Electrical wiring is a very familiar sight in our everyday life. From appliances to giving electricity to a home, it usually is safe. However, wiring and water do not go together. Yet accidents can happen that result in water spilling on electrical wiring, and this occurrence is a hazardous one.
Can Electrical Wiring Be Water Damaged?
Electrical wiring is susceptible to water damage. Water can corrode the wires or even cause electrocution. Sometimes, the effects of water damage in wiring might not be seen immediately, especially in the case of concealed wiring.
Call a professional electrician immediately if you notice water damage close to electrical wiring. Various irregularities result from water damage in wiring, so if you are wondering, can electrical wiring be damaged? This article will thoroughly explain all about the topic.
What Happens If Water Gets In Wires?
If water gets in wires, it can cause massive damage throughout the house and even to appliances. The damages can vary from power surges to fire outbreaks. If the electrical wiring damage is not fixed, it can permanently damage devices, interrupt electricity, and even die from electrocution.
There are numerous effects of water entering wires, and they include the following:
1. Fire Outbreak
Water can cause the wires to corrode and become exposed. The wire exposure can result in two or more wires coming in contact and giving a spark. The spark can easily lead to a fire and damage the entire house, or worse, lead to the death of residents.
2. Electrical Shock
Handling of damaged wire can cause electrocution. The wet ground, when in contact with a naked wire, will cause a bad case of fatality. Using water-damaged equipment and tools are perfect ways to get a quick zap.
Wires are delicate metals. Like all metals, they corrode or rust when they come in contact with water and air. Corroded wires might not conduct electricity properly. They can eat out the insulation and get exposed too. Corroding leads to the malfunction of the wiring system or equipment.
4. Ground Fault
Water getting into wires can damage the electrical circuit system. When the circuit is bad, ground fault can occur. The ground fault causes electrocution when one touches the ground, wall, or equipment around the damage.
Can Water Travel Up Wires?
Yes, water can travel up wires depending on the positioning of the cables and the amount of water. If the water spillage is heavy, the water can travel up the wires. Water is an excellent electrical conductor. It can transmit current throughout where it spills on.
Water carrying charges is as dangerous as the wire itself, if not more. Suppose water emits from the electrical outlets, switches, walls, or ceiling. There is a good chance that there is water traveling along the wires. It is imperative to shut down the circuit breaker and call an electrician to fix all damages.
Can A Water Leak Cause An Electrical Fire?
A water leak can cause an electrical fire outbreak. The hidden leaks can drip water onto the wires or electrical fixtures, causing a spark. When water touches the exposed part of the wire or faulty wire insulation, it can result in a short circuit and sparks.
The sparks can start a fire. Water also causes corroding wires, wire receptacles, or wires in a box. Corroding wires can build heat due to low resistance. This heat, with time, can lead to a fire. Most times, if the resistance is too low, they may not be enough current to trip the circuit breaker. Without the circuit breaker, there is no interruption of current flow.
The best method to prevent an electrical fire from a water leak is by preventing it from happening in the first place. Leaky faucets, a watery kitchen, and sockets close to tubs and showers are dangerous. Sometimes, the default wiring section might be under rugs and carpets.
These locations make it easy for fire outbreaks. Endeavor to keep them dry. Always take precautions while dealing with water around wirings. They do not pose electrocution dangers. They can cause destructive electrical fires once you notice irregularities with the electrical wiring. Trip off the circuit breaker and call an electrician.
Should Electrical Wiring Be Replaced After A Flood?
Yes, replacing all electrical wiring after a flood is imperative to ensure a reliable and safe electrical wiring system. Exposure to wires to water cause damages like corrosion or mildew. The breakdown will, in turn, cause insulation and equipment failures. These problems are the primary reason for a replacement.
If the flood water is contaminated by impurities such as chemicals, oil, sewage, silt, fertilizers, or the water is salt water. The problem it causes becomes more severe. Saltwater is particularly corrosive and has high electrical conductivity. The toxins from the contaminated water can cause complete damage to the wires and appliances.
Completely replace NM-B dry location wires. NM-B wires have paper filters that take in contaminated water quickly. This water intake will cause complete wire failure. Do not use flood-damaged wires. Replace them for safety reasons.
Although some wires like THWN and XHHW wires are listed for wet locations, they may still be aftermath damages from flood such as corrosion and overheating. An electrician can purge these wires before reusing them.
Ensure to conduct an insulation resistance test before using the wires. Flood-damaged wires may not show signs of failure immediately, but eventually, they will appear. Thus it is preferable to replace all wirings than to purge and reuse them.
