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What to Do & How To Fix Your Drone That Fell in Water?

By: Richard J. Gross
Updated On: November 12, 2023

There are few things more heart-stopping for a drone pilot than when their precious flying machine takes a dip—but navigating the choppy waters of what to do next when your “Drone That Fell in Water” can be just as dangerous. Let me lay out some calm, clear advice for you that may be the life ring you need.

Accidents happen – even to the most experienced pilots among us – and drones sometimes decide they fancy taking an impromptu swim. Perhaps you’ve misjudged a daring aerial maneuver or fallen foul to an unexpected gust of wind driving your drone into that river, lake, or even pool! It’s crucial you know how to respond and salvage what’s left before it’s too late.

Stick with me as we dive deep into this topic. We’ll explore everything from immediate action steps after the plunge, cleaning and drying your device, weighing up DIY versus professional repair services, plus some quick FAQs at the end. So grab that towel, folks; let’s rescue your drowned drone together!

Understanding the Danger of Water for Drones

Drones and water come up quite often in the same discussion, yet those discussions typically don’t end well. Understanding why drones shouldn’t mix with water and what to do if it happens is crucial for drone owners. Here’s why.

Drone That Fell in Water: Understanding the Danger of Water for Drones

The Perils of Flying Over Water

Flying your drone over bodies of water might offer you stunning aerial views and captivating footage, but it also carries enormous risks that you should be aware of.

  • Presence of Unpredictable Elements: Weather elements can change when surrounded by a body of water – anywhere from unexpected gusts of wind to sudden downpours or fog hazards. Such environmental factors contribute massively to the perils related to flying a drone over water.
  • Landing Emergencies: The scenario for an emergency landing becomes complicated when your device is hovering over water. There’s no solid ground to land on, translating into a probable plunge into the deep if things go south.
  • Uncontrolled Circumstance: Emergencies can occur without warning – maybe your drone disconnects from its controller, perhaps battery life dips more quickly than anticipated; possibilities are endless.

Impact Of Water Damage

Water can cause significant damage to drones and their sensitive onboard electronics.

  • Circuit Damage: When a powered electronic device comes in contact with water, it can lead to short circuits in various components, leading to immediate failure or unpredictable operation.
  • Rust And Corrosion: Drones falling into salty seawater could accelerate corrosion due to salt’s aggressive chemical composition, leading to permanent damage even after drying out completely.

Remember, being equipped with the right knowledge will make mishaps less daunting when they happen – because at some point or another, chances are they will!

Also Read: Effective Ways to Make Your Drone Quieter Today!

Immediate Response For Drone That Fell in Water

Seeing your precious drone plunge into the water can be a moment of sheer panic. Whether it’s a pool, a lake, or the ocean, here’s what you need to do immediately.

Initial Steps

  • Turn Off The Power: As soon as you recover your fallen drone from the water, your first step should be to turn off the power if it’s still on. This is crucial to reduce any further potential electronic damage.
  • Remove The Battery: Just like any other electronic device, separating the battery from the main frame will mitigate electrical shorts that could trigger irreparable harm.
  • Remove Memory Card and SIM: Safeguard your data by promptly detaching these elements. You may avoid losing crucial information stored in these components.
  • Gently Shake Your Drone: It sounds silly, but shaking gently helps remove as much water as possible. Take care not to be too rough — you don’t want to inflict additional physical damage.

Importance of Timely Action

Understanding how vital immediate action is once your drone takes an unplanned dip could mean life or death for it—metaphorically speaking! Your speedy response holds substantial bearing on successfully rescuing and repairing your drone. Here are some reasons why:

  • By swiftly turning off power and removing the battery and memory card, you are limiting electrical damage. A circuit short-circuiting can be disastrous for tiny intricate parts of drones, which are hard—if impossible—to fix!
  • Freshwater isn’t a good conductor of electricity. Sea or saltwater? Now that’s another story! If luck isn’t on your side and it falls into seawater – acting quicker prevents salt-crystal formation, which can cause extensive corrosion on drying up later if not addressed in time!

Remember this: even though drones have many weather-resistant capabilities – no consumer-level device is ever 100% waterproof(that’s how science works!). The faster you act, the better chances you have to save your pretty little bird. The name of the game here is mitigation – we want to give your drone its best fighting chance! So be prepared, and don’t dawdle once disaster strikes!

Cleaning and Drying Your Drone

When your drone plunges into the water, immediate action is crucial. But equally, if not more important, is the process of cleaning and drying it out.

Drone That Fell in Water: Cleaning and Drying Your Drone

Here’s a detailed look at how to do so:

Cleaning Process

Before focusing on drying your drone, it needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Ignoring this step could have dire consequences, as any lingering dirt or salt from the water can further damage internal components.

  • Step 1: First off, disconnect any power sources. This includes turning off the drone and removing its battery.
  • Step 2: Use compressed air to blow out any visible water from crevices. This process helps speed up drying by removing excess surface moisture.
  • Step 3: Wipe down all exterior parts with a microfiber cloth. It’s essential to keep an extra eye on ports or openings where water may quickly get inside.
  • Step 4: Prepare a bowl of fresh, warm water mixed with a small amount of gentle dish soap.
  • Step 5: Using a soft brush or toothbrush dipped in the warm, soapy mixture, gently scrub across the drone’s body and propellers to remove any dirt or salt deposits.

