Electrical Connection urges caution in flood areas impacting electrical systems

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The Electrical Connection IBEW/NECA partnership is reminding residents in flooded areas to be wary of shock hazards around their home and carefully check credentials of any company offering repairs.

The Electrical Connection, a partnership between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) says most immediately, people should never walk into their flooded basements because water could be electrically charged.

IBEW/NECA electrical contractors will again work with government officials, residents and businesses to ensure electrical systems damaged by the recent flooding are made safe.  Residents and business owners need to be aware some electrical systems compromised by the flood may have to be inspected and repaired.

Residents and business owners should always use licensed electrical contractors for new electrical installations and electrical repairs.

IBEW/NECA contractors are dedicated to strict adherence to the National Electrical Code to ensure safe electrical systems. The Electrical Connection offers the largest data base of licensed electrical contractors at its web site: www.electricalconnection.org.

TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS
AND BUSINESSES

The Electrical Connection offers the following tips to homeowners and businesses:

  • Always ask for credentials to ensure the repair service is fully licensed.
  • Never enter a basement with standing water that is in contact with electrical systems.
  • With the immense volume of rain, water has been able enter homes from faulty rooftop flashing to basements and in many cases the water trickles down electrical cables into fixtures. These fixtures, while they may look dry, should be inspected.
  • The nonmetallic-sheathed cable (Romex) wiring used in most all dwellings has a paper-type material on the inside that will absorb water. Even though the appliance or outlet may look dry, the wiring may be completely wet.
  • Any flickering lights may be a sign of hidden water damage and not be used until inspected and repair.
  • Flooded sockets will have to be replaced as the waters could corrode the device and insulation.
  • All dishwashers, laundry machines must be on ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) circuits.

INFORMATION FOR ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS

St. Louis County Chief Electrical Inspector Rick Hill also issued a notice to licensed electrical contractors which includes the following important information:

  • Know that electrical equipment and wiring that has been submerged must be replaced. There is no approved method of cleaning/restoring the majority of electrical equipment encountered in areas prone to flooding and the cost of recertification to original specifications can exceed the cost of replacement in some cases. The cleaning process itself can damage the equipment.
  • Some large electrical equipment (usually medium voltage) may be cleaned and restored according to the manufacturer’s instructions and the NEMA standard. Testing by a recognized third party must be the final part of the restoration process before power will be turned on.
  • Inspections will be required before power is turned on and permits will be required. The permit requirement helps to keep out the storm chases that often take money from property owners and do poor work, if any work is done at all. By the time the owner figures out what happened, the storm chaser is long gone. The permit also ensures that the work is performed by a company that is licensed, bonded and insured so there is a level of accountability.
  • You should not assume power is off in a building that was flooded. Power is cut to some and not to others. Just because power is currently on in a building does not mean it will stay on.

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