Water dripping from your electrical panel is an alarming sight, but there’s no need to panic; it’s a lot more common than you might think. In this blog, electrical and heat pump repair company Tyler Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration LLC, shares a look at what causes water damage and corrosion in electrical panels and what should be done about it.
How Does Water Get Into an Electrical Panel Box?
Water typically gets into an electrical panel box through a poorly-sealed electric meter or service entry cable. Capillary action allows water to seep into small spaces without necessarily exposing the seal to sources of moisture, such as condensation or rainwater. Moisture can also enter the electrical panel box indirectly through the reinforcing fabrics on cable wires. If the outer waterproofing layer is damaged or frayed, moisture can be absorbed by the reinforcing fabric, which, like a candle wick, allows moisture to move into the electrical panel box.
Moisture can also get into the panel box through condensation caused by high relative indoor humidity levels. Water may seep through cement or masonry if plumbing that happens to be located above the electrical panel springs a leak. If you notice moisture from any of these sources, avoid performing repairs yourself. Instead, call an electrical technician, especially if you have an upcoming furnace replacement or other major house repair scheduled.
The Repair Process
The first thing an electrician will do during a service call is locate the source of moisture and determine the extent of the moisture damage. Corrosion and mineral deposits will have to be scraped off first. If the service panel is severely corroded, the entire box, including the circuit breakers, will have to be replaced. Damaged wiring will need to be replaced as well, and seals will have to be reapplied. In this case, you’ll have to make do without electricity for several hours.
As an additional precaution, your electrician may also recommend installing arc-fault circuit interrupters. These are functionally similar to ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), or electrical outlets with “test” and “reset” buttons on them that automatically shut off the circuits when dangerous electrical currents are detected.