This winter looks to be a rainy one in many parts of the country, and if you start to find signs of a leaky roof, you might think that all you have to do is move things out of the way and call a roofer. However, you may need to call an electrician as well -- and that may be a more urgent task. Roof leaks obviously damage the ceiling and walls, but the dripping water doesn't just stick to the drywall. It can create a massive fire hazard, too.
Wiring Protection Isn't That Protective
Like other materials, the protection around electrical wiring -- be that insulation or a box around circuit breakers -- can break down over time. It's not unusual to find corrosion, holes, cracks, and other defects in circuit boxes, and insulation is often a target for rodents looking for something to chew on. All of this can expose wiring and circuits to water that might be leaking into the ceiling or walls.
Leakage Current Risk
Water creates something called leakage current. Water itself doesn't do a good job of conducting electricity, but rainwater -- full of minerals including minimal salts -- is very attractive to electrical currents. Walters Forensic notes that the current will start traveling through the water when it comes in contact with exposed wiring, and this will lead to a gradual accumulation of more salts in the water. Eventually, the current traveling through the water becomes strong enough to generate heat and create something called a carbon bridge, which can lead to arcing and fire.
How to Turn off Electricity
Roof leaks are common, and you normally don't see people panicking over a small drip. But if the dripping becomes extensive, with several leaks in the home, or the water is near a switch, outlet, breaker or fuse box, or other fixture, then you need to call an electrician and have him or her turn off the electricity and investigate. Because of the risk of electrocution, don't touch the circuit breaker or fuse box yourself.
If you're dealing with leaks now or are worried about what to do should you find one, talk to an electrician today. He or she can inspect boxes and accessible wiring to check the integrity of the insulation and boxes. If there's a problem, he or she will be able to correct it now, before the onslaught of heavy rain. Contact a company like Dr Electric for more information.