Leaking pipes

Frozen and burst/compromised pipes prompt concern around electrical safety for homes and other occupancies in the aftermath of Texas storm

Last week’s winter storm in Texas left millions of people contending with loss of power and heat, and in many cases, frozen pipes. For residents whose pipes burst, understanding the potential hazards posed by electrical wires and electrical equipment that come in contact with water is critical to safety. 

Power should remain off until a professional electrician has inspected the entire home and all appliances, as water can damage the internal components in refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, causing shock and fire hazards. A qualified electrician can help determine what electrical equipment should be replaced and what can be repaired. In addition, people should always be directed to a qualified electrician if they have any questions or concerns around their home's electrical system. 

The impacts of the Texas storm have reached far beyond homes, however, with many industrial and commercial facilities also facing concerns about their building's electrical systems. For building owners and managers working to assess water damage, critical decisions need to be made about whether the electrical equipment can be salvaged or not.

NFPA 70B ChecklistNFPA offers a checklist to help highlight and simplify key aspects of this decision-making process. The checklist builds off recommendations in chapter 32 of NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance (2019 edition), which includes:

  • A list of disaster scenarios, which can inflict damage of varying degrees to facilities
  • Steps for assessing equipment
  • A priority assessment table
  • Steps to help identify factors for replacement or repair 

While the choice between repair and replace is not always an easy one, following these simple suggestions can help turn what can feel like an impossible task into an informed decision. 

In addition, NFPA offers its free “Natural Disaster Electrical Equipment Checklist” which serves as a valuable resource to community officials being asked for electrical information and assistance in the aftermath of a storm or other weather-related event.   

Last but not least, a Facility Executive article written by NFPA’s Derek Vigstol talks about how facility managers can prepare for, respond, and recover from a disaster. Vigstol says that it all starts with prep work leading up to an event, which includes creating a site-specific disaster plan. This helps ensure the least amount of down time and a speedy recovery.

Additional disaster-related resources for specialists tasked with protecting people and property from fire, electrical, and other emergencies, can be found on NFPA's disaster webpage, including bulletins, related code information, articles, and more.

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Susan McKelvey
Communications Manager

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