Here’s What To Do After Storm Related Electric Damage.

Severe storms often leave behind several types of damage. Storm related electrical damage can create electric shock and fire risks. Every year, house fires account for about 1,400 injuries and 500 deaths. Electrocution is a common cause of injuries and deaths in commercial settings. Although there are not as many electric shock injuries and deaths in homes, the risks can be higher after severe storms.

Common Types of Electric Damage From Storms

Lightning, wind and flooding are some of the most common sources of electric damage from a storm. These are some of the common types of electric damage, their risks and tips for what to do to mitigate those risks.

Power Surge Damage

Although many people know there are power surge risks associated with lightning strikes during storms, there can be surge-related damage when storms pass. Lightning or wind can cause widespread power outages. When the electricity is out even after the bad weather has passed, there is still a surge risk whenever the power is restored. Electrical surges can cause damage to appliances, electronics and some other items connected to outlets. A surge can also trip a circuit breaker, which is supposed to help protect the electrical system when installed correctly.

A lightning strike is much more powerful than a surge from electricity being restored. Smoke marks near the electric panel can indicate damage to the wiring from a lightning strike. Also, there may be hot spots. These are especially dangerous since homeowners cannot see them. Hot spots are damaged parts of the electrical system’s components or wiring that become hot. Loose connections and overloaded circuits are common causes of hot spots, which are also serious fire hazards if they are ignored. Professionals can use thermal imaging to detect hot spots behind walls.

Although appliances and electronics may survive a power surge and still work, their cords or wires may be damaged and make them unsafe to use. In some cases, that damage can lead to an electrical fire. Surge protectors can help protect some devices and their cords from damage. However, not all surge protectors prevent damage.

These are some post-storm safety tips to follow:

  • Keep appliances and electronics unplugged if there is still a power outage.
  • Have the HVAC system and appliances inspected if they may have been damaged by lightning or a power surge.
  • If lightning strikes the property, have a professional inspect the electrical system before trying to plug in and use electric-powered devices.

Do not try to unplug any appliances or electronics that are on or near a wet or flooded floor.

Power Line Damage

Strong storms can lead to damaged or downed power lines. Knocked-over power lines present major dangers whether the ground is wet or dry. This is especially true with the lines that are normally placed higher on utility poles. Any power lines that are damaged can be dangerous, and this also applies to coated lines that hang low and enter homes.

Whether power line damage is to a wire on a utility pole or to one entering a home, it is important to address it immediately. These are some safety tips for dealing with damaged power lines after a storm:

  • Never drive over a power line that is down.
  • Stay at least 30 feet away from any power lines that are down.
  • If branches or other items are touching a downed power line, stay 30 feet away from them as well.
  • When noticing a downed power line nearby, move away from it by shuffling and keeping both feet on the ground.
  • Instead of trying to approach or touch someone who is near a downed power line, call 911.
  • Call 911 immediately if there is a downed power line outside.
  • If a power line looks like it may be damaged or is sparking, call the power company promptly.

Flood Damage

Water increases the risk of electrocution when there is electrical damage. In some cases, a source of electric damage may be under the water. Even outlets and cords that are submerged in a flooded basement can be extremely dangerous. Water and silt can damage components like switches in the electrical system. This is especially true in coastal areas since saltwater leaves corrosive residue.

Never walk into an area that is flooded or has standing water. Call a professional to handle post-storm flood damage when there are electrical risks.

Wet Appliances and Electrical Equipment

Many people do not realize all the dangers indoor flooding can present for electrical equipment and appliances. Even if there is standing water on the floor and no electrical current going through it, turning on devices can change that. Motors of refrigerators, freezers, laundry machines and furnaces are often damaged by water. Keep in mind that an appliance can be dangerous to use even after it dries. When an appliance is reenergized without being inspected, it can shock a person and cause serious or life-threatening injuries. It can also cause the appliance to short-circuit and stop working.

These are some safety tips for dealing with wet electrical equipment or appliances:

  • Do not plug in the device even if it dries completely.
  • Call a professional to inspect any appliances that were wet during the storm.
  • If there is water around an appliance that is still plugged in, do not enter the area to try to unplug it.