How Do You Dry Electrical Wires?
It is a general rule to replace electrical wires and their components when wet. But sometimes, the amount of water does not warrant a total overhaul. If one catches the sillage in time, they can recover the wires by drying them.
The main point of truly recovering a wire exposed to water spillage is drying it before any damage occurs. But, the drying technique does not guarantee that the wire will last as long as it would have. Eventually, the insulation will overheat and deteriorate, causing a failure. Drying the wires are only a temporary solution.
While drying water-damaged electrical wires, please be careful to avoid thermal damage. The drying temperature should not be more than 194 degrees Fahrenheit. One can use any of the methods below to dry electrical wires.
1. Natural Air Dry
This method is the easiest way to dry out electrical wires. Wipe down the water from the electric wires as much as possible. You can use a fan or air conditioner to aid air generation and speed up the process.
2. Infrared Lamps
Infrared lamps work perfectly great for drying electrical cables. They do not emit heavy heat and can be set at a suitable temperature.
3. Electric Heaters
You can use electric heaters to dry the cables. Ensure the heaters have a temperature control knob. While drying the cables, dry air is preferable because warm air contains moisture which will cause mist on the wires.
Drying should be done gently by blowing dry air around and in the electrical cable or slowly heating the cables under meager heat.
If you are not sure that the wires are completely dry, it is best to discard the cables and replace them entirely. Use an electrician for all electrical works. Doing it yourself is not safe without proper knowledge of electricity.
How Do I Keep Electrical Wires From Getting Wet?
Considering how damaging and dangerous water is to electrical wires, it is vital to take some steps to prevent them from getting wet. You can keep electrical wires from getting wet by doing the following things:
- Using Dielectric greased wires. These wires have grease that prevents water from sipping through the insulation.
- Use waterproof covers and plastic plug covers for the plugs and wires. The covers will prevent water from sipping in the event of a spillage.
- Use a weatherproof cover. A weatherproof cover is a cover for plus especially. It fits perfectly over the plus and protects it from water entry.
- Installation of a GFCI outlet instead of a regular outlet.
- Routine check for water pipe leaks and location of electrical sockets far from water sources.
How Do Identify Water Damaged Electrical Wiring?
Sometimes it is challenging to identify water-damaged electrical wiring, especially if you were unavailable when the water spilled or flooded. The wires are often concealed inside walls. However, they are signs to look out for. These signs include:
- Check for emission of a buzzing sound from an electrical wire. This sound signifies that the wire has a charge. If you hear this buzzing sound, do not go near the wire. Instead, trip off the circuit breaker first before handling it. If there is water around that area, avoid it too.
- A tripping circuit breaker in the main box can signal that an electrical wire is bad.
- Pools of water gathering around an electrical wire or outlet indicate water damage.
- If there is a pipe leak or flood, you will have water damage to the electrical wiring.
If any of the signs occur, there is a possibility that you have water-damaged electrical wiring. Ensure that you get an electrician to identify and replace the wires. This replacement is vital for your safety.
What Do I Do If I Suspect A Water-Damaged Electrical Wire?
If you suspect a water-damaged electrical wire in your house, shut off the electrical power source using the circuit breaker. Then call an electrician to fix the damages. If you spill water on a light fixture or wire, turn off the power source, clean up the water and allow it to dry properly before usage.
Suppose you notice a wet, exposed wire or one inside a pool of water. Turn off the main switch and call an electrician immediately. Do not attempt to remove the naked wire by yourself. You might get electrocuted.
In the event of a flood, switch off the power source at the main switch, unplug all devices and turn off all switches. Call an electrician to inspect all electrical wires and replace the damaged ones.
Water and electricity are two dangerous mixtures. They do not go together, and water damage is not to be taken lightly. It is not a do-it-yourself pet project. Once you notice a water spillage near or on an electric source or wiring, please turn off the main power switch, clean the area and allow it to dry.
If the electrical wire is damaged from water, do not try to keep using it. It is hazardous and can lead to severe damage and even death. Instead, call an electrician to inspect and replace all damages. It is preferable to be safe than sorry; electricity is not a child’s play.
I am Inemesit Etim and I am honest, reliable, confident, and responsible in my work. I am a highly talented, detail-oriented creative content writer with 3+ years of experience writing helpful content that gives value to readers like you. My articles are a product of intense research, both from personal experiences and from reading through the experiences of others. I love home improvement and I am glad I can help you improve the quality of your home and living experience.