Any kind of flooding places your electrical system at serious risk, requiring complicated repairs that should only be undertaken by trained professionals like us at A-Star Electric.
Unfortunately, basement flooding in Calgary is a common occurrence. There are many reasons why you might suddenly find your underground floor under water – some of which are avoidable, some of which are not.
Different types of building flooding include:
- Basement seepage. This occurs when the underground water table is extremely high, usually due to excess amounts of rain or very fast thaws after a winter of heavy snowfall. The water will eventually reach your foundation, as the ground simply can’t absorb any more moisture, making its way in through cracks or holes in your foundation, or where the joints of your building’s skeleton are.
- Sewer backups. Although robust, Calgary’s underground sanitary sewer system can only handle so much water. Sewer backups occur when sewers are overwhelmed, usually by intense amounts of rain or melting snow. Instead of draining safely away, sewers will back up into your home or business through its sewer line. An operational backflow valve can be very effective at mitigating sewer backups.
- Overland water. Perhaps the most uncommon form of flooding is due to overland water from overflowing nearby rivers. Overland water refers to water that has entered your home or business through aboveground windows and doors. It can be the most devastating type of flooding, as huge amounts of water may end up in your basement, pushed in with extreme force, and as with the Calgary flood of 2013 there are likely evacuation efforts underway, meaning you will have to leave and let nature wreak its havoc. Fortunately, there are now overland flooding insurance policies available in Alberta, which was not the case prior to 2013.
The home and business flooding suffered in 2013 was generally a combination of sewers backing up and overland flooding.
Steps to Take if Your Electrical System is Flooded
An electrical system that has been damaged by sewer or floodwater is not likely to be salvageable. Sewer and floodwater is contaminated with dirt and chemicals, which can settle on electrical system equipment, leaving a residue and causing corrosion. If you were to start up your system after being flooded, the chance of a shock or fire is high.
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles will immediately shut off when exposed to water, but this doesn’t prevent damage due to submersion.
The first thing you should do if your basement is flooding is immediately turn off your entire electrical panel using the large (most commonly black) switch at the very top. Live electrical currents exposed to water are extremely dangerous, as electricity can flow anywhere it wants and essentially turn your entire basement into an electrocution hazard. If water has reached the level of your outlets, leave your home immediately and contact ENMAX to turn off the power to your entire plot. Contact ENMAX to shut your property down even if you did manage to turn off your electrical panel, as they will need to ensure repairs have been carried out properly in order to restore service.
Repairing an Electrical System After a Flood
Only qualified journeymen electricians such as those of us as A-Star should undertake electrical system repairs after a flood. Circuit breakers and wiring will all likely need to be replaced, as well as outlets, switches, fuses, and transformers that were submerged. All electrical appliances and anything run by electricity that was immersed will also require replacement.
Install a Generator to Mitigate Damage
In addition to a backflow valve, installing a permanent generator can help ease the devastation caused by a flood. They can run sump pumps to rid your basement of water, and once your home is dry they will also run essential appliances such as your furnace, refrigerator, ovens, and lights, saving you from the expense of lengthy hotel stays, the discomfort of having to stay at a friend or family member’s home, the loss of ruined (and expensive) food, and damage caused by frozen and burst pipes.
Contact A-Star for All Your Electrical System Needs
A-Star Electric provides residential and commercial electrician services in Calgary including electrical panel and wiring upgrades and replacements, complete electrical installations, lighting design and overhead line services. Have a look at some of our favourite jobs for an idea of what we can do, and contact us if you would like to receive a qualified quote from our professional electricians.