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How to Repair Water Damaged Electrical Equipment

How to Repair Water Damaged Motors and Electrical Equipment: The Most Common Process to Help Restore Water Damaged Electrical Equipment.

Guide to Repairs for Water Damaged Equipment

Electrical Question: I’m trying to salvage an air compressor that was submerged, for about 6 hours, in flood water. The mechanical part (the pump) works fine. On the electrical side, there is a small 15 amp circuit breaker, a capacitor and the motor. The motor spins freely and looks fine but when I plug it into the 120Volt outlet and then turn the switch on, I blow the circuit breaker at the electrical panel!
What I’ve done so far:

  1.  I’ve disconnected the motor from the on/off switch in order to test the switch. The switch seems to be fine: it shows 120VAC at the motor side of the switch when it’s ON and no voltage when the switch is OFF, and all without blowing the circuit breaker at the panel.
  2.  I’ve tested the capacitor by using a 9VDC battery and it seems ok: when I apply the 9VDC and monitor using my volt meter, I see that the DC voltage immediately measures 9VDC and then starts to diminish. Also, when I remove the capacitor from the circuit (thereby, eliminating it), I still blow the circuit breaker at the electrical panel.
  3.  My visual inspection of the motor shows no rust or water in any part of the motor visible through the ports. It looks like it always did!

Can you please tell me what might be the problem here? I’d hate to have to throw this compressor out because everything is clean and moves freely.


This home electrical repair question came from: John, from Brick, New Jersey.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical repair question John.

How to Repair Water Damaged Motors and Electrical Equipment

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Qualified Electrician.
Tools and Testers Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester, Continuity Tester and Megger Meter.
Estimated Time: Depends on the complexity of the water damaged electrical equipment.
Precaution: Identify the circuit which provides power to the equipment, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any inspections and repairs.
Note: Water damaged equipment is best repaired by a qualified electrician or electrical contractor.

The Most Common Process to Help Restore Water Damaged Electrical Equipment

Water soaked electrical equipment can be restored when preventive procedures are taken such as the following:

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