Using The Right Products For Your Appliances

After The Flood: Proceed With Caution When Assessing And Repairing Soaked Appliances

by Brent Hart

After your home has been flooded, you're eager to get inside and assess the damage to make everything right again. You may want to run each of your appliances right away to determine if they still work or if they'll need to be repaired or replaced. Don't do it.

The best decision is to call a professional, especially with gas-fueled appliances like ovens and dryers. If you want to do a preliminary check yourself before hiring a repair crew, or you believe you have the skills to replace or repair your own appliances, here's what you should know:

Wait a week

After your home has been cleared to enter, and when you are sure their are no gas leaks or electrical issues, you can do an external assessment of your appliances, but don't turn them on just yet. Any appliance that was submerged in flood waters should be allowed to thoroughly dry for at least a week before you attempt to start it. You can suffer a severe shock if you try to repair a water-logged appliance.

Washers, dryers and fridges that stood briefly in only a few inches of water should be fine, but inspect the dampened areas to be sure no switches, pilots or plug areas came in contact with water. If so, they will need to be inspected and replaced.

Refrigerators and freezers that have been heavily submerged are usually unsalvageable since their insulation and compressors suck up the fouled water. This water contaminates the lining and corrodes the compressor. Replacing either will often be more expensive than purchasing a new fridge.

Be safe and replace the essentials

If you decide to repair your appliances, expect to replace all motors, switches, digital circuit boards, gas valves and safety controls, since extremely damp conditions can damage any or all of these components. Make sure your power main is off or that appliances are completely unplugged before attempting any service on them.

If you decide to repair your dryer—one of the easier appliances to work on—you'll need to take the whole thing apart and then determine if you have electrical or solid state switches. The electrical controls may be dried off easily and still work in some cases, while the solid state circuitry may be harder to dry out and will probably need replacement.

Blast the debris out

Blowing out any debris in the gas lines of appliances is also recommended, and you can use compressed air to flush the lines more easily. Use the compressed air to clean out motors and other components in appliances if the flood water had a lot of junk floating in it.

Disinfect the interior and exterior of all appliances with a cleaning agent approved by the manufacturer, following all safety precautions to avoid spraying or dripping chemicals on any important components.

Rebuild it better

Now that you've had a flood, you know it's a possibility again. When you replace or repair your appliances, make them more flood-proof. Raise washers or dryers up on blocks or create a small flood wall around the laundry.

Place the HVAC unit on upper floors if possible, and raise outdoor AC units or heat pumps up on platforms. Also raise your main circuit breaker a foot or so, but be sure family members can still easily access it in the event of an emergency.

If flood waters breached your electrical switches or gas lines running to appliances, have an electrician or gas professional reroute lines to run above the flood stage.

A flood doesn't necessarily spell the end for your appliances, but you should proceed with caution when inspecting and replacing them after heavy water damage. If you have any doubts, call an appliance repair specialist, who will help you recover your household appliances if at all possible. They have experience with flooded machines and will help you make the safest decisions for your household as you rebuild.

Talk to a service like Better Homes Appliance Service to learn more.