Any type of electrical equipment, wiring, mechanisms, appliances, etc. that get wet or are submerged in water can be extremely dangerous. Water damage is commonly caused by area flooding. After a disaster of this type, homeowners are eager to clean up and get back to normal life. But rushing through this process isn’t always safe. You need to be aware of all damage, especially electrical, to avoid hurting yourself or others.
The best way to assure you’re entering a safe home is to call a professional. They have the knowledge needed to assess damage in the home. You and the professional should avoid contact with any water that remains after the tragedy. The electricity should be turned off at the fuse box if it’s deemed safe to do so. Damaged appliances should be unplugged and moved away from any area that was affected by the water. And services such as the electricity and the gas shouldn’t be turned on until it’s safe to do so.
Any repair work should be undertaken by a professional. Water damage shouldn’t be taken lightly and definitely isn’t a fun do-it-yourself home project. An electrician will be able to determine if equipment and appliances can be dried out and restored or if new installation must be done.
Any rooms affected should be completely dry and retain how humidity. An area with high humidity will make it easier for moisture to be reabsorbed into equipment, wring, and appliances.
Flood water is typically contaminated with sewage, chemicals, silt, and other debris, which makes the damage worse. Those toxins will affect the performance of any electrical equipment or appliances and will increase the chance that complete installation or replacement needs to take place. And if anything is not cleaned thoroughly, it can cause future corrosion and problems.
When everything is complete and the home is back up and running, it’s important to test everything. Make sure lights are working and remain on and test circuit breakers by intentionally tripping them with the proper technology. Infrared testing can also be done to make sure there are no system overloads or damaged equipment. This type of testing and inspection should be done on a regular basis in the year following damage.
NEMA has published a free guide, detailing water-damaged electrical equipment. While this is helpful for the homeowner to read, it’s still important to stress that a professional, not the homeowner, should always inspect and assess the damage.