How a Hurricane Affects Your Electrical System

When hurricanes and tropical storms make landfall, they become major news. If you don't see the devastating effects first-hand, chances are you watch as they play out on the news.

In Florida, the Atlantic's hurricane season can last from the beginning of June through the end of November, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The after effects of a hurricane or a tropical storm may mean that you have downed trees, flooding inside of your home and much more. And then there are the electrical issues.

When the lights go out during and after a major storm surge, you may have problems that you don't even know about. From the flooding waters to the winds, hurricanes and tropical storms have plenty of ways to damage your home’s electrical system and appliances. When the storm has moved out and the clean-up begins, you may need an electrician to help with repairs.

What types of electrical issues are common after a hurricane or tropical storm? Take a look at the types of problems that can arise and what an electrician can do for you.

Power Surges

A lightning strike and other storm-related issues can cause a power surge. This surge trips your breakers and shuts everything down. Don't try to tackle your possible electrical issues yourself. You may have electrical damage that requires a professional repair. Likewise, if flipping the breaker box off and on works but the circuits continue to constantly trip, it's likely you have electrical damage.

Keep in mind, you may still have damage even if you have surge-protection devices. Repeated lightning strikes during a serious storm may be too much for these devices to handle (in comparison to a regular non-hurricane storm). Don't assume that a surge hasn't fried your system just because you have protection devices. Wait for the expert to come and assess the situation before trying a DIY fix yourself.

Downed Power Lines

The whipping winds of a hurricane can cause major damage to electrical lines outside. Trees fall, lines snap and suddenly no one has electricity. Obviously, you wouldn't go outside and touch a downed line. Even though you don't have power to your home, that doesn't mean the lines aren't still live. Prevent fires and shock hazards by staying far away. Electrical professionals and emergency-response personnel can evaluate the downed wires and fix them correctly (and safely too).

In some cases, the downed wires might not be obvious. Damage down the street or around the block may affect your home. Flipping your breakers back and forth won't do anything if there's no electricity getting to your house. So how can you determine whether the problem is with your home or is coming from somewhere else?

A professional electrician can help you to evaluate the problem and figure out where it's coming from. Along with this, local officials may notify you (and other residents) of known issues. Talk to your neighbors too. If no one has electricity, chances are it isn't just your house. That said, a community-wide outage doesn't mean your home's electricity will immediately turn on when the outside wires are properly fixed. You may also have other damage that needs attention first.

Flooding Inside

Water-logged electrical lines cause problems. When the hurricane strikes and the water pours into your home, it can cause shorts and other damage to your electrical system. Never attempt to handle or fix wet electrical lines. Even if the lines look dry, they may still have moisture in them. Again, this is a time to wait for a pro to come and evaluate what's going on in your home.

Do you have storm damage? All American Air & Electric can help.