Water Damage and Electricity: What to Do First

electricity and water

If your home has undergone any kind of water damage – from a flood to leaks through the roof or burst pipes in the basement to excessive moisture – there is a chance that your electrical system or wiring has been compromised.

Even in cases that don’t seem like a big deal, the combination of water and electrical systems can have more severe consequences than you think. Whenever there is even a suspicion that water has come into contact with a house’s electrical supply, we strongly urge caution. When it comes to electricity, it is always better to be safe than sorry!

If your home has suffered water damage, here is what to do first when it comes to electricity.

The very first thing to do is to cut off the electrical supply. To do this, you must go to your home’s electricity source, the electrical box. If for any reason you are not able to get to the electrical box, call a professional and certified electrician. Again, there is no need to put yourself at risk of electrocution, and professional electricians have the tools and resources to do the job safely.

After the water has subsided and it is safe to be in your home again, you will need to bring in an electrician to assess the damage. All wiring that has been exposed or submerged in water will generally need to be replaced. It’s important to remember that exposed wires might seem fine to the naked eye, and may even seem to function fine at first, but may still pose a threat over time. It may take months for the wiring to fail entirely, which creates a fire risk – the last thing you need after a flood!

It is important to assess any appliances or electronic devices that may have been exposed or submerged in the event of water damage.

As a precaution, if you suspect that water damage is on the way (a storm approaching, for example), it is a good idea to go around your home, especially your basement, and unplug any devices or electronics that are currently connected to the electrical system. If you can store them in a place that will be protected from potential water damage (in a bedroom closet on the top floor), it is worth the effort.

After the event, and after the inspection, be cautious when next using your electrical devices. If you notice a spark when plugging them in or if they are acting strangely (the lights brighten and dim unexpectedly or there seems to be a surge or lull in function), unplug and discontinue use immediately.

In Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, the weather can be extreme. Severe storms can brew and if you live near the water here or anywhere, it’s always best to have a plan in place in case water damage affects your home.

Always remember to disengage and be cautious if there is a chance that the electrical system has come in contact with water. Call your certified electrician to come in and assess the damage.