Do electrical switches, connections, receptacles, and wiring need to be replaced after flooding?
In the majority of cases, wiring will not need to be removed and replaced after a flood. However, before making that determination, a thorough inspection by a qualified electrician may be required. First, stand on a dry spot and use a dry wood stick to disconnect the main electrical switch and all circuits at the panel box. If there is no main switch, turn off all circuit breakers or remove all fuses. Unplug all appliances that have been flooded. As soon as possible, remove all standing water from the structure, and dry out the interior as much as possible. Also, remove interior wallboard 12 inches above the maximum flood water height, remove any water-soaked insulation, and dry out wall cavities to preclude any water in the walls from continuing to soak into wiring and receptacles.
Then, have a qualified electrician do the following:
•Remove cover plates from all electrical outlets, receptacles, wall switches, and breaker or fuse boxes to inspect wiring and terminal connections.
•If the main box got wet, clean and check it.
•Check switches and outlets and their boxes for mud and dirt, which can cause a short or overheating.
•If there is a lot of mud, dirt, or salt water corrosion in switches or outlets, replace them. Look for broken electrical fixtures or exposed wiring.
•Replace all dimmers and electronic implements such as ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), and arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCI). Smoke detectors and thermostats that were immersed should also be replaced.
•Check the condition of wires that go to each switch and outlet. Replace any fabric-covered wire. Any aluminum wiring that has been flooded by salt water should be replaced.
•Have a qualified service technician inspect water heaters, furnaces, heat pumps, air handlers, water softeners, and all appliances and HVAC equipment. In many cases all such items should be replaced.
•Flush out boxes with clean water or air pressure; dry out and spray with cleaner/lubricant.
•Check continuity and grounding of all circuits, and check for electrical shorts. Check to ensure that all terminal connections are tight.
•Turn on each circuit, replace each fuse one at a time, and test each circuit. Make sure all ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) are functioning.
•Test the operation of all smoke detectors and of the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.