It’s officially rainy season in Northern California. After a very dry summer, most of us welcome the rain with open arms. But, weather forecasters are predicting the very wet winter will cause possible flooding. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute (III) states, “about one in 55 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year.” So, as much as we need the rain, we need to be aware of the potential electrical hazards that can occur. Even a few little drips within your wall can eventually cause mold, fire, and structural weakness. Additionally, whenever wire and cable products are exposed to water or excessive moisture, there is a risk of a fire.
According to Walters Forensic Engineering (waltersforensic.com), this is how a leakage current can start a fire in your home:
“Leakage current occurs when water is in the presence of electricity. Exposed wiring, which exists primarily at connectors and switches, can come in contact with water. Since water conducts electricity, a current will flow through the water between contacts or from the live to ground or common. Over time, the water will accumulate salts which increases its ability to conduct a current. This current can eventually develop to a point where it generates a significant quantity of heat which begins to pyrolize and carbonize the combustibles in the area. This can eventually result in a situation where a carbon bridge is formed, creating a continuous arc or significant generation of heat. Ignition of surrounding combustibles can result in a fire. Fires have also been known to initiate this way in electrical boxes which become damp or wet.”
So, what should you do if you encounter water around your electrical components? As a general rule, electrical components and wiring should be assessed by a licensed electrician whenever they encounter any amount of water. Mildew and corrosion can damage components, causing electrical failure.
If you have standing water in your home, it’s important to exercise extreme caution. Do not enter your home if you believe any electrical components, including circuit breaker boxes, electrical outlets, or live wires are in water. Before entering, call your utility company and ask them to turn off the power in your home. Then, turn off your power locally as well. Next, call a reliable, licensed electrician to assess the situation and determine whether it’s safe to enter your home. You do not want to risk any sort of electrical shock. It’s also important to turn off your fuel oil, natural gas, or propane lines along with lines that lead to appliances.
Sometimes water-damaged occurs immediately and other times it happens over time. If you’re experiencing short circuits and improper operation, this is due to immediate damage. Corrosion and high resistance connections usually happens over time. Sometimes everything works great for a while and then fails a few months later. If your home has been exposed to any water or flood damage, you should call Main Stream Electric to determine the extent of the damage and how to safely proceed. We understand electrical safety and can give you the information and assistance you need to fix your home’s electrical wiring and components. Call us today!