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Water Damaged Electrical Equipment

Posted by: Timothy Jarvis on Saturday, February 10, 2018

With the recent land falling of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many coastal and low lying areas have received wide spread water damage to many residential and commercial facilities electrical systems. This has not only resulted in damaged/destroyed electrical equipment but has posed an electrical shock hazard that has been a contributing factor to the loss of human life due to submerged electrical equipment and wiring. Before any evaluations or inspection are preformed the electrical current should be removed from the equipment and tested to insure that it has truly been de-energized.

There are many special issues when dealing electrical equipment exposed to water such as:  was the incursion salt water, fresh water or both?   Was the event from rain fall/ loss of overhead cover, or from rising or wind driven water? If from rising water, what contaminates were contained in the water: sewage, pesticides, petroleum products, corrosive chemicals, debris, etc. These factors will need to be carefully assessed to determine the condition and viability of the equipment.

Resources are available to qualified service personnel from the National Fire Protection Association, (NFPA, nfpa.org/disaster): Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, Chapter 32, and from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA, nema.org): Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment.