Circuit Board Exposed to Rain

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Circuit Board Exposed to Rain

Postby Molly O'Hara » Mon May 14, 2012 9:30 am

Question: "We have an operational circuit board that was accidentally exposed to rain water for a few hours. The circuit board was subsequently dried, and has now been operational for 14 months. Is there a greater likelihood of failure at this stage compared to other circuit boards?"
H. M. Answer from Sunstone Circuits: The short answer is maybe.

It really depends on the specifics of the rain exposure. During manufacturing, circuit boards are often immersed in liquid. If dried thoroughly, we usually recommend about 1 hour at 300F after the exposure to moisture, I would not expect there to be any long term effect to the board.

However, if the board were allowed to only air dry after the exposure, then I could see there being a potential for long term reliability problems. One of the possible issues would be the laminate material absorbing moisture which over time has the ability to cause delamination (separation) of the material.

I would be willing to bet that after 14 months of operation that the potential is not highly likely. If there was any exposed copper (not covered with solder or other surface finish) on the product during the exposure to moisture, there could be a potential for long term reliability issues due to corrosion of the copper feature that was directly exposed to moisture and not dried completely.

14 months is a pretty good time frame that if there are no issues currently that there are not likely going to be any that surface.
Molly O'Hara
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Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:00 am

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