Always assume that any standing water after storms could have an electric current. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association provides a full and detailed guide about how to handle water-damaged electrical equipment and appliances. The guide is available for free download and outlines which items may be reconditioned by a professional and which ones should be replaced. It covers some safety information about motor circuits, lighting fixtures, electronics and more.

Who To Call for Electric Repair

The key takeaway from the previous sections is to call a professional for addressing post-storm electric damage. However, one dilemma property owners encounter is deciding which type of professional to call for different problems. The power company has limited responsibility for electrical components, and those are usually outdoors. Also, there may be multiple types of damage that warrant the need for multiple skill sets.

When To Call an Electrician

Electricians usually discuss their rates and can provide an estimate before doing any electric repair work. Call an electrician for these issues:

  • There is any type of electrical damage or suspected damage inside the home.
  • Lightning struck the home or property.
  • There are smoke marks near the electrical panel.
  • There is flooding in the house and potential electrical damage.
  • Appliances were left plugged in during a lightning strike or power surge.
  • A circuit breaker is tripping frequently.
  • The lights randomly dim or flicker.
  • Outlets or switches in the home are hot to the touch.

When To Call the Power Company

The local electricity provider is typically responsible for the electrical components installed by utility workers. For these types of problems, call the power company:

  • There is a sparking or damaged power line or generator.
  • There is a damaged utility pole.
  • The glass electric meter outside is broken.
  • Outdoor service wires or connections are damaged.

When To Call Appliance or HVAC Technicians

It is often necessary to call HVAC or appliance technicians after storms leave water damage. These are some issues to contact them with:

  • Call an appliance repair company if appliances were left plugged in during a lightning strike or power surge.
  • Call an appliance repair company if appliances have water damage.
  • Call an HVAC technician if any system components were damaged by flood water.
  • Call an HVAC technician to inspect electrical components if they may be damaged from power surges or lightning.

Consider Electrical Upgrades

Severe storms and their aftermath can make property owners reevaluate their need for electrical system safety features if they lack them. This can be an ideal time to consider some upgrades and improvements. When the electrician arrives, these are some upgrades to ask about and consider.

Smart Home Devices

While the ideal scenario is to be home when severe weather hits, some people cannot be home when it happens to unplug electronics and appliances in advance. Today, there are several types of smart home devices that can potentially minimize damage risks. For instance, there are smart plugs for appliances. They work like surge protectors for appliances, and they can be turned off remotely using a smartphone app. This gives people who cannot be home a way to turn off some appliances before a storm hits. There are also smart power strips and smart lights that can be controlled remotely.

Old Fuse Boxes

Some homes still have outdated fuse boxes. Residential electricians can replace old fuse boxes with modern electric circuit breakers. In addition to requiring less maintenance than fuse boxes, circuit breakers are more reliable.

Outdated Wiring

Older homes can still have aluminum wiring, which is dangerous. It expands and contracts at higher rates, and that can lead to loose connections. The outlets in homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to be fire hazards. Electricians can replace the old aluminum wires with new and safer wiring.

Damaged or Insufficient Outlets

Many old homes have two-prong outlets, which are not grounded. While there are converter plugs, they do not make the outlet safer. An electrician can replace old outlets or install new ones if a room has an insufficient number of outlets. Overloading outlets is dangerous. Also, there may be outlets that are loose, sparking or have other damage. Electricians can replace these hazardous outlets with new ones to reduce fire or shock risks. Some professionals recommend GFCIs as well for rooms where a wet floor may be a potential problem.

Professional Surge Protectors

Whole-house surge protectors can help provide better protection than power strips. Electricians can properly install whole-house surge protectors.

Backup Generator

Some severe storms come with lengthy power outages. Food spoilage is a common concern most property owners share, and an adequate generator can help keep refrigerators or freezers running. People who have refrigerated medications, oxygen machines or other items they need to protect their health should especially consider a backup generator. An electrician can recommend an adequate one for each person’s needs. In addition to having the right size and type of generator, proper installation is critical to prevent backfeed. This is when power is sent back into the lines and can electrocute a person.

Storm Damage Electric Repair in Frederick, MD

For any post-storm electrical damage, call Wenbrooke Services. Wenbrooke provides a full range of electric repair and installation services. Also, Wenbrooke offers HVAC repairs, appliance wiring, generator installation and more.