What To Do If Your Drone Falls Into Water

Last Update:

We may earn commissions on our links. Learn more

If there’s one thing that can make a drone pilot’s heart skip a beat, it’s seeing their precious drone take an unexpected dive into water.

Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve had my fair share of unplanned aquatic adventures.

Drone falls into water and gets wet

Here is a quick rundown of what you need to do if your drone falls into water:

  1. Stay Calm and Assess the Situation: Panicking won’t help anyone. Make sure it’s safe to retrieve your drone.
  2. Retrieve the Drone: Use a net or other tools, and always prioritize your safety.
  3. Turn Off the Power: Disconnect the battery immediately to prevent further electrical damage.
  4. Clean and Dry: Rinse with distilled water if it’s been in saltwater, disassemble, and dry using low heat or desiccants like silica gel.
  5. Inspect and Test: After drying, reassemble your drone, inspect for damage, and power on gradually to test.

The key to rescuing your drone from potential disaster lies in quick and correct actions.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through exactly what to do if your drone gets in contact with water.

Whether you’re a seasoned pilot or a newbie, knowing how to handle a soaked drone can save you a lot of trouble—and money. From immediate steps to long-term care, I’ve got you covered.

What to do if your drone falls into water – Immediate Steps to Take

1. Stay Calm and Assess the Situation

If your drone unexpectedly finds itself taking an unplanned dip, it’s crucial to remain calm and assess the situation before taking action.

Getting flustered will only make the problem worse, so take a deep breath and evaluate the risks involved in retrieving your drone.

First and foremost, consider your own safety. Is the water deep, fast-moving, or in a hazardous location? If so, it may be best to call for professional help rather than putting yourself in danger.

However, if the water is shallow and calm, you can likely fetch the drone yourself.

2. Retrieve the Drone

Once you’ve determined it’s safe to proceed, it’s time to get your drone out of the water.

If you have a net or other tool handy, use it to carefully scoop up the drone. Avoid touching the drone with your bare hands, as the water may have conducted electricity, making it unsafe to handle.

If you don’t have a net, you can try using a long stick or pole to gently push the drone towards the shore. Be patient and take your time – rushing could cause further damage to your drone.

3. Turn Off the Power

As soon as your drone is out of the water, immediately disconnect the battery. This will prevent further electrical damage and minimize the risk of short circuits.

If possible, remove the battery and place it in a dry, well-ventilated area to allow it to fully dry out before attempting to use it again.

Once the battery is disconnected, carefully dry off the drone with a clean, dry cloth. Avoid using heat or compressed air, as these can force water deeper into the drone’s components.

Remember, water and electronics don’t mix well, so it’s essential to act quickly and decisively to minimize the damage to your drone.

With a calm head and the right steps, you can often save your drone from a watery grave.

Cleaning and Drying a Wet Drone

Drying off a wet drone

Freshwater vs. Saltwater

When your drone takes an unexpected dip, the type of water it fell into matters.

Freshwater is generally less harmful, but saltwater can be a real menace due to its corrosive nature.

If your drone took a dive in salt water, rinse it with distilled water as soon as possible to wash away the salt.

Disassembly and Drying

Once you’ve retrieved your soggy drone, it’s time to get down to business.

1. Disassemble Carefully: Take your drone apart gently. Remove the battery, camera, and other detachable parts.
2. Drying Methods:
Hairdryer (Low Heat): Use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting to dry out the components. Keep a safe distance to avoid overheating.
Ventilated Area: Place the drone in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Patience is key here.
Chemical Desiccants: Use silica gel packets or calcium chloride to absorb moisture. These work better than the famous rice method.

Post-Drying Steps

Assembling a drone

Reassembly and Inspection

After your drone has dried completely, it’s time to put it back together and inspect it for any damage. Follow these steps:

  • Reassemble the Drone: Carefully reattach all the parts you disassembled. Make sure everything fits snugly and is properly aligned.
  • Inspect for Moisture: Check for any remaining moisture or signs of water damage. Use a flashlight to look inside small crevices.

Testing the Drone

Before you take your drone back to the skies, it’s crucial to test it thoroughly:

  1. Gradual Power-Up: Start by turning on the drone’s power slowly. Listen for any unusual sounds or smells. If something seems off, turn it off immediately.
  2. Short Flight Tests: Begin with short, low-altitude flights to ensure all components are functioning properly. Gradually increase the flight duration and altitude as you gain confidence.

The Damage Caused by Water – Possible Issues and Fixes

Water can cause various issues in your drone. Here are some common problems and how to fix them:

  • Motor Damage: If the motors are not spinning correctly, they might be damaged. You may need to replace them or clean them thoroughly to remove any debris.
  • Mainboard Issues: Water on the mainboard can cause short circuits. Inspect the board for any visible damage. If necessary, consult a professional for repairs.
  • Camera Fogging: If your camera lens is foggy, it might still have moisture inside. Place the camera in a sealed bag with silica gel packets to absorb the moisture.
  • Battery Damage: Water can ruin batteries. If your battery shows signs of swelling or corrosion, replace it immediately.
Water Damage on drone

Drone warranty and water damage

Contacting the Manufacturer

When your drone has been in contact with water, one of the first things you should consider is contacting the manufacturer. Here’s what you need to know:

1. When to Reach Out: As soon as your drone has been exposed to water and you’ve followed the immediate steps to dry it, it’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer. They can provide specific instructions that may help prevent further damage.

2. Information to Provide: When you reach out, be ready to give:
– Your drone’s model and serial number
– A detailed description of what happened
– Any immediate actions you took after retrieving the drone

Having this information handy can speed up the process and help the manufacturer offer the best advice or service.

