There are a few household appliances that, because of their large size, are usually installed directly on the floor surface. With the basements and crawlspaces that are subject to flooding, such installations become very risky, and it would probably make sense to either elevate those appliances on some kind of a platform or relocate them to the first floor to prevent the possibility of water damage.
Some or all of the electrical and gas components (depending on the design) in water heaters, furnaces, washers, dryers, dishwashers, ranges, etc. are located in the lower part of the appliance enclosure. Often, even just a few inches of water might compromise those parts, making the operation of the appliance hazardous.
Yes, you’re right: this may not happen. Just like the cell phone you’ve dropped into the sink, and after a few days of drying, it started operating again. But you’ve lost warranty on it now – cell phone manufacturers will have proof because there is a little sensor inside the phone which changes color after being exposed to moisture.
Flood damaged household appliances are unlikely to have such sensor, but because their electrical and gas components have been designed to operate in a dry environment, submersing them under water might cause unexpected problems, eventually leading to electrical shock and / or gas explosion.
It’s just like with a flooded car, even if it runs for a while, its electrical wiring and other components will start corroding and deteriorating, eventually causing the car to stop running, possibly even start a fire. It might happen after a week, month or even a year.
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When you see “have it replaced ” in the “flood damaged household appliances” listings below, it applies to the whole appliance, and not just the parts. In many cases it might actually be cheaper to install a new appliance than have all the compromised parts replaced (unless you’re capable of doing it yourself).
This article was written by Dariusz Rudnicki
I'm a retired Illinois home inspector, founder and editor of checkthishouse.com, a blog which attracts around 2 thousand readers daily and is dedicated to answering the many questions of home owners and home buyers. Connect with me on Google+ Find me on Google+ Local