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Circuit Board Corrosion

Posted by Tim Wortman on

These irregular patterns and vibrant colors could easily be from satellite shots of an alien atmosphere. Yet these pictures are not of another planet. This is a severely corroded circuit board, specifically one for a truck’s instrument cluster. When metals such as iron, copper, tin, and lead are exposed to oxygen and water, metal oxides form on the surface. Different metals oxidize differently, hence the painter’s pallet of colors in these photos. As the owner of a vehicle or appliance, this is what you need to know: any exposure to water is bad for metallic compounds, but exposure to a lot of water is exceedingly bad and produces corrosive damage in a short amount of time. Therefore, if a circuit board is not cleaned and dried after exposure to rain, flooding, or spills, it will not take long for corrosion like this to appear.

If the corroded area is small and contained, it can be restored. The level of corrosion shown in these example photos, however, cannot be cleaned or fixed. Circuit board corrosion can cause important electrical connections to be severed, or it can create electrical connections where there shouldn’t be any. On a small scale, these broken or false connections can be individually repaired. But when the vias (copper pathways between the plastic board) are affected, or entire components are degraded, the best option is to find a replacement. Due to the unpredictable devastation of corrosion, we cannot pinpoint it as the cause of a malfunctioning circuit board without visual confirmation. If your vehicle or appliance is having electrical issues after water exposure, it is a good idea to send it to us. It may not be repairable, but we will always look for the best way to restore your damaged circuit board.