Fire is probably not the first thing you think of as the result of flooding, especially not months later. Following the major flooding that swept through Mission Valley, Sorrento Valley, and many other areas of San Diego during the wet season in 2016 corroded wiring in an business park set off a trio of small electrical fires within these buildings that caused immense property damage. For this reason we here at Clean Earth want to take a moment to talk about factors that can lead to these fires.
It is important to remember, that any electrical device that has been submerged in water is a danger and must be replaced. The danger and fire hazard these damaged devices can cause, is not worth trying to salvage and use them. If you have to think about the safety of still using the device, it most likely should be replaced. Some examples of electric devices that should definitely be replaced immediately are outlets, switches, breaker boxes, appliances, heaters, furnaces, and AC units (anything that contains electric motors, switches, or wiring should be replaced as soon as possible).
Another big problem for electrical devices involved in a flood is from the mud that is found in flooding water. The mud in the water can find itself deep in your electrical devices and cause overheating, shortages, Flood waters contain mud that can deposit in these devices causing overheating, shortages, and mechanical failure. These deposits might not even be noticeable to most people checking their after flood damage, but the build up can still be there and still pose a serious threat. Mud isn’t the only problem found in flood waters either, these waters can contain a variety of toxic substances from surrounding soil. When heated, these substances can release carcinogens, allergens, or even poisonous gases. If that isn’t enough to worry you, the reactions created from these substances being heated can even be flammable!
As dangerous as all that is, there is a more immediate hazard. When a flood occurs damaged electrical devices may cause electrical sparks which can cause shock in the water and create fires when combined with a gas or fuel leak. When first assessing a flood, identify and examine the main electrical service. This will either be underground with a conduit (this is to protect the wires from water and external damage) leading up from the ground into the breaker box , shutoff, or entry point through the exterior wall; or located above ground with wires coming from a pole to mast extended above the roof of the building. For safety, the electric meter should be removed directly after a flood has occurred to prevent the wiring from being energized by generator use in neighboring buildings.
After a flood, we suggest you document any electrical devices that have been damaged (by water or otherwise). Even if you don’t have flood insurance this documentation may be valuable for use with FEMA or other aid agencies. We here at Clean Earth Restorations will also be able to use it to prepare any precautions needed, to see the full extent of the flood damage, and start restoring your property as soon as possible.
If you have any concerns or questions after a flood has occurred, we always recommend to…
Call the Professionals
Flooding can be much more dangerous than most people often think. Make sure you leave the recovery to the professionals. If you are worried about the effects of flooding on your home contact us today. Our team members will be able to assess the damage and deal with the problems these events may cause.