Floods are one of nature's most devastating disasters. If you live in a flood plain or coastal area, you're probably all too familiar with the havoc floods can wreak on unsuspecting homeowners. Water and electricity especially don't mix, and many flood victims find that their home's wiring and appliances are completely ruined after bad weather strikes. Fortunately, with a little preparation and quick thinking, you may be able to minimize the flood damage done to your home's electrical system.
Preventing Electrical Flood Damage
If you have advance notice of a potential flood in your area, you can take several steps to help reduce damage to your home's appliances and electrical system.
First, protect your home's wiring by shutting off all power. Short-circuits are far more likely if wires are carrying a current, so keeping your power off until after the flood may prevent certain types of water damage. Using outlet covers will not make your outlets watertight, but can provide some protection from splashing or leaking inside your home.
Once the power is disconnected, try to move your appliances as far from danger as possible. If you have a second story, it's an ideal storage location for all electrical devices until after the flood has passed. Otherwise you can try stacking lighter appliances on top of furniture to give them a measure of protection. Heavier appliances can also be raised up from the floor with the help of cinder blocks. When it comes to avoiding flood damage, the higher off the ground you can get your electrical items, the better.
If your home already has water in it, do not try to disconnect your appliances or touch any electrical components. Even if your power is shut off, some devices can store residual electricity that may be enough to harm you if you touch them while wet.
Getting Your Home's Power Back In Working Order
After the flood subsides, it's time to survey the damage and begin repairs. Immediately contact your home insurance company if you have a flood or weather damage policy, and take plenty of photos inside your home to document the flood effects before you change anything. Do not turn the power back on.
Call an electrician and have your power main inspected. The electrician should start with the main and work up to the circuit breakers and wiring, informing you of necessary repairs along the way. After repairs are made, or if the electrical inspector says it's safe, you can turn the main back on. Before you do this, however, make sure that all branch circuit breakers and power switches, including those for your home appliances, are turned off. Each branch of your home's wiring will need to be inspected individually.
As the electrician moves through your home inspecting wiring, sockets, circuit breakers, and appliance switches, you can also have them inspect potentially damaged appliances. Larger electrical appliances like washers, dryers, and ovens/ranges should never be turned back on without first undergoing rigorous inspection by an electrician.
Restoring Damaged Appliances
Depending on the type of water damage your appliances sustained, you can expect to take slightly different restoration steps. Clean water damage, such as flooding due to a burst pipe, can often be undone by thoroughly drying compromised electrical devices. Dirty water damage caused by flooding from outside often deposits dirt, silt, and debris inside appliances, so they may need to be rewired to function again.
Small appliances like microwaves are typically not worth the cost of repairs, but you can save significantly by repairing large appliances instead of replacing them. A skilled electrician will be able to inspect and repair damaged items for less than the purchase price in most cases. Never attempt to turn on a damaged appliance without first having an electrician inspect it, even if you believe it is dry and clean.
Don't take any risks before or after flooding occurs in your home. Electricity is dangerous, and no amount of money saved is worth being injured or killed by the combination of electricity and water. If you want to stay safe and get your home back to normal quickly, consult a qualified electrician and check it out more to find out what repairs your home may need.