Electrical Repairs After Storms & Floods

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How to Prepare For Electrical Storms or Floods in Brisbane

Flooding and storm damage can have major impacts on the electricity network and your home. Electricity can kill, so it is essential that you take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety, and that of those around you. While it is not always easy to be prepared for flooding or storms, here are some helpful tips:

Before a flood or major storm

  • Prepare your home by installing safety switches on all circuits in your switchboard, and test them regularly to make sure they are working.
  • Consider installing a surge protector to reduce electricity spike damage. They won’t protect from a direct hit, but will help with general power surges.
  • Have all important appliances running on surge protected powerboards. Good surge protecting powerboards also have a socket to protect your phone line or modem line (which is often forgotten in a home).
  • Consider getting an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or battery backup that protects against all of the major power problems including surges (high voltage), spikes (most commonly caused by lightning), brownouts (low voltage) and blackouts. In a blackout, a UPS provides battery power so you can avoid losing your work by closing your open files and shutting down your PC in an orderly fashion. UPS software is available that will close your open files and shut down your PC or network file server even if you are not in the office at the time.

  • Turn off and unplug from the wall critical appliances and appliances that are not in use. Nothing beats turning off critical appliances and unplugging them from the wall in an electrical storm (and unplugging your modem or phone line). If your computer is plugged in and not on UPS or a surge protected powerboard, then it’s vulnerable. It’s ok to use laptops or phones that are not plugged in during a storm.
  • If there is the risk of flood or water flow through the property, store the appliances in a safe place above the possible water level. Know that floodwaters can lift appliances like fridges and toss them around like corks in a barrel so choose non-moveable places such as kitchen benches, and inbuilt cupboard shelves.
  • Switch off your solar PV using the correct shutdown procedure.
  • Turn off your main switch (at the meter box) before any flood water arrives – if you can do so safely. Do not touch it if it has been under water

During a flood or storm

  • Stay clear of all electrical appliances, cables, lights or any conductive material.
  • Never operate appliances in or near water. Do not operate electrical appliances or switches while standing in water or when you have bare feet.
  • Stay away from your switchboard.
  • If your safety switch or circuit breakers have tripped during a flood, do not reset them but call an electrical contractor to test the wiring.
  • If you have solar panels, do not get on your roof unless absolutely necessary, and stay well away from the panels and cables. Solar panels generate and supply electricity to homes and commercial premises. Because they are powered by the sun, they continue to supply electricity, even when the mains power has been switched off. This means that even if the street power has been disconnected from a house or place of business, and the main switch turned off, there may still be live cables within the building which, due to flood damage, may present a risk of exposed live electrical parts.
  • Don’t use any fixed wire phones as they can transmit an electric shock.

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What should you do if your home gets a direct hit by lightning?

Being directly struck by lightning is as rare as winning Lotto (but a whole lot less fun). Most homes don’t have lighting rods installed purely because the risk is so low compared the price of installation.

If you are unlucky enough to be struck, lightning always looks for the easiest way to the ground. If it strikes on or near your home, it will race down your electrical wires, your phone lines and your water pipes to reach the ground.

If your home is hit your first priority, after ensuring that all your family and pets are safe, should be to deal with any fires that may result. We recommend calling 000, as fires may be within walls or ceilings and not obvious at first glance.

The shock waves from the sound could also have shattered windows, cracked your walls and blown plaster off your walls, so you may be surrounded by debris or shrapnel.

Before you attempt to turn any power back on, give us a call to inspect your switchboard and then go through and inspect each circuit and appliance for any damage.

Unfortunately, even if your appliances have escaped the initial explosion, you may find problems develop with them over the coming months. The massive high voltage that flowed through damaged the circuit, which can then create intermittent faults or your appliance to break down faster than expected.

After a flood or storm damage

  • If your premises have been inundated over electrical wiring, power outlets or other electrical installations (including switchboards), organise a licensed electrical contractor to check the premises as soon as flooding or water has abated. Do not touch them and do not attempt to unplug them or test them in any way.
  • All electrical appliances affected by water should be inspected by a licensed electrical contractor before use. No matter whether the water on an appliance came from a flood, or through general storm damage, never turn on the power to an appliance until it has been checked first.
  • Do not touch or attempt to turn on or off your solar panels until they have been checked by a licensed electrical contractor.
  • If your electricity was disconnected during the flood, the Distribution Entity (Ergon Energy, Energex etc) will need a certificate of test, clearing the premises for safety, from an electrical contractor before they will reconnect the power.

Your Distribution Entity is only responsible for the wiring up to the connection to the house. From that point on it is the premises owner’s responsibility to ensure wiring is safe. You must engage an electrical contractor to ensure that your home is electrically safe. Never try to undertake this work yourself.

Tradesmen On Time has worked helped rectify flood and storm affected homes after many emergency events in Brisbane. We have a wealth of knowledge about working in disaster affected areas, and satisfy the stringent electrical repair requirements of the insurance industry. TMOT is sensitive to the issues surrounding getting disaster affected homes repaired, and are the people to talk to when it comes to getting the electricals of your home, or those of loved ones or friends, repaired after a flood or storm.

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What to do to get your electricity back on after flooding

Every home affected by floods needs to be electrically tested before it can be deemed safe and power can be restored.  Here you will find information on what steps you need to take in order to get electricity back up and running in your business or residence.

  1. Energex must attended the property and complete a ‘Form 3’, this will be left in the meter box. The form 3 outlines any electrical defects that Energex finds on this property as a result of flood damage.
  2. Tradesmen On Time, (Member of Master Electricians, and fully licensed and Qualified) can then complete your electrical inspection and test
  3. Tradesmen On Time will the complete the ‘Form 2’ and a ‘Certification of Test’. This will then be given to Energex.

Home owners with appropriate insurance cover are able to reclaim the cost of having an electrical contractor perform the necessary checks.

Customers without insurance cover need to pay the electrical contractor, but many home owners are eligible to claim those costs back through State Government flood relief funds.

Master Electricians have also stressed the importance of not allowing unlicensed workers or DIY handyman to interfere with water-affected electrical fittings and appliances, saying the risk to human life was just too great.

“More people were killed as a result of electrical accidents after 1974 than were killed in the floods themselves. There is a very real risk that even homes that appear safe could have hidden electrical dangers.  These may not appear for weeks or even months after the flood has receded, but if they remain undetected they could cost the life of a loved one. … We urge home owners to engage a licensed contractor to check their properties and to test appliances that have been inundated. Please do not rely on friends, family or unlicensed handymen to perform this highly specialised work.”

After you have been flooded or damaged by a storm, it can be hard to know where to start. The QBCC has a great guide on rebuilding after a flood. Definitely worth reading!

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