My wife & I live about seventy feet (altitude) above the
neighbouring land but still part way down a hill. As a result of
problems with water flow we got flooded twice. I’ve also had to
repair electrical & electronic gear that has been flooded.
If the gear has really been soaked then it may not be salvageable
but you can try. Some suggestions will make people wince but they
have been used successfully.
If the gear is still in the water or very wet, consider putting them
in a container of clean water until you are ready to work on them -
totally under water - open any panels etc and let them get totally
flooded. If they are covered in water, then corrosion damage is
going to be less than if they are only half dried out. Rust will not
occur on a totally wet item. The rule with expensive cameras that
had been dunked was to put them in a plastic bag of water & take
them to the repairer like that & it still applies. Remove any
Next get alcohol or the proper electrical solutions used to clean
motors etc but leave no residues. As you dismantle equipment ensure
that you make plenty of diagrams of wiring and screws etc and note
the positions of screws and the length of them. Poking screws
through a piece of cardboard with notes will help to keep them
together. One screw that is a little too long in the wrong place can
write off a piece of equipment & manufacturers may use many
different length screws of the same appearance & thread in an item.
Mark wires & parts as required with a permanent marker. Wash items
in soapy water then clan water & then use alcohol or proper
solutions to dry them off. Remark any markings that may disappear
when you use alcohol or solvents!
Clean and thoroughly dry as you go. Motor windings and armatures can
be put in the oven at a very low heat for a few (or several) hours
to dry them out. A hair dryier or heat gun on VERY LOW heat can also
help dry items.
Circuit boards that are really “dirty” with flood water crud can be
put in the dishwasher WITHOUT any detergent. If there are buzzers or
relays (little plastic cases with a tiny hole in them) then the hole
is best covered with a good tape to give it a bit of waterproofing.
If the item is a relay that the case will come off without
difficulty then remove the case and let it get a clean.
Check bearings as you disassemble and write down the bearing sizes.
They may need replacing and it helps to not have to strip the item
to order a bearing. Rotate the bearing and feel for any roughness. A
couple of temporary methods to get a bearing working even if it is
only long enough to see if the motor is OK. Plastic seals can often
be popped off and some grease or oil used to re lubricate the
bearing. If the bearing has metal seals then a trick that was often
used by electrolux door to door salesmen can be used. Drill a small
hole in the seal and use a syringe or something to put some grease
or even just a little oil in. This may ease up the bearing but it
will not last long.
When testing equipment ALWAYS use a Earth Leakage (Ground Fault
Interrupter) device. If there is too much moisture or another
problem, it will trip and save the equipment. You may have made a
mistake or need to dry it out more or… Similarly, a circuit
breaker trips so much faster than a fuse so circuit breakers are a
great help too.
Lastly, if items are rusty, there is a easier and better method than
nasty chemicals or wire brushing etc. This will even work with
massively rusted items. It is the “electrolytic” rust conversion
method and it turns severe rust into a fine black rust that can be
brushed off. A light wire brushing is often all that is needed. It
works by passing a small electric current through a solution and
actually reconverts the rust. A small battery charger will supply
all the current needed and it works great without a lot of elbow
grease. Use washing soda in the solution as it works well even if it
takes a while & is far safer than lye. Although the FAQ mentions a
stainless steel electrode DON’T use a stainless steel electrode as
that makes the old solution poisonous. See the following link.
A dehumidifier also works well if you can get a hold of one. These
are a basically just an air conditioner unit that is used to pull
the moisture out of the air. I found that one of them dried out
piles of tools faster than I could dry them off. I’d open the tool
boxes etc and start wiping them off but it was amazing how much
moisture the dehumifier could pull from the sealed room.