Cleaning and Drying Switchboards and Electrical Controls: Part 3

16 April 2019


The switchboard to your telecommunications system has become flooded, along with various electrical controls in your business.  What are you able to do? Is there a way to clean it up and dry it out, or are you going to have to invest in an entirely new system? We have good news: you can salvage it (for the most part) by following these instructions.

Clean and dry it

First and foremost, you must thoroughly clean and dry out all of the control equipment that came in contact with flood waters.  It is important to remember that you need to dismantle most, if not all, of the equipment in order to get it completely clean and dry.

Once this is complete, be sure to inspect the operating coils and thoroughly dry them.  Drying them is extremely important.  Once this is complete, dip them in insulating varnish, then bake them.  If you do not have an oven to do this, give them a few more coats of air-drying insulating varnish. 

It is important to also check all the contacts.  Make sure they are clean, free from dirt and silt, and dry them.  It is also important to check all moving parts.  Ensure that they are able to operate freely and easily.

Cleaning oil pans and oil switches is a must

Oil pans on starters and oil switches must be cleaned and dried out. This is because oil is meant to lubricate all moving parts.  If water to gets mixed in with the oil you run the risk of causing microscopic pitting.  This translates into wear of the surface - just like excessive mechanical wear.

In addition, water more than likely will cause additives in the oil to deteriorate. This could prove to be extremely detrimental since most oils these days are comprise of viscosity index improvers, sliding friction lubricators and corrosion inhibitors.   So carefully cleaning and drying out the oil pans and oil switches before adding oil back into your equipment is paramount.

It is also important to remember that once you start to refill the pans, the oil must be of proper dielectric strength.  Insulating oil can be tested in full conformance to ASTM standards with an appropriate oil test set

If the insulating barriers surrounding the oil pans and switches are wet they need to be dried out.  Once dried out they need to be assessed for damage or warpage.  If this is the case, then they must be replaced.

Repair or replace meters and relays

Although it is possible to have the meters and relays reconditioned at either a manufacturer’s service shop or by the factory where they were created, we suggest simply replacing them.  It will be a lot less expensive and save you time and aggravation.

Bus insulators and control wiring on switchboards

Bus insulators and control wiring should not be ignored.  Remember that all bus insulators and control wiring on switchboards should be cleaned and dried thoroughly.  If this does not get done, things will short out.   

To know that your cleaning and drying efforts have worked, we suggest an insulation resistance of at least two megohms per 1,000 volts operating potential, with a minimum of two megohms, should be obtained before energizing.  This is a very basic and universal insulation requirement and can be performed with any good quality megohmmeter.

Standby batteries should also be checked for their readiness to come online using a battery impedance tester.  Battery straps should be checked for corrosion or excessive resistance with a low-resistance ohmmeter.

Doing it yourself will save you time and money

By taking some time, assessing your situation and following all of these steps, your switch board and electrical controls should be up and running in no time at the fraction of the cost of what it would be if you were to replace your entire system.


The next part of this series will focus on cleaning and drying out transformers after a flood. Review Part 1 and Part 2, or view the entire series of tips on page 28.