Warranty and Insurance Considerations

Understanding your warranty and insurance coverage is crucial when dealing with water-damaged drones. Here’s a breakdown:

1. Warranty Coverage: Most standard warranties do not cover water damage. However, it’s worth checking the details of your warranty to be sure. If water damage is covered, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for repairs or replacements.

2. Insurance Plans: Some insurance plans like Autel Robotics Care or DJI Care Refresh offer coverage for water damage. These plans often include:
– Accidental damage coverage
– Replacement or repair options

If you have such a plan, contact the insurance provider immediately to report the incident and follow their process for filing a claim.

Tips from a Professional

As a professional photographer and drone pilot, I’ve had my fair share of close calls with water. Here are a few tips from my personal experience:

Document Everything: Take photos of the drone after retrieving it from water. This documentation can be helpful for insurance claims or when explaining the situation to the manufacturer.
Stay Honest: When contacting the manufacturer or insurance provider, be honest about what happened. Misleading information can result in denial of coverage or repairs.
Keep Receipts: Always keep receipts of your drone purchase, accessories, and any additional insurance plans. They can be vital when filing a warranty or insurance claim.

Drone falls in the water

How to Prevent Your Drone from Landing in Water

Avoiding Water Landings

Flying a drone near water can be thrilling but also risky. Here are some practical tips to help you avoid an unexpected splashdown:

  • Pre-flight Checks: Always perform a thorough pre-flight check. Ensure all components are secure and functioning properly. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Maximum Flight Distance: Set a conservative maximum flight distance to maintain control. Keeping your drone within a safe range can help you avoid risky areas.
  • Practice and Preparation: Spend time practicing in open, dry areas before flying near water. The more comfortable you are with your drone’s controls, the less likely you are to make mistakes.

Waterproofing Options

While no drone is completely waterproof, some options can offer extra protection:

  • Waterproof Drones: Consider investing in a waterproof drone if you frequently fly over water. These drones are designed to withstand wet conditions better than regular drones.
  • Water Landing Gear: I attach this when I fly over water, but I only land in water with it in an emergency. Great for drone fishing.
  • Waterproof Coatings: Apply waterproof coatings to your drone. While not foolproof, they can provide an additional layer of protection. However, remember that these coatings have limitations and won’t make your drone invincible.

What to Do if it Starts to Rain When You Are Flying a Drone

Sometimes, weather conditions change unexpectedly. If you find yourself caught in rain while flying your drone, here’s what you should do:

  1. Return Home Immediately: Activate the return-to-home function or manually fly your drone back to you as quickly as possible. The faster you retrieve it, the less exposure it will have to moisture.
  2. Proper Storage: Once you’ve retrieved your drone, dry it off with a clean, dry cloth. Store it in a dry place and use silica gel packets to absorb any remaining moisture.
  3. Drying Post-Rain: If your drone got wet, follow the cleaning and drying steps outlined earlier in this guide. Quick action can prevent long-term damage.

Personal Tips and Advice

I have flown drones for over a decade now, and I’ve had my share of close calls. Here are some personal tips that might help:

  • I always check the weather forecast before planning a drone flight. A little preparation can save you a lot of trouble.
  • Practice flying in different conditions, but always prioritize safety. Knowing how your drone handles in various scenarios can be incredibly beneficial.
  • Invest in accessories like floating landing gear if you often fly over water. These can help keep your drone afloat in case of an accidental landing. I use this water landing gear for my Mini 3 Pro when flying over water.

By following these tips and being prepared, you can significantly reduce the risk of your drone landing in water.

Commonly Asked Questions

How can I prevent my drone from getting wet?

To avoid your drone getting wet, always check the weather forecast before flying. Perform thorough pre-flight checks to ensure all components are secure. If flying near water, consider using waterproof drones or water landing gear. Avoid flying in rain or over large water bodies to minimize risks.

What should I do if my drone falls into the water?

If your drone falls into water, stay calm and assess the situation first. Quickly fetch the drone using tools like a net or a long stick if necessary. Turn off the power and disconnect the battery immediately to prevent further electrical damage. Rinse with distilled water if it fell into saltwater, then dry thoroughly.

How do I dry my drone after it gets wet?

After retrieving your wet drone, disassemble it carefully. Use a hairdryer on low heat or place it in a well-ventilated area to dry. Silica gel packets or calcium chloride work better than rice for absorbing moisture. Ensure all parts are completely dry before reassembly.

What are the signs of water damage in a drone?

Signs of water damage in a drone include unusual noises from the motor, corrosion on the mainboard, foggy camera lenses, and damaged batteries. If you notice any of these, take steps to clean and dry the affected parts. Replace any components that show permanent damage.

Can water damage be repaired in a drone?

Yes, many water damage issues can be repaired. Motors can be cleaned or replaced, mainboards can be inspected for corrosion, and batteries should be replaced if damaged. Follow proper drying and inspection steps to recover your drone. Consult a professional if needed.

What should I do if my drone gets caught in the rain?

If your drone gets caught in the rain, activate the return-to-home function or manually fly it back immediately. Once fetched, dry it off with a cloth and store it in a dry place with silica gel packets to absorb any remaining moisture. Follow thorough drying processes to prevent damage.

Should I contact the manufacturer if my drone falls into water?

Yes, contacting the manufacturer can be a good idea. Provide details like your drone’s model, serial number, and a description of the incident. They may offer repair or replacement options, especially if you have warranty or insurance coverage.

How can I check if my drone’s electronics are still working after getting wet?

After drying your drone, reassemble it and perform a gradual power-up. Listen for unusual sounds or smells. Conduct short, low-altitude flight tests to ensure all components function properly. Inspect the circuit board and other electronics for signs of corrosion or damage before flying again.

Jesse Young
Latest posts by Jesse Young (see all)