Most of us know that water and electricity together is a dangerous combination, so it can be quite alarming to see water running out of your electrical panel. While it’s a situation that needs to be addressed, you may be surprised to learn it’s actually quite common.
How Does Water Get into an Electrical Panel?
In most cases, rain is to blame for a wet breaker box. If the electric meter outside your home isn’t properly sealed water can run down the main electric service cable, also called the service drop, and all the way inside your house to the electrical panel. The cable that runs from the meter box to the panel has a hollow space inside that creates a perfect channel for moving water. Sometimes, water seeping through basement walls can get into the panel box, but this is less common.
Signs of Water Infiltration
The most obvious sign is you can see water inside your electrical panel or running or dripping out of it. Another common signal is corrosion and/or rust in the bottom of the service panel box or on the electrical terminals or circuit breakers. Ultimately, the corroded components can cause circuit breaker malfunctions and electrical fires.
What to Do if you Have Water, Rust or Corrosion in the Electrical Panel
Because water is a good conductor of electricity, don’t touch the breaker box if you can see water in it or coming out of it. Call a licensed electrician right away. An electrical contractor can replace the panel and circuit breakers. The service drop cable should be sealed to block further moisture infiltration.
Water intrusion through your basement walls is a bigger issue because it also impacts the structural integrity of your home, and should be addressed by a professional. Contact an electrician to move the panel box if It’s attached directly to cement or stone walls.