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How to Handle Water Damaged Electronics

Electrical equipment that has experienced water damage can pose a hazard when turned on or used without being properly dried. Water damage to electronics can occur in a variety of ways, from high humidity in a flooded area to direct contact with floodwaters. Depending on the severity of the flood and type of equipment, some or all of it will need to be replaced.

Safety first!

Before you attempt to begin addressing your flooded belongings, remember the big picture--your whole home. A flood situation puts you at risk for electrocution if you make physical contact with floodwaters and your home is not fully disconnected from the grid. Never go into a flooded basement until a licensed electrician or emergency worker (such as from the fire department or utility company) has fully disconnected your home from the grid. Even if you’ve lost power during a storm, a neighbor running a generator could be enough to backfeed electricity into your home and put you at risk for electrocution.

We’re off the grid. Now what?

Unfortunately, most of the modern electronics we enjoy today are not capable of surviving immersion in floodwater, especially saltwater floods in coastal areas. When addressing personal belongings, remember to never power up water-damaged electronics. You risk causing an electrical short, and possible fire or injury.

You should plan on replacing water damaged TVs, gaming systems, tablets and other small personal electronics that were fully or partially submerged in floodwaters. Small home appliances such as window or portable air conditioners, lamps, and fans should also be replaced. Water damage doesn’t mean that these items can be tossed in the trash--they still should be recycled properly.

Water damage can occur to electronics without full immersion in water. High humidity levels as a result of flooding and inclement weather can also affect your belongings. In cases of water damage by humidity, the culprit is usually due to water in the air coming in contact with dust and debris on the surface of the appliance and forming “mud” on crucial operating parts like circuit boards. This “mud” can cause electronics to short out and malfunction. If you are sure that the item was never fully submersed in water, it may be possible to have it professionally cleaned.

If you are considering salvaging some of your electronics, especially larger appliances like washers and dryers or refrigerators, consult an appliance repair technician. Never attempt to power on these items yourself. Keep in mind, if the item was powered on at the time of submersion, the likelihood of salvaging the item decreases drastically. In many cases, the costs of replacement parts and cleaning fees for large and small electronics alike far exceed replacement costs.

If you are dealing with a severe home flood, you may also need to replace household wiring and other electrical components such as circuits, circuit breakers, fuses and fuse boxes, outlet receptacles, and light switches. A licensed electrician can evaluate and tell you for sure.

Remember to keep records of items that need to be replaced and fees associated with services provided by an electrician for your insurance agent. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the flood restoration process, call a professional water cleanup service like Roto-Rooter. Remember that Roto-Rooter will work directly with your insurance company to make this difficult time a little bit easier on you.

Roto-Rooter’s water restoration technicians are IICRC certified. They will perform water extraction; remove unsalvageable contents, such as carpet and other flooring, drywall, paneling, shelving, cabinets; and clean the affected areas before applying disinfectants and deodorizing agents. Roto-Rooter will thoroughly dry the structure and haul away harmful and water-damaged debris.

The water damage restoration professionals at Roto-Rooter are experienced at getting your home or business back to normal as quickly as possible and Roto-Rooter is available when you need service most, 24/7/365.