Hurricane Irma caused major flooding in Charleston, leaving many homes and businesses severely damaged. Everybody’s in a hurry to get things back to normal, but when it comes to electrical safety, it is important that you carefully evaluate your surroundings before moving ahead with any work. If your house has been severely damaged by flood waters, remember that electrocution can be a serious threat.
Here are some electrical safety guidelines to help keep you safe:
- Take care when stepping into a flooded area. Submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water. The only way to ensure the house is completely disconnected from the grid is to have the utility company, fire department, or a licensed electrical remove the home’s electrical meter from its socket. Even if your power is out, you can still be electrocuted if someone is running a generator nearby and back-feeding electricity into the storm damaged grid. Do not ever touch electrical equipment with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface!
- Many electrical hazards may be hidden, therefore any electrical wiring and equipment that have been submerged in water can create a serious fire hazard. Ocean waters and salt spray can be particularly damaging to electrical equipment due to the corrosive and conductive nature of the salt water residue. A licensed electrician should examine all electrical equipment that has been wet. Only then will you know if it can be reconditioned or needs to be completely replaced
- Do not turn on or plug in any electrical appliances that have been wet unless you have a licensed electricians tell you it is safe. Electrical appliances exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if re-energized without proper reconditioning or replacement.
- Pay increased attention to grounding and bonding as it can be severely damaged by floodwaters. Only a licensed electrician is equipped and trained to evaluate the damage and conduct a thorough survey the system
- Professional cleaning and drying might not be enough to remove all the sediments and toxins from floodwater, most electrical equipment will still need to be replaced even if they were only briefly submerged in water.
The following will almost certainly need to be inspected by a licensed electrician:
- All electrical wiring systems. Including plastic-sheathed building wire (Romex), armored cable (BX), circuit panels and circuit breakers, fuse boxes, and fuses, sub panels, etc.
- Light switches, thermostats, outlet receptacles, light fixtures, electric heaters and ceiling fans.
- Furnace burner and blower motors, transformers, elements and relays for furnaces and hot water tanks
- Hot water tanks
- Washing machines, dryers, furnaces, heat pumps, freezers, refrigerators, humidifiers, vacuums, power tools, exercise equipment and similar appliances.
- Electronic equipment, including computers and home entertainment systems
A licensed air conditioning or a heating/cooling contractor can advise you whether your heating or cooling equipment can be salvaged. It depends on the type of equipment, the depth of the floodwaters, and the duration of submersion.
Transworld, Inc. has been a local electrical contractor for over 30 years in Charleston, South Carolina. You can trust that our licensed electricians are prepared with the skills and experience necessary to ensure that your home or business’s electrical system is safe after flooding.