Remember: Your goal is not just to clean but also to minimize additional damage during this process.

Drying Techniques

Once you’ve cleaned your drown thoroughly comes perhaps one of the most crucial steps: drying it out completely:

  • Technique 1 – Air Drying: Probably the safest method would be air-drying your drone naturally. However, remember that this won’t work instantly; keeping patience on hand is key here.
  • Technique 2 – Vacuum Technique: If you’re short on time and are looking for quick results, try using a vacuum chamber (if available). The vacuum will help pull moisture away from delicate components without touching them physically—hence aiding in drying without causing potential damage.
  • Technique 3 – Silica Gel: Just like they do for damp electronics, small packets of silica gel can passively absorb moisture within your drone. Simply leave the drone in a sealed bag with plenty of these little packets and allow it to sit.

While these techniques might hasten the drying process, you’ll still need to be patient. Attempting to power up the drone too soon could cause more harm than good.

Also Read: Fixing Drone Wobbling: Ultimate Guide for Smooth Flights

Professional Repair Services Vs. DIY

When it comes to fixing a water-damaged drone, the decision point usually lies between doing it yourself (DIY) or seeking professional help. In this section, I will task myself with laying down elements to consider under these circumstances.

When to Seek Professional Help

Deciding whether to engage professional help or not largely depends on two key factors: the extent of damage and your comfort level with drone repairs.

The extent of Damage:

  • High: If the drone has been submerged for a long period or shows visible signs of severe damage like rusting, disintegration, or broken parts, taking it to a professional is advisable.
  • Medium: This includes damages like a motor failure and camera malfunction. Here again, if you are unfamiliar with handling such delicate parts, consider opting for professional services.
  • Low: Minor damages like minor physical damage that doesn’t affect internal electronic components can be attempted at home.

Your Comfort Level, Knowledge, and experience in drone repairs play a vital role in decision-making.

  • If DIY is something you enjoy and have been successful at in the past, then go ahead by all means. But remember, water damage recovery demands advanced technical expertise.
  • Conversely, if you tremble thinking about setting hands on your precious drone, better not risk it!

Cost-Effectiveness Of DIY

Weighing the cost-effectiveness of a DIY approach involves understanding potential costs both ways (professional services vs. going solo).

Repair Costs: Professional repair services charge based on work complexity and specific part replacements needed. In contrast, doing repairs at home eliminates labor charges but considers the cost of any replacement parts required.

Opportunity Cost: This essentially considers what else you could be doing with your time should you decide against repairing the drone yourself. What’s worth more – spending hours trying to mitigate damage and perhaps learning in the process OR unburdening yourself from this challenge to professionals?

Value of Drone: If the drone in question is a high-end model, investing in professional repairs is wise. On the contrary, if it’s more of an entry-level gadget, then a DIY approach could be considered.

After weighing the above considerations, remember every situation is unique, just like every drone, and what works best for one person might not work for someone else. Take time to make your decision, but act fast to minimize damage. Happy flying!


How long does it take for my wet drone to dry off completely?

Drying times can vary, but usually, you should allow at least 24 to 48 hours for your drone to dry thoroughly. However, this period could extend up to a week for complete drying.

My drone fell into seawater; what additional steps should I take?

After falling in seawater, which is corrosive due to salt content, you must rinse the drone lightly with fresh water to remove any sea salt and then proceed with regular cleaning and drying processes.

Should I put my wet drone in rice, just like smartphones?

While some people recommend this technique as a “quick fix,” it more often poses a danger of small particles entering into delicate parts and causing damage. It’s better instead to use silica gel packs or air-drying methods for drones.

After completely drying out, will my wet drone fly like before?

In many cases, if handled properly post-immersion and allowed adequate time for full drying, your drone could potentially fly as it used to. However, hidden damages might have occurred, which may affect its performance over time.


Operating a drone over water carries its own set of risks. Among them is the dreadful picture of a beautiful drone losing altitude and vanishing beneath the surface. However, not all hope is lost when such an unfortunate event occurs. Immediate and proper intervention, from switching off power to meticulously cleaning and drying your fallen warrior, can often breathe new life into it.

Should you find yourself too squeamish or uncertain of the appropriate steps to take, professional help is always available even if you’re on a budget; leveraging such specialized services may prevent irreversible damage – prolonging your drone’s life in the long run.

Water incidents are not necessarily a death sentence for your drone; armed with knowledge and some care techniques, you can navigate this hurdle competently and perhaps resume your aerial adventures sooner than expected.

Richard J. Gross

Hi, my name is Richard J. Gross and I’m a full-time Airbus pilot and commercial drone business owner. I got into drones in 2015 when I started doing aerial photography for real estate companies. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time, but it turns out that police were called on me shortly after I started flying. They didn’t like me flying my drone near people, so they asked me to come train their officers on the rules and regulations for drones. After that, I decided to start my own drone business and teach others about the safe and responsible use of drones.

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