Can electrical wiring get water damaged?

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Electrical wiring can sustain water damage which may lead to insulation or termination failures, especially if exposed to polluted floodwaters. Damaged wires can be a significant safety hazard, potentially causing short circuits or fires.

If exposed wires get wet, they can exacerbate the electric current, posing a fire or electrocution risk. Unexposed wires, when wet, usually don't present immediate danger; they should be dried before reuse.

Major water damage to electrical systems necessitates immediate shutdown of electricity and consultation with a professional electrician. In essence, while unexposed wet wires might not be of immediate concern, exposed ones can be dangerous. Always prioritise safety and consult experts in the event of water damage.

Can electrical wiring get water-damaged?

Electrical wiring is a much bigger part of our lives than most people realise. So what happens if it gets wet? This article will explain what can happen if your electrical wires get wet.

Flood-damaged wires and cables should be replaced to provide a safe and functional electrical system. The components of wire and cable products may be harmed by mildew or corrosion if exposed to water or excessive moisture. Insulation or termination failures can occur due to this damage if the components have been exposed to seawater during storms or inland floods where there may be large concentrations of chemicals, oils or fertilisers. The situation can be more serious.

To establish if a wire or cable product has been exposed to polluted floodwater, a qualified individual, such as an electrical contractor, must evaluate it. When activated, the flood-damaged wire may not break down immediately. The wire may take months to break down due to floodwater damage.

What happens if exposed wires get wet?

Electrical wires usually comprise three different wires – a live wire, neutral wire and copper ground. These wires can become exposed if there is a break in the socket or the plastic coasting. If these exposed wires are damaged by water, there may be an issue.

As water can conduct electricity, the electric current can be exacerbated. Hopefully, this will only cause a short circuit, and your circuit breaker will stop the electricity. However, if your electricity does not turn off, the water can cause damage to the socket and create a fire hazard. 

If this happens, do not touch the wire. The wire will still be alive and conduct a lot of electricity. If you were to touch it, the electricity would pass through your body. Instead, manually turn your electricity off from your circuit breaker. If there is a fire, put the fire out, then turn the electricity off to prevent the fire from getting bigger. From this point, you must contact an electrician to replace the damaged wire.

water damaged electrical wiring
Water-damaged wires can be detrimental

What happens if unexposed wires get wet?

Unexposed wires getting wet is not as much of a concern as exposed wires. The most likely scenario of unexposed wires getting wet is that nothing happens. 

Unplug the wire from the socket and let it dry naturally. When dry, you can plug the wire back in, and the appliance will be back up and running. If you want to be extra cautious, you can get a portable appliance tester from a hardware store to test the appliance before starting it again.

What to do if there is major damage

You must do two things if your wires are majorly damaged from water. The first is to turn off your electricity immediately. As previously mentioned, water can exacerbate the conduction of electricity, and if left on, this can create issues. If you cannot find your circuit breaker or where to turn your electricity off, contact your electricity provider as soon as possible and ask them to cut it off.

The second thing you need to do is to contact an electrician. You should look for a locally trusted electrician to ensure no long waiting time, and they will do a good job. After they assess and fix the issue, ask them if you need to do any rewiring throughout the house.

So to answer the question, electrical wires can get water damaged. With this information, you should now know what to do if your wires are damaged, in a safe manner.

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