Everyone knows that water and electricity don’t mix. Though the degree of damage these two primal elements can wreak can vary depending on the volume of water, the amount of time the electrical components were exposed, the type of wiring, and other factors. You might even be surprised to hear that there are guidelines defining and outlining the impact of water damage on electrical wiring.

There can be a major difference between a home or business that’s been soaked for days by flood water and a building that’s suffered an albeit serious water intrusion event from a severe roof leak or gutter failure.

Even though electrical wiring is technically considered to be insulated, a significant volume of water can still damage the wires in your home or business to the point where using the electrical system becomes far too dangerous! Not to mention a potential violation of the local fire safety codes!

To understand the different degrees of wiring damage caused by water, we’re going to have to take a closer look at these two elemental forces and how they can interact in residential as well as commercial electrical systems.

Does Exposure To Water Permanently Damage Electrical Wiring?

Severe water damage will always ruin the electrical wires in a home or office building. Though it isn’t always just the water that causes permanent damage. It’s worth bearing in mind that a flood is rarely pure, clean water pouring into your home or place of business.

Flood waters from things like natural disasters backed up storm sewers and storm surges, typically come with a staggering array of contaminants. This can include things like:

  • Gas
  • Vehicle oil
  • Farm runoff chemicals
  • Biological material
  • Silt & excess sediment
  • Medical waste
  • Effluent wastewater and other forms of sewage

So while the water itself is potentially damaging, the overarching concern with a serious flood might just be brought in by the water and end up being more damaging to the wiring and the building than water could ever be.

Does Electrical Wiring Need To Be Tested After Water Damage?

After a flood or any sort of water inundation event, you need to make sure that the wiring and appliances are all properly tested by a licensed electrician. It can be tempting in the aftermath of a natural disaster cleanup to want to plug things in and turn things back on as soon as possible.

Though you might end up doing more harm than good. Not to mention putting your recently dried-out home or office at risk of serious damage from an electrical fire.

The safest, and wisest course of action is to have a professional, licensed electrician come in to perform an electrical test. These are highly trained and experienced professionals who can perform a variety of tests to exactly determine the extent of the water damage and the condition of your electrical wiring.

Even if most of your property’s wiring passes the various tests in terms of safety, you might still need to replace your wiring, outlets, and electrical appliances in the affected area. Sometimes, even if your wires perform at a safe level right after flooding has occurred, corrosion can continue to occur over time. This is why many homeowner’s and commercial property insurance policies have fine print clauses requiring wiring replacement after a flood event.

After inspection, the licensed electrician can help explain what you’ll need to do next to keep your home or office safe and within the fire code regulations.

Do You Need To Replace Wiring After A Roof Leak?

Some roof leaks and gutter problems that allow excess water to saturate parts of your home or office can cause major damage to your wiring. It’s especially concerning if your building has older wiring which might be prone to loose connections and minor arching incidents at the outlets and fixtures.

It’s best to have a licensed electrician inspect all water-affected areas after they have been thoroughly dried. If you need to rip out a wallboard, drywall, or flooring to prevent mold or repair water damage, it’s wise to wait for an electrical inspection before completing the remodeling repairs.

Does Water Damage Affect Electrical Appliances

The sad fact is that a lot of electrical appliances are badly damaged by water. Especially if the appliance was plugged in and the circuit was active at the time of the water intrusion. Here again, the appliance might work for a while once it is dried out, but there is a high probability of corrosion and potential damage to components.

You might find that it works normally for a few days or even weeks after it dries out, only to fail again, start smoking, short circuit, or even start an electrical fire later. So, it’s always a good idea to have all electrical appliances, light fixtures, and associated outlets inspected by a professional, licensed electrician.

When in doubt, you might need to replace the compromised electrical appliance after suffering water damage. Though this might be covered by homeowner’s insurance, commercial property insurance, or flood insurance coverage.

Is There A Way To Reduce The Risk of Damaged Wiring From Floods

If you live in a low-lying area, or one that is near a body of water that is prone to flooding there are some things you can do that might help reduce the risk of damage to your electrical wiring caused by floods. This starts with basic waterproofing and making sure that you have adequate flood insurance on the property.

Another thing to consider is raising the height of your outlets and electrical fixtures. This somewhat straightforward process involves cutting new holes in your drywall and installing receptacle boxes, before patching up the holes left by removing the old electrical boxes. At that point, new electrical wires are run to the new location, and new outlets are securely connected and tested by plugging in a device or using a multimeter.

Though this is the sort of procedure that should only be performed by a licensed electrician. If you attempt this kind of major electrical reconfiguration on your own, and it results later in an electrical fire, chances are good that your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover the damages.