Flooding & Major Appliances
The effects of flooding are well-known here in Houston; Hurricane Harvey means it is an important topic to revisit. When appliances get wet in flood waters, extra care is required to repair them before reuse. Also, note that any water damage can potentially shorten the life of an appliance.
Is it possible to prevent flood damage to large appliances like washers and dryers? Yes, to a certain degree, you can prevent flood damage by installing appliances on raised platforms—especially if you’ve experienced flooding in the past. You could also potentially elevate your home’s electrical system; LSU’s cooperative extension service recommends installing electrical switches and outlets 12 inches above either the 100-year flood plain or the level of the highest known flood at your location.
Unfortunately, appliances that have been completely submerged in floodwaters often end up being unrepairable—a complete loss. For both washers and dryers it is recommended to replace the appliance if it was submerged in flood waters; depending on the design, important components are housed at the bottom of both appliances.
After flooding, approach any electronics or appliances with care. Disconnect the power to the building, or the circuit that feeds the appliance, prior to unplugging it. It’s also a good idea to treat all appliances that might have been damaged by flooding as if they have been damaged by flooding—better safe than sorry.
If you’re not comfortable doing motor and circuit repairs, contact the manufacturer and/or a professional repair shop as soon as possible. For those so inclined, LSU’s AgCenter recommends:
- Disconnecting switches, contactors, motors, and wiring (make a diagram or list to assist during reassembly);
- Flush all parts of system with clean water and dry for several days;
- Use spray-on drying agents to displace moisture in contacts and motors;
- Reassemble disconnected parts using diagram;
- Ensure the appliance is dry and properly grounded before reconnecting.