How Water Damage Affects Electrical Wiring

Dangers of Electrical Wiring from Water Damage

Is Electrical Wiring Susceptible To Water Damage?

Water damage is a common cause of property damage in the US. Proven Restoration LLC is a company that offers expert water damage restoration services. This article provides homeowners with information to make them aware of the results of water damage to electrical wiring and its dangers.

Electrical wires are any conductor, which is a material that conducts electricity. The conductor on household wiring is copper or aluminum. Most household wires are insulated and wrapped in a nonconductive plastic coating. Wires of different sizes carry different types and amounts of electricity. The gauge of a wire determines how much electric current it can take.

A cable is a bundle of two or more wires assembled in an insulator, like plastic.

Some Types of Household Wiring

There are different types of wiring and cable in homes and around them.

  • Nonmetallic (NM) cable has three or more individual conductors encased in a flexible plastic jacket called a sheathing. Each line usually has a hot wire (current-carrying wire), ground, and neutral wire. Almost all the wiring in light fixtures and outlets is NM cable in a modern home.
  • Armored Cable – Armored or AC cables are used in areas where NM cables are not permitted. This AC wiring has flexible metallic sheathing that offers extra protection for the conductors. AC cable is not used in buildings that are more than three stories.
  • Underground feeder (UF) cable -is designed for wet locations and burial under the ground without conduit and is nonmetallic. This is preferred for outdoor fixtures like lamp posts. It can also be used for significant circuit wiring. Like NM cable, UF cable has three wires, each in a solid plastic sheath, with an external gray sheathing.
  • Low Voltage Wire – These are used for circuits that require less than 50 volts, like doorbells, thermostats, and sprinkler systems.
  • THHN/THWN Wire – Standard insulated wires with single conductors, each with color-coded insulation. A plastic or tubular metal conduit protects them. These are used in areas like basements or garages and inside the homes for short exposed runs like connections for water heaters or garbage disposals.
  • Phone and Data Wiring – are low voltage wiring used for internet hookups and landline telephones. Telephone and data cables have between four to eight wires.
  • Orange/Red wires are hot wires that carry current
  • White/brown wires are neutral wire
  • Green or green-yellow wires are ground wires

The letters in the name indicate the properties of insulation:

  • T means Thermoplastic
  • H means Heat resistant
  • HH means highly heat resistant
  • W means rated for wet locations
  • N stands for nylon coated

When there is water damage to a house, damage or compromise to the electrical system is highly likely. This can be very hazardous. So, shutting the electricity off at the source is a priority whenever there is water damage. A professional electrician can be brought in to do this as safely as possible.

How Water Damage Affects Wiring

Water damage can cause deterioration that affects the insulation, current carrying capability, and mechanical operation of electrical materials and equipment. Operational failure of electrical devices like circuit breakers and fuses affects their function of interrupting power to circuits under abnormal operation or conditions. This can lead to hazards like fire and electrical shock.

Corrosive contaminants and sediments in floodwaters can severely affect the integrity of electrical equipment.

Dangers of Electrical Wiring In A Water Damaged House

  • Risk of Fire – Wires can be exposed or make contact they are not intended to make. This can cause heat to build up and lead to fires.
  • Risk of Electrical Shock – People can get electrocuted by handling damaged wiring or coming into contact with electrified equipment or standing water.
  • Damage to Home Appliances and Other Wiring – water damage can alter the circuitry and cause power surges and other malfunctions that can damage appliances.

Identifying Water Damage to Electrical Wiring

A professional replaces any wiring, or electrical equipment submerged or has been in contact with standing water. Outdoor wiring and equipment designed for wet locations might be safe, but a certified electrician can verify this.

Buzzing or humming sounds from appliances or wiring can indicate a rogue charge that can cause electrocution.

After Water Damage

All lighting switches and electrical outlets that were submerged are to be replaced. When replacing outlets, it is recommended to do so according to the National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements National Electrical Code (NEC) and any state or local codes that apply.

Any equipment that was submerged in water must be replaced. Electrical equipment like submersible sump pumps or well pumps suitable for submersion may not permanently be damaged by flooding. But this should be checked by a licensed electrician, especially if the water has contaminants or corrosive substances.

Electrical circuit wiring and branch circuit cables or conductors must be replaced if they are partially or submerged. Cables suitable for burial or wet locations or those unexposed to contaminated water may not always need replacement.

Switchboards and panelboards with uninsulated buses can be corroded or contaminated by exposure to condensation moisture and mold growth after flooding.

Water damage can cause severe property damage. Structural damage to buildings damages furniture, furnishings, appliances, and documents are all possible after water damage. It can be a devastating situation, and many homeowners get a professional water damage restoration company to help handle it safely and quickly. Electrical wiring can be affected by water damage with severe consequences. A licensed electrician must be called in to verify the injury and ensure that all electrical equipment and components are restored or repaired. Proven Restoration LLC offers water damage restoration and mold remediation services in Houston, Texas. They can be contacted at (832) 430-7320.