By ALLAN D. FRANCISCO
Manila, Philippines – It would really be nice if flood waters cleaned after themselves, bringing with them the silt, mud, and garbage they brought with them in the first place.
But of course that is not the case. After all, floods are like politicians. They come unannounced – although we have been warned about them – ravage everything, leave without saying thanks, and expect all of us to pay for all the damage.
Worse, their effects linger long after they had gone.
One of the more painful of these effects is seeing home appliances we bought with our hard-earned money far removed from their running condition and, in most cases, not repairable.
Even worse still, if the floodwaters that paid your part of the metropolis a visit was of the saltwater variety, you may also discontinue browsing through this piece. Most experts say home appliances submerged in saltwater are not repairable. Hence, our heartfelt expression of sympathy for our readers from Malabon and Navotas.
Going forward, keep in mind that electricity, yes, that stuff that powers up your LCD TV and smartphone, is a potential killer. Inside that benevolent, light-giving energy lurks a serial murderer. A mere drop of water is all it takes to unleash this maniac.
So, imagine what a deluge can do.
Before touching that widescreen TV and any of your most beloved home appliances, please be sure to turn off your home’s mains. It would be better if you would ask a professional to take care of this task.
After all, if a licensed electrician would inadvertently touch a livewire and get electrocuted, that is called an accident. In contrast, an untrained individual, like you and me, who touches something that emits lethal levels of voltage, is simply stupid and ignorant maybe.
After making sure that your home’s electric network is cut off from the Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) power grid, you may start taking a closer look at your appliances that currently seem like a bunch of truly liquid assets. But before touching even one power button, I strongly suggest checking your warranty cards.
Don’t tell me you threw away all those warranty cards together with all those styrofoam packaging. And the user’s manuals too?
Moving on, don’t ever give in to your strong urge to plug in your TV or any appliance for that matter. Your deep desire to catch up with what’s happening between Papa Chen and yaya Maya should never drive you to commit this worst mistake, which could fry electronics that might have survived the water ordeal.
Not all appliances are blessed with the ability to survive watery encounters. Some wither and die upon contact. Some, however, have this Neptunian tendency, which enables them to handle flooding with grace.
At this point, please be reminded that new appliances tend to be more efficient than their older siblings, especially those that have failed to make it into Noah’s huge watercraft. That is why, most technicians recommend replacing appliances damaged by water.
For those willing to throw money and efforts after the bad, there are things to consider when seeking to revive recently drowned home appliances.
If water penetrated the ref’s innards, you (or better yet, your technician) will have to sanitize the refrigerator or freezer. Check the motor and freezing unit, making sure they are in safe running condition. If insulation is wet, replace.
Remove all shelves, crispers, as well as ice trays. Wash them with water and detergent. Disinfect by rinsing with bleaching solution or other disinfectants.
In case of persistent odor, wash the interior with baking soda. Finally, use activated charcoal or a commercial ref deodorizer.
After the washers’ and dryers’ electronics have been checked and reconditioned, they can be sanitized by pouring a disinfectant into the washing machine. Run a 15-minute cycle.
Ideally, an electrician or appliance technician should be around to check all electrical contacts and connections.
To deal with small appliances, such as TVs and microwave ovens, you will need to unplug them, clean and disinfect them as well. Check them carefully and determine whether it would be worth the effort and money to have them repaired or simply replace them.
If you’re lucky, simply drying the appliance, while paying close attention to its electrical parts, will be enough.
Otherwise, be ready to spend some serious money on repair or replacement.
Seeing all your home appliances submerged in floodwaters is one of the worst experiences that can befall modern man. But a careful and reality-based assessment of their repair-or-replace status can help save us from some serious expenses and wasted time and effort.