Does Water Damage Ruin Electrical Wires?

“Historic rain and snowfall” in 2023 have led to flood water damage for homeowners. Floods aren’t uncommon but weather experts say climate change will cause an increase in floods and floodwater damage.

March 2023 local headlines may predict the future:

If your home has had flood water entry or water damage from a leak – even a small amount and only temporarily – your electrical wiring is like a loose cannon. In fact, any water leak repair project should include an electrical inspection.

How Water Damage Impacts Electrical Wiring

When you discover your refrigerator’s icemaker doesn’t work because of a catastrophic leak, you focus on repairing the structural damage. What you can’t see can hurt you.

Appliance and plumbing leaks can continue for days – even months – before you realize you have a problem. Electrical wiring can survive some exposure to water, but there’s no way to know if your home’s wiring has been under water for 24 minutes, hours, or in some cases, days.

Floodwater Damage

Flood water damage is different and of greater concern because there’s no telling what’s in the water. Flood water contaminants can include:

  • Chemicals and fertilizers – farm runoffs
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Sewage
  • …and more

If floodwaters have entered your home, shut off the power at the meter before re-entering the house. Any water is an excellent electrical conductor, including floodwater. In fact, floodwaters can contain calcium, magnesium, and sodium, which serve as charged ions. This makes floodwater even more of an electrical danger.

A licensed electrician can test your wiring immediately after a flood. But even if it works, it’s not a good idea to use it. Your electrical wiring may appear dry and undamaged, but corrosion and mildew can damage the wires’ insulation long-term, causing a dangerous electrical hazard when you least expect it.

Signs You Have Water-Damaged Wiring

Submerged appliances should be replaced (even if they work). Appliances and electronics often damaged by flood waters include:

  • Ceiling fans
  • Clothes dryers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Electric heaters
  • Electrical system panel
  • Freezers
  • HVAC system elements/components, heat pumps
  • Light fixtures
  • Light switches
  • Outlets/receptacles
  • Refrigerators
  • Stoves/ovens/microwaves
  • Thermostats
  • Washing machines
  • Water heater tanks/components

If you hear a buzzing or humming noise coming from an appliance, light switch, or outlet after heavy rainfall, that’s a sign an electrical wire is holding a charge. If you attempt to fix it, you may get quite a shock (if you’re lucky). Injury or death can also occur.

As soon as possible after a flood or water damage event, schedule an electrical inspection. If you don’t replace damaged wires, watch for these signs indicating you have an electrical problem:

  • Broken/cracked outlets
  • Frayed wires
  • Frequent circuit breaker tripping
  • Smell of burning plastic
  • Sparks from fixtures, outlets, switches

If You Suspect Electrical Water Damage, Contact TIO Electric

Following any disaster, it’s natural to want to “get back to normal” as quickly as possible. Substantial water damage to a house often requires a general contractor, plumber, and home electric professional. Our disaster-response electrical technicians at Turn It On Electric frequently team with Phoenix-area contractors to make your home safe and comfortable as soon as possible.

We’ll work with your insurance provider to deliver the most affordable solutions without compromising safety.

You’ve heard sayings about turning problems into opportunities and making lemonade out of lemons. If you need electrical water damage control, it’s a good time to invest in upgrades that will increase your property value and lower monthly utility bills.

As a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified business, we follow electrical standards for energy efficiency that will save money and preserve our planet.

To learn more, contact TIO.

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