Water Damage: Mold & Salt Water Inundation


...materials are completely unaffected by salt water, any cracks, scrapes or other imperfections in a sheath can expose the wire to salt, resulting in a short circuit between conductors or from a conductor to a metallic conduit. Additionally, over a long period of time, the corrosive effects can consume enough of the conductor to affect current capacity and in turn, safety. This is especially prevalent in un-sheathed ground conductors.

Finally, conductors that have been submerged will continually “wick” moisture and salts for months or even years after initial draining. The wicking can occur horizontally or vertically — including upward— and is very insidious. The consequence of this wicking is salt deposition on any component connected to the affected conductor. The resulting salt causes unexpected corrosion on newly replaced components connected to the existing, inundated conductors. (Figs. 4, 5)

Grounding and Bonding Components

Grounding and bonding components can be a forgotten subset of electrical conduits and conductors. These critical National Electric Code (NEC)-required safety system components are frequently overlooked because few expect them to carry current. It is only in the event of a failure that these associated grounding and bonding safety systems are utilized.

Unfortunately, this can also be the time when these components are first discovered to be compromised by the effects of salt water. Physical damage from the flowing waters, and incremental corrosion of critical components, can reduce the capacity or completely defeat the ability of the systems to route dangerous current away from personnel — as well as prevent fire from a short circuit.

Like other conductors, ground and bond wires can be attacked by salt water flowing between wire strands. Grounding busbar, terminal strips and metallic conduit, as well as associate clamps and fasteners, can also be compromised — all affecting system functionality and safety. (Fig. 6)

Fire Suppression and Water Supply Equipment

Components of fire suppression and water systems are as susceptible to the damaging effects of salt water flooding...

Fig. 7 — Section of ductwork that had been submerged in sea water during Hurricane Sandy. If the surface is not improved, additional drag from the roughened surface will affect system energy consumption.

Fig. 8 — Corrosion on the fasteners of this heat exchanger head may make removal difficult.

Fig. 9 — Corrosion-induced scaling of this rebar may prevent proper concrete adhesion unless properly cleaned.