What Happens if an Electrical Outlet Gets Wet?


Water and electricity are a dangerous mix, and getting an electrical outlet wet can be a scary situation. This could happen due to a variety of reasons – a flood, spilled drink, or even an overzealous DIY project.

What happens when an electrical outlet gets wet? In this article, we'll explore what happens when moisture enters an electrical outlet and offer some tips on what to do if you find yourself in this scenario. With a little bit of knowledge and caution, you can protect yourself and your home from any potential risks.

The Dangers of a Wet Outlet

When moisture comes into contact with electrical outlets, it initiates a process of rust and corrosion that can put your safety at risk. The rust and corrosion act as insulators, which disrupt the flow of electrical current and create excess heat. While one of the effects of this is a dysfunctional outlet, wet electrical outlets can cause many other dangers.

Dangers of a wet outlet include:

  • Short circuits
  • Internal wiring damage
  • Electrical fires
  • Burns
  • Electrical shocks
  • Death

How Do Outlets Get Wet?

There are many ways for an outlet to get wet. Sometimes it comes from weather or day-to-day activities around the house.

Examples of how moisture enters outlet include:

  • Flooding
  • Rain
  • Cooking with liquids
  • Using the bathroom sink
  • Water from a roof leak

Moisture can enter outlets in a variety of scenarios. What’s most important is that you know what to do in this situation to keep you and your loved ones safe.

What to Do if You Get an Outlet Wet

1. Turn the Outlet Off

A GFCI outlet, or ground fault circuit interrupter is specifically designed to protect you from any electric shocks or electrocution. Not only does it shut off automatically when there's a disturbance in the electrical flow, but it also provides added protection by shutting off when water is present.

This safety feature can save lives and protect your electrical appliances from water damage. In addition, the outlet can be turned off manually by pressing the reset button, which can be easily accessed on the outlet. You can also check if the GFCI outlet was turned off correctly with a voltage meter.

2. Shut Off the Breaker Box

Next, you will want to completely shut off the breaker box - regardless of whether the GFCI outlet is functional or not. This is particularly important if there are other wet outlets or fully submerged outlets in the house. By turning off the breaker box, you can eliminate the risk of getting an electrical shock and safely dry out the affected outlets.

If the breakers in the box are labeled, turning off the one supplying power to the affected outlet is the way to go. For unlabeled breakers, use a trial-and-error approach can help locate the right breaker. Remember, safety always comes first, and taking the right measures during an electrical emergency can make all the difference.

3. Let the Outlet Dry Off

After dealing with water damage, it's important to be cautious around an electrical outlet that may still be wet. It may be tempting to check if the outlet is still functional, but it's important not to directly touch it. This could lead to an unpleasant and potentially harmful shock.

It's best to let the outlet dry off completely before attempting to use it again. If you want the process to go faster, you can try using a blow dryer to speed up the drying process.

4. Consult With an Electrician

Lastly, you’ll want to contact an experienced electrician. Even if the water exposure to the outlet seems minimal, it's always best to be cautious. An electrician will be able to examine the outlet and determine the best course of action to ensure your safety.

If the amount of water in the outlet is significant, the electrician may need to repair or replace the outlet altogether. It's essential always to prioritize safety when it comes to electrical hazards, and calling in a professional is the best way to do so.

Contact Our Electricians

Whether you're experiencing outlet troubles or other electrical issues, Lightning Bug Electric can be here to help. Our skilled electricians are experienced in diagnosing and solving a variety of electrical problems.

With our exceptional service and commitment to safety, you can trust Lightning Bug Electric to meet all of your electrical needs. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at (404) 471-3847 or reach out to us online today!