Flooding can occur from the coast to several hundreds of miles inland. Flooding can happen in a number of ways including river and stream overflow, excessive rain, or storm surge to name a few. Floodwater contaminants can create serious fire hazards if electrical wiring and equipment have been submerged in water. Ocean water and salt spray can be particularly damaging to electrical equipment due to the corrosive and conductive nature of the salt water residue. Even with professional cleaning and drying, sediments and toxins from floodwater are difficult to remove.
In the aftermath of a flood, there may be hidden electrical hazards. Before beginning the cleanup effort, have a qualified electrician check the house wiring, assess other damages and proceed with repair work. Then, follow these important safety tips:
Take care when stepping into a flooded area. Be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water, posing a potentially lethal trap.
Have an electrician inspect electrical appliances that have been wet, and do not turn on or plug in appliances unless an electrician tells you it is safe. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if reenergized without proper reconditioning or replacement.
A qualified service repair dealer should examine all electrical equipment that has been wet. Certain equipment will require replacement, while a trained professional may be able to recondition other devices.
Do not touch a circuit breaker or replace a fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface. Use a dry plastic- or rubber-insulated tool to reset breakers and use only one hand.
If using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or pressure washer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Replace or Recondition?
After a serious flood, some items may be reconditioned, while others will need to be completely replaced to protect you and your family. It is recommended that you allow an electrician or electrical inspector to guide the restoration or replacement of any electrical wiring or equipment.
Corrosion and insulation damage can occur when water and silt get inside electrical devices and products. Water can also damage the motors in electrical appliances. Therefore, you should be prepared to replace:
Circuit breakers and fuses
All electrical wiring systems
Light switches, thermostats, outlets, light fixtures, electric heaters and ceiling fans
Furnace burner and blower motors, ignition transformers, elements, and relays for furnaces and hot water tanks
Hot water tanks
Washing machines, dryers, furnaces, heat pumps, freezers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, vacuums, power tools, exercise equipment and similar appliances
Electronic equipment, including computers and home entertainment systems