along with any general trash as it may cause damage to the environment.

What are the tools to process to remove the PCB corrosion?

Tools for PCB Corrosion Removal

Baking Soda

Baking Soda to clean circuit board corrosion. The alkaline and abrasive properties of baking soda make it the perfect cleaner for corroding PCBs. It is a common reagent for cleaning up the corrosion on circuit boards. It will remove and neutralize any corroded areas without causing damage.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is an excellent circuit cleaner tool because it is cheap and evaporates quickly. Besides, the drink contains fewer chemicals, unlike other PCB cleaners. Highly concentrated isopropyl alcohol (above 90%) can damage your skin; hence, always wear gloves when handling it.

Deionized Water

Deionized Water to clean corroded circuit board. When you use water to clean your PCB corrosion, you must make sure it is free of contaminants. The ions in ordinary water have conductive properties that can degrade the performance of electronics. Meanwhile, deionized water has no impurities or ions that can cause damage.

Soft bristle brushes

Soft bristle brushes to clean circuit board corrosion. If you don’t have a special PCB cleaning tool, you can use a toothbrush or paintbrush. Brushes with soft bristles will not scratch the delicate parts of the board.

Oven

Oven to clean corrosion off circuit board. A simple home oven will thoroughly dry PCBs when you use indirect heat. But never put a board in the oven without first making sure the stove is turned off.

Steps to clean corrosion from circuit boards

After you have arranged all the required cleaning agents and tools for working on your circuit board, you can go ahead and follow the given steps to clean corrosion from circuit boards:

● You have to first open up a given electrical device or appliance and remote its circuit board by disconnecting all connections and power sources.
● Make sure that you are referring to the right manual for the same while working with the right set of tools.
● After removing the circuit board, use a cleaning solution like isopropyl alcohol or baking soda solution.
● Now, use a soft brush to apply it on your circuit board and leave it applied until the rust and dust become soft.
● You can then remove the grime using a brush and further use distilled water to remove the rest of the dust and corrosion.
●  If there is still hard corrosion left on the circuit board, you can further apply more isopropyl alcohol since it is a stronger agent.
●  Finally, clean with a microfiber rug and dry your circuit board using an air dryer before installing it back inside your electrical device with all its corrosion removed.

How to prevent a circuit board from corroding?

The surprising twist is that at some point, corrosion will occur on a circuit board based on the natural cause of time. But you can delay the inevitable. How can you do that? Make sure that the circuit board or your electronics are not exposed to any ionic contamination. In other words, be sure that your computer or device is stored in a dry environment. If the environment has any kind of moisture, it can hasten the corrosion of your circuit board.

Conclusion

So, this was our detailed guidelae on how to clean a circuit board of corrosion. Carrying out regular maintenance practices on your board increases the efficiency and lifespan of your electronic products. While messy circuit boards can cause a lot of trouble for your devices, they’re thankfully easy to learn how to clean a circuit board on your own.

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