The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published a paper entitled, “Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment.” This publication provides information to building owners, maintenance workers, electrical inspectors, electricians and users of electrical products on how to evaluate electrical equipment that has been exposed to water through flooding, fire fighting activities and hurricane storm surge.

Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely hazardous if reenergized without proper reconditioning or replacement, as was a huge problem in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. Reductions in integrity of electrical equipment due to moisture can affect the ability of the equipment to perform its intended function. Electrical equipment damage can result from floodwaters contaminated with chemicals, sewage, oil and other debris, which will affect the integrity and performance of the equipment. Ocean water and salt spray can also be particularly damaging due to the corrosive and conductive nature of the saltwater.

A working knowledge of electrical systems and the equipment in question is needed to evaluate damage due to contact with water. The original manufacturer of the equipment should be contacted if questions arise or recommendations are needed. In many cases following water damage, replacement may be necessary. After consultation with the manufacturer, some larger types of electrical equipment may be reconditioned by properly trained personnel.

This revised publication provides specific guidance on whether products that have been exposed to water should be replaced or reconditioned as well as additional information so that the manufacturer of the equipment may be contacted.

A complimentary copy of “Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment” may be downloaded by visiting NEMA’s
Web site at www.nema.org/stds/water-damaged.cfm.                EC