Avoid Electrical Hazards from Flooding
- When possible, we recommend that you contact a licensed electrician to advise and assist during flood conditions in turning power off at the breaker box and back on. If it appears that water will get as high as the outlets in your house, we recommend that you cut off power at the breaker box only if you are able to do so safely and without standing in water.
- With the circuit breaker off and all appliances disconnected, plug in one floor lamp. Then, reset the breaker and check other plugs one at a time. If the breaker trips when you reset it, you should call an electrician.
- If electrical appliances – including your air conditioning system – were submerged in water, allow them to dry for at least one week. Also, have a qualified repair person inspect before turning them on.
Homes Electrical System Grounding and Home Appliances
There are two aspects to every home’s electrical system: the parts designed to carry electrical current during normal operation, and the parts designed to carry current safely to ground should something go wrong.
The latter is known as the home’s grounding and bonding system and it can be severely damaged by floodwaters. Only a licensed electrician is equipped and trained to evaluate the damage. All metal components of a homes’ electrical system should be evaluated by a licensed electrician after flooding, and replaced if necessary. For example, metal electrical boxes that have been submerged may rust, and the rust on the box prevents an adequate connection to the home’s grounding system.
Once you begin recovery efforts, keep in mind that all flooded electrical equipment may be ruined. Make sure you have an electrician review the following:
- Plastic-sheathed building wire (often referred to by the trade name Romex)
- Armored cable (often referred to by the trade name BX)
- Circuit panels and circuit breakers
- Fuse boxes and fuses
- Sub panels
- Switched disconnect boxes
- Outlet receptacles
- Circuit boards
- Non-submersible pumps
- Blowers and fans
- Air conditioners
A licensed air conditioning or a heating/cooling contractor can advise you whether your heating or cooling equipment can be salvaged. It depends upon the type of equipment, the depth of the floodwaters, and the duration of submersion. Many people try to salvage appliances such as dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and freezers that have been in flooded basements. Some do go on to live a post-flood life, but it’s risky: They can be extremely dangerous to operate after they’ve been flooded.