Steps To Ensure The Safety Of Your Home’s Electrical Service And Systems After A Flood

The electricity in your home can create a potentially dangerous situation following a flood. Depending on the severity of flooding, there may be problems with appliances, your home's wiring, or the electrical panel box. Consequently, there are immediate steps you should take until your home dries out and a qualified electrician, like those at Conway Electric, can perform a thorough electrical inspection and repair any damages.

  1. Open or remove the panel face plate on the panel box so you can access the main disconnect circuit breaker. Disconnecting the main breaker will turn off the power to your entire home. Look for the large double pole circuit located at the top of the panel. Some panel boxes are installed upside down, in which case the main breaker is located at the bottom of the panel. Flip the breaker switch to the "off" position to turn off all power.

    If you have a fuse box or panel instead of a circuit breaker electrical service panel, pull out the main power fuse near the top to disconnect power.

  2. Turn off all individual circuit breakers or remove the fuses. These control the electrical current to different circuits throughout your home. You will want them turned off when it comes time to reset the main circuit breaker. Move the levers of all branch circuit breakers from the "on" to the "off" position or unscrew and remove fuses. 

  3. Unplug all appliances -- both large and small -- in your home, whether or not they were flooded with water. An electrician can inspect and test appliances that were in water to determine if they are safe to use. Hot water heaters and heating and cooling systems are particularly prone to water damage during a flood. When it's safe for an electrician to enter your home, have him or her check your electric water heater and heating and cooling system, or the electrical components of a water heater and heating system powered by fossil fuels if that's the case.

  4. Once the flood waters recede, remove standing water from your home as quickly as possible. It's crucial to create a safe environment after a flood, especially if your home will require electrical work.

    Open all the doors and windows to help dry up the water. Use a water pump or wet/dry vacuum designed to suck up water. If flood waters did not rise above electrical outlets and switches and the main panel box, you may be able to restore your electric power. But if damage was severe and you remain without power, bail out the water if you have to. Check to see that the street gutters, which divert water to storm drains, as well as the drains in your home are clear of debris so water can recede faster.

  5. Hire an electrician to clean and check your home's electrical panel box. The electrician should check all circuits, look for exposed wires, and inspect all electrical wiring and receptacles for damage. If your home suffered major flood damage, parts or all of your home may need rewiring. In that case, discuss with the electrician the possibility of raising electrical sockets and the panel box to above the flood level where damage occurred.

  6. Replace any smoke detectors and thermostats in your home. Water and moisture cause corrosion that can damage the wiring and circuitry inside a smoke detector or thermostat. Even if they weren't under water, smoke detectors and thermostats can be unreliable following a flood.