Effect Of Moisture On Printed Circuit Boards

Where do you keep your electronics—the ones you don't use, but want to store for future use? If the basement is your chosen storage place, then you might as well throw away these appliances. This is because the basement is prone to moisture, and moisture can wreak great havoc on your electronics' printed circuit boards. Here are four ways in which this may happen:


PCBs are designed with many materials, including metals such as copper. Exposing metal to moisture leads to corrosion. Corroded conductors have higher electrical resistance than they were designed to handle, and this reduces the efficiency of the affected electronics. Apart from that, the corrosion may also affect metallic components, such as transistors. That would lead to deterioration of the affected components, which may render your appliance useless.

Mold Growth

Mold can grow almost anywhere as long as the temperature is right, and moisture is present. Therefore, your electronic appliances are likely to have a mold problem if water manages to pass through the outer casing and reach the PCB. The same thing can also happen if the basement temperature falls low enough for the humid air to condense. Just like corrosion, mold also hastens the deterioration of materials and increases the electrical resistance of conductors.

Short Circuit

Even if the PCBs do not develop problems in storage, there is a high chance that the affected appliances may still get damaged when you take them out of storage and try to use them. Some electronics may not be damaged by water as long as they are switched off. However, when you take them out of storage and power them on, then the moisture (which conducts water) connects different parts of the circuit that should not be connected, and a short circuit ensues.

Dendrite Formation

Dendrites are metallic crystals that form when ions migrate from one place to another due to different charges. The presence of moisture encourages dendrite formation. When this happens, they bridge PCB gaps and connect contacts that should not be connected. This causes a short circuit, and may even cause electrical sparks and fire. Dendrite formation is especially common in electronics stored with their batteries.

It's clear that you need a moisture-free and temperature-controlled storage place for your valued electronics. It's also clear that most basements do not fit this description. Since you may find it difficult to maintain such conditions in your house, the best thing is to use a self-storage facility for them, such as AAA Flying Trolley Self Storage.