New Day Dawns with Water-Damaged Equipment

New Day Dawns with Water-Damaged Equipment

This piece was originally published as part of the “When Disaster Strikes” feature in the September 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Jack Lyons, Northeast Field Representative, NEMA

This equipment was completely submerged by salt water and left in service. Photo by Jack Lyons.

On a trip to New York City about a year after Super Storm Sandy plowed up the coast and wreaked havoc on the New York and New Jersey coastlines, I responded to a call from an electrical contractor in Brooklyn whose client ran a laundromat a few blocks from the shore. The contractor asked if I could offer advice on mitigating future exposure to flood waters.

It was an old neighborhood characterized by masonry brick buildings with basements. The area had been completely flooded with up to 12 inches of water above the street level. Since most electrical services were in the basements, the client’s service equipment had been completely underwater.

He wanted to protect the equipment from future storms. When I asked how he addressed the damage to the current service equipment, he replied that he had done nothing. He didn’t want to shut off any breaker, for fear that the power might not go back on.

I shifted gears and began to educate the business owner and the contractor on the effects of water (salt water in this case) on electrical equipment. They didn’t know about the serious damage that most likely occurred to the interior of one of the most important protective devices in the electrical system—the overcurrent device.

With NEMA’s Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment in hand, I helped them work out a plan to remediate the problems left behind by the storm.

In our everyday function as NEMA field representatives, we provide information when there is confusion in the field. This contractor never considered the fire consequences of leaving damaged equipment in service. It may have been just another day in the life of a field representative, but it was the dawn of a new day for the contractor and his client.

Read the September 2016 issue of electroindustry.

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