Water conducts electricity. Sometimes, accidents or water damage can happen in the house, and the electrical outlets get wet. The homeowner is in danger of an electrical shock when the electrical outlets are wet. A wet electrical outlet is also a serious risk to the home. Here are steps to take when faced with a wet electrical outlet.
What causes a wet electrical outlet?
Water spills are the most common cause of a wet electrical outlet. This can happen if you spill water on your carpet or floor, and it runs down to the outlet. It can also happen when you clean your bathroom or kitchen countertops near an outlet, and some of the water splashes onto the outlet cover.
There are other reason why your outlet can get wet besides a spill. Moisture can seep into the electrical outlets from numerous sources. A severe thunderstorm can lead to indoor flooding when the sump pump fails. Several inches of water in the basement can reach the electrical outlets and be a cause for concern.
Homeowners are therefore advised to check the electrical outlets in the home after a fierce rainstorm. Specifically, inspect the outlets located near the windows and exterior doors. Look for dampness around the walls or along the floor near the electrical outlet.
Another common cause of wet electrical sockets is burst water pipes. The plumbing system winds its way through the spaces behind the walls. If a pipe bursts due to freezing temperatures, for example, the resulting moisture can trickle down and affect the electrical outlets in the walls.
Roof leaks are problematic, not only for the excess moisture they introduce into the home but because the water can drip onto power strips. Additionally, leaks originating from the roof and spilling over into the corners of a room can seep downward along the wall and meet the electrical outlet.
Electrical outlets in the kitchens and bathrooms can be impacted by splashes of water. A spill in the kitchen can cause water to reach the outlet and lead to sparks or a short circuit. Puddles on the bathroom counter can accidentally dampen plugs and introduce water into the outlet.
Why is a wet electrical outlet dangerous?
When water meets electricity, the outcome is danger. A wet electrical outlet is likely to stop working or may short circuit. If the homeowner touches the wet electrical outlet, he risks electrical shock or severe burns. Moisture can also ruin the internal wiring within the electrical outlet.
Using a wet electrical outlet is not advised, since it can lead to significant damage to household appliances. Short circuits resulting from a wet outlet can overheat wires—and spark an electrical fire. In general, the risks are high when an electrical outlet becomes wet.
What should homeowners do with a wet outlet?
If the electrical outlet becomes wet, the homeowner should turn off the GFCI, which stands for ground fault circuit interrupter, manually. To do this, simply press the reset and the test button simultaneously. The GFCI may turn off automatically when the flow of electricity is interrupted.
Homeowners further minimize their risk for electrocution and an electrical fire by turning off the power at the breaker box as soon as possible after coming across a wet outlet. If the breaker is labeled, flip the right one. If not, flip each breaker until the right one is found.
A digital multimeter is useful for determining if the power to the electrical outlet has been completely shut off. The purpose of the digital multimeter is to accurately detect and measure the amount of current moving through and out of the electrical outlet.
Shutting off the power at the breaker box is advised even if the electrical outlet has a GFCI rating or has stopped working altogether. If several electrical outlets are affected by moisture, then the homeowner should turn the power off at the main breaker as a safety precaution.
Large-scale water damage, such as from a major flood, can cause multiple electrical outlets to become wet. In such a case, shutting off the breaker box to the affected area is recommended. Ensuring the power is cut to the outlets is necessary before moving on to dry the outlets.
A minor amount of moisture on the electrical outlet is likely to dry on its own overnight. The homeowner should continue to keep the power to the wet outlets cut, then inspect them in the morning. Blowing a hair dryer on the wet outlet accelerates the drying process.
When the electrical outlets have been exposed to large amounts of water, the safest course is to replace them. Homeowners who find it challenging to dry the outlets due to excessive moisture should consult a professional electrician to dry, replace, or repair the outlets.
Dealing with a wet electrical outlet can be a hassle. Protecting the electrical outlet from exposure to moisture is the best solution. Homeowners can waterproof the outlets by sealing the edge of the mounts or keeping them plugged when not in use to prevent water intrusions.
Although homeowners may take extra precautions to protect their electrical outlets from getting wet, accidents happen. That’s why ServiceMaster by Replacements techs stand by 24 hours a day to respond to water damage issues. We provide quality water damage restoration to homes and businesses.
Our efficient water damage cleanup services are beneficial when properties become flooded, appliances malfunction, water pipes freeze and burst, or sewage backups occur. Water damage spreads rapidly, so it’s advisable to contact us immediately upon noticing the first signs of damage.
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