Care For Electrical Appliances Soaked By Rains Flooding

Jr. Bankston  |  6/11/2005 1:41:27 AM

News Release Distributed 09/03/04

Many appliances get wet when flooding occurs or when other storm damage strikes.

LSU AgCenter experts caution you should exercise care before putting those appliances back in service.

"Appliances that have been wet need to be treated with extreme care before reuse," cautions LSU AgCenter engineering specialist Dr. David Bankston. "The big consideration is ensuring the safety of the user."

Bankston says early care may be important in determining whether an appliance can be salvaged.

"But even if an appliance can be successfully put back into service, the flooding may result in reduced performance or reduced life of the appliance," he warns.

The LSU AgCenter engineer says appliances submerged by flooding, particularly in salt water, often are not repairable. On the other hand, appliances that get wet with rain water and have not flooded often are repairable.

"It is always most desirable to have these repairs made by a reputable service person," Bankston says, adding, however, "After disasters, individuals with such expertise often are very busy, so the owner of the appliance may find it necessary to make his or her own repairs."

Before working on any electrical equipment, be sure it has been disconnected from the power supply and that any stored electrical energy has been discharged, the LSU AgCenter expert warns.

“It is always best to check contacts with as volt meter before touching them, but if you are unsure if there may be stored electrical energy, at the very least create a short across the contacts before beginning work,” he says.

Bankston also cautions owners who want to repair an appliance to be sure all switches, contacts, motors and electrical wiring are flushed with clean water and allowed to dry for several days before reconnecting.

Spray-on drying agents are available to assist in the displacement of moisture in contacts, motors and so forth.

"Care also should be taken to be sure the appliance is dry and is properly grounded before reconnection," Bankston cautions, adding, "Appliances should be checked for electrical shorts by a knowledgeable individual to assure they are safe to use."

Appliances that are insulated, such as ranges, ovens, freezers, refrigerators and water heaters, need to have the wet insulation removed and/or dried in place. This can often be done by opening the frame of the appliance and physically removing the wet insulation, cleaning the cavity and replacing the old insulation with dry insulating materials, Bankston says.

Newer freezers and refrigerators generally use foam insulation, which will not require removal, he says, adding that on appliances where insulation cannot be removed, holes can be drilled in the casing of the appliance to help dry the insulation.

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Contact: David Bankston at (225) 578-2907 or dbankston@agcenter.lsu.edu

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