What to Do If Your Appliances Get Wet During a Storm or Flood
Published January 12th, 2023 by Manuel Escobar
With an increase in severe weather conditions, homeowners are worried about floods and storms causing major damage to their personal belongings, appliances, and their house overall.
Knowing what to do during severe weather conditions is crucial for your safety. The very first thing you should do is check on yourself and your family. Your own safety and your family's safety should always come first. Then, when you get your bearings, start focusing on your home. So much can happen during natural disasters, whether it’s a flood, hurricane, tornado, or thunderstorm, here you’ll find out exactly what to do for your appliances after the weather returns to normal.
Re-entering Your Home
After ensuring your family is safe, you might want to move right back into your home. However, for your safety, you need to get a professional to inspect your home for any structural damage. After you’ve been given the all-clear by the authorities to step back in, it’s time to get to work.
Try to re-enter the home during the day so you do not need to rely on the house lights. Using battery-powered flashlights and lanterns is better than candles and anything gas-powered. Once inside, if it is safe enough to do so, turn off the main power. However, if you need to enter standing water to get to the main power, it’s best to get help from a professional and let them turn it off. You should never turn on or off any electrical power or appliances while in standing water.
Alongside turning off the main power, you should also turn off the main gas line as well. You should do this especially if you smell gas or suspect any type of gas leak. If you do smell gas, or can confirm a gas leak, turn off the gas and leave immediately. If possible, open all windows and doors prior to leaving the house. After this, contact your gas company or local authorities and do not re-enter unless told to do so.
After you’ve been cleared to enter and the gas and power have been dealt with, it’s time to check on your appliances.
Checking Your Food & Appliances
The first thing you should do is throw out any food in your refrigerators or cabinets that came in contact with the flood water. By the time the water has touched any food, it’ll be covered in chemicals and possibly sewage. So, for the safety of everyone, it’s best to toss all food that was contaminated. Even if the food was not contaminated and may look and smell okay, sitting food may not have been refrigerated properly due to possible power outages.
When re-entering your home and you find your basement or other rooms with appliances standing in water, do not enter to unplug them. Only enter the room if the main power has been shut off already. Otherwise, do not enter an appliance room with standing water. If your appliances aren’t in standing water but are wet, do not attempt to operate them. Whether it's clean or dirty water, it can damage the inner components of any appliance, especially the motors and wiring. It’s best to call a repair expert or technician to evaluate any damage. Before using the appliances, you need to make sure they are fully dry beforehand. This should go for any gas or electric-powered appliance.
If your appliances do suffer damage, you need to start weighing your options about fixing or replacing them altogether. A good rule of thumb is, the longer they have been wet, the less likely they are salvageable. So, if your washer and dryer have been wet for a few hours, they may work. On the other hand, if they have been wet or flooded for a week, it’s probably best to investigate other options. Something to note, warranties often are void for damages from floods.
Another likely scenario, depending on how long the appliances are in the water, is that they may have corrosion. Flood water is dirty regardless of if it looks clean, and there's a chance this dirty water can corrode the innards of your appliances. So, with all this in mind, it’s also time to consider the age of your appliances. Are they nearing their 10th or 20th year of service? If so, it may be time to replace them altogether and purchase new appliances. If they are new and can be fixed, then stick with them. However, if the cost to repair them is 50% or over the cost of buying a new one, you’re better off buying a new one.
With natural disasters being as unpredictable as they are, it’s always best to play it safe in the aftermath. Always do the safest thing, don’t rush your options unless highly necessary, and do what's right for you and your family. Food may be wasted, appliances may need replacement, and structural damage may come to your home. If ever possible, plan ahead and have a safety plan ready prior to any flood or storm. Something as simple as disconnecting appliances and other electronics before a major flood or storm is recommended with time.
As far as your appliances go, clean and save what you can after an expert has inspected them, and go from there. If you have questions about what exactly is under warranty, reach out to the manufacturers to see what they think and to help you in your decision-making.
If you find yourself wanting to replace and purchase new appliances, Airport Home Appliance is here for you with the largest selection of in-stock appliances in Northern California. You can always visit any one of our eight showrooms or browse online at any time.
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