Floodwater Poses Electrical Fire Risks For Northland Homeowners
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As Minnesota lawmakers try to agree to a flood relief package prior to meeting in special session, there’s a new warning out to flooded homeowners.
Moose Lake looks peaceful and picturesque now, but two months ago, the lake sent seven feet of floodwater into area homes.
This summer’s Northland flooding not only ripped up roads and bridges, but it also filled hundreds of basements and businesses with filthy water — trashing their electrical systems. Now, fire safety experts are warning people to get electrical inspections before it’s too late.
Wayne Peterson and his wife do not have lakefront property, but their basement shows the damage done by the lake.
June flooding filled what was a finished basement with seven feet of dirty floodwater, destroying precious antiques, appliances and — something we don’t always think of — the entire electrical system.
“Just to fix up the basement again, and I think he had $57,000 for that and that’s not counting any of our personal property,” said Wayne Peterson.
A big chunk of that is to replace all the receptacles, wiring and breakers.
“Every electrical device that went into the floodwater needs to be replaced,” said electrician Ralph Sandberg.
Sanberg says that’s because silt, oils and other contaminants can cause serious damage.
“If it’s full of contaminants, dust or debris inside it, it’s not going to trip if there’s a problem,” said Sanberg.
That can lead to serious electrical fires, especially come winter. It’s of particular concern in rural areas where oversight is less.
“If it drops to 30 (degrees) or 40 below and all of sudden … your furnace is not going to work, and that now you have got other problems,” said Wayne Peterson.
The Peterson’s skeletal basement has a lot of work ahead and replacing all the wiring is one job they won’t skimp on.