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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500015

Reconditioning Flooded Electrical Appliances

Do not try to use washers, refrigerators or other  large electrical appliances until they are checked by a serviceman. Attempting to run equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it. The manufacturer's authorized dealer has detailed information for inspection and repair of his particular equipment, and should be called for repair if possible.

Follow these general procedures if you must do your own repairs:

Motorized appliances (refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers)

1. Remove the electric motor, if possible, and take it to an electrical repair shop. If the motor can't be removed, follow instructions to recondition it.

2. Remove dirt from insulation and dry insulation thoroughly. Insulation may have been ruined from wetting. It may develop bad odors, or lose its insulating ability depending on exposure time in water. If so, the appliance will probably have to be discarded. Some newer sealed units may be unharmed by water.

3. Clean up outside of unit, and recondition the controls. Replace all bad wiring.

4. Clean gear housings and shafts in washing machines with kerosene. Clean bearings. Wipe metal surfaces with a kerosene-soaked rag to remove rust and dirt. Coat metal surfaces thinly with oil.

Heating appliances
1. Disconnect electricity and flush appliance with clean water.

2. Aerosol cleaning products (like Quik-Kleen) are available for cleaning hard to reach places in motors. Spray on parts and wipe or flush off. Do not use on contacts.

3. The insulation on hot water heaters may be soaked. Remove all panels, and if possible, the top of the heater. The insulation may never dry satisfactorily.

4. Clean and dry thermostat and wiring. Apply rust inhibitor to all metal parts.

Electrical cords
1. Throw away any damaged or fabric-covered cords.

2. Rubber-covered cords in good condition (with no cracks in the rubber) can probably be reconditioned as follows:

a. Remove connections from both ends
b. Peel back rubber covering until inside braid is dry.
c. Cut off damaged part of cord.
d. Clean up plug and receptacle; connect to cord or replace.

All metallic appliances should be grounded when in use to prevent electric shock. This is especially important with washers, dryers, ranges, waffle irons, dishwashers, portable drills, saws and grinders. Attach a wire from the frame of the appliance to a water pipe or to the ground wire in a grounded wiring system.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with reference from the USDA Disaster Handbook.

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This information is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon publication and may be printed verbatim with credit to MSU Extension. Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product or company.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

This information.was reviewed as of June 2008.  For more information about the contents please contact for webpage problems .