Are Metal Detectors Waterproof? (Avoid a Costly Repair Bill)

I was recently out detecting and it started to rain quite heavily. I frantically got my things together and ran back to my car to keep my detector from getting wet, and when I got home, I did some research to know how to protect my metal detector from water.

So are metal detectors waterproof? It depends on how the metal detector was put together. Many metal detectors are waterproof, while others are not. Metal detectors also have a maximum depth of water they are able to go. Referencing your metal detector manual will usually tell you if it is waterproof and how deep it’s waterproof to.

It’s easy to think your metal detector won’t be damaged since your coil seems to be never suffer from water damage, but that’s often not the case. There are multiple electronic parts to a metal detector, and just because one part is waterproof, it doesn’t mean the other parts are too.

I’ve split this article into multiple sections explaining what to do if your metal detector gets wet, what metal detectors are truly waterproof, and waterproof headphone suggestions. Metal detectors aren’t always cheap, and quickly reading through these sections will better educate you to protect your metal detector from any major water damage in the future.

What Happens When a Metal Detector Gets Wet

Most metal detectors have something called a control box to adjust your discrimination, sensitivity, pin pointer, and other various features. The control box also houses your battery connection and all of the electronic circuits that make your detector work.

Anytime water, electronics, and power combine, you can expect major damage, if not complete failure of your detector. Avoid getting water in your control box at all costs, even in detectors that are marked as being water resistant. Water resistance and waterproof are two totally different terms that often get confused with one another.

Waterproof means that an electronic item will not let water into the sensitive electronic parts. Water resistant means that while lighter amounts of water, such as a rain shower, may be okay, although complete submergence for any amount of substantial time will cause electronic failure.

Symptoms of water damage in your metal detector can be anything from complete failure (no power) to erratic beeping, noises, and false readings. It basically goes “crazy”.

Your coil is usually a different story. While the coil is connected to the control box to be able to send signals back to the electronics to help you find treasure, they are usually encapsulated in a way to avoid most ground water they come in contact with from getting to the internal coil wiring. This doesn’t mean you should be submerging your coil under water unless your detector is actually waterproof because there is a connecting wire from the base of your coil to the control box. If the connection to the wire by the coil base is not waterproof, it can allow water to get into the wiring and damage your coil.

What to Do If Your Metal Detector Gets Wet

If your metal detector has gotten wet the very first step is to immediately turn it off and remove the battery from your control box. The reason why you do this, is to prevent any further damage from occurring by removing any kind of power that can mix with water to hurt your electronics.

Once you’ve taken your battery out, you must must not turn it back on until you are sure the electronics are completely dried out. Inserting the battery or turning the metal detector on while there is still water around the electronics, will lead to damage just as before.

Here are some ways you can speed up and ensure the electronics are dry:

  • Remove the control box cover
  • Use a hair dryer (Careful not to get the electronics too hot, as it can cause damage.)
  • Put the detector in a dry place with a fan blowing into the control box
  • Remove the entire control box, fill it with rice. Rice works wonders for getting moisture out of electronics over two or three days. Just make sure to get all of the rice grains out when you’re done.

After you are completely sure your control box electronics are dry, you can try reinserting the battery and powering it on. Depending on how much damage occurred between the time you turned the detector off and removed the battery will vary. Sometimes you’ll be lucky and there won’t be any damage at all, while other times it could be ruined.

If you suspect your electronics have been damaged from water, it’s time to start looking for parts to replace.

If you feel comfortable taking your control box apart, you can inspect the electronics and boards for small areas of black, rusty, or white looking areas. Usually these areas will be along the lines (traces) on the electronic boards. Sometimes, very rarely, a little rubbing alcohol can be used to try to clean these areas up and repair them if the damage isn’t too severe.

If you’re not confident in your skills, you can always take your metal detector to an authorized repair shop or contact the manufacturer and ask them what you should do. Many manufacturers will fix your metal detector with new parts. If you want to avoid sending the detector all the way back to the manufacturer, they will usually give you a list of authorized repair centers around you. You can usually find authorized sales and repair locations close to you on their website.

Which Metal Detectors are Waterproof

While waterproof metal detectors exist, the common ones all have their water depth limits. Here’s some of the more well-known and reputable waterproof metal detectors, along with their maximum waterproof depths. Remember, water resistance and waterproof are two entirely different things. I’m only listing detectors that are actually waterproof below.

  • Fisher 1280x – 250ft/76m
  • Fisher CZ-21 – 250ft/76m
  • Garret AT Gold – 10ft/3m
  • Garret AT Max – 10ft/3m
  • Garret AT Pro – 10ft/3m
  • Minelab CTX 3030 – 10ft/3m
  • Minelab Equinox 600 – 10ft/3m
  • Minelab Equinox 800 10ft/3m
  • Minelab Excalibur – 200ft/60m
  • Nokta / Makro Gold Kruzer – 16ft
  • Nokta / Makro Kruzer – 16ft/4.8m
  • Nokta / Makro Multi Kruzer – 16ft/4.8m
  • Nokta Anfibio 14 – 16ft/4.8m
  • Nokta Anfibio 19 – 16ft/4.8m
  • Nokta Anfibio Multi – 16ft/4.8m
  • Tesoro Tiger Shark – 200ft/60m
  • White’s MX Sport – 10ft/3m

What About Headphones For Underwater Metal Detecting

Headphones are useful and even required to use if you’re metal detecting under water. Very rarely will you be able to hear the built-in metal detector’s speaker with any substantial water depth. While headphones tend to be water resilient, like metal detectors, they aren’t always waterproof.

If you choose to keep your head above water and have a metal detector or headphone adapter capable of wireless headphone connectivity, as soon as your control box goes underwater, you will lose the wireless signal for sound.

This is where headphones specifically made for underwater metal detecting come in, but there’s a problem. Some metal detector brands have chosen to use proprietary plugins for headphones. There are adapter cables available, but few if any are waterproof connections to the control box. Below you will find some headphones that correspond to the metal detectors above.

  • LS.Pelso – Equinox Headphones (Compatible with the Minelab Equinox 600 and 800 models.)
  • LS.Pelso – CTX Headphones (Comatable with the Minelab CTX-3030 model.)
  • LS.Pelso – Nokta / Makro / Kruzer Headphones (Compatible with the Makro Kruzer models.)
  • White’s Waterproof Sport – (Compatible with the White’s MX Sport model.)
  • Garrett Underwater Headphones – (Compatible with the AT Pro, AT Gold, and AT Max.)

Obviously the best bang for the buck here is the Garret Underwater Headphones since it covers all three (plus some others) of their flagship models. The problem here is that those metal detector models can only go up to 10ft/3m of water before they begin to lose their waterproof features.

Thankfully, if you’re reading this, you may be newer to the metal detecting hobby, and you aren’t planning on going detecting for shipwreck treasure right away. If you are, you may want to look into more expensive metal detectors specifically made for deep water treasure hunting. The deep water metal detectors, while carrying a heavier price tag, tend to come with their own headphones/speakers of some sort.

Summary

This article mainly went over the worst case scenarios of water damage. If you into a little rain shower and a couple drops of rain get on your metal detector, you shouldn’t have to worry. Just turn your detector off, cover up your control box, and put it in a dry place. If you’ve been caught in a flooding rain or even dropped your detector in a pond or lake, and it’s not waterproof, you could be looking at costly repairs to get it working again. If you plan on going metal detecting completely underwater, it’s essential that you have a good pair of waterproof headphones.

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