Apart from the structural damage, appliances and furniture can also be permanently damaged after a flood. While smaller appliances can easily be carried to a higher story to prevent it from being flooded, the heavy refrigerator is often left in its place; taking the brunt of the flooding.
A flooded refrigerator is expensive to repair as the compressor was most likely submerged and thus its electronics are compromised. Apart from that, you’ll have to deal with molds and the water-soaked insulation lining the fridge cabinet.
In this article, we will go over what you should do to your refrigerator once it is flooded, and if it will be wiser to repair it or totally replace it.
- Possible damages on a flooded refrigerator
- Are damages on a flooded refrigerator covered under your warranty?
- Can a flooded refrigerator be repaired?
- What to do after your refrigerator is flooded
When you re-enter your house after major flooding, you should take the following precautions:
- Do not switch on the circuit breaker yet
- Do not plug in and use ANY appliances yet
- Have your house sockets cleaned, dried, and checked by a qualified electrician
If there is still standing water in your home, wash it out before you switch on your circuit breaker. Always remember to put safety first!
Possible damages on a flooded refrigerator
The damages to your fridge caused by the flooding can be extensive. Here are the most common ones:
The water and mud may have gotten inside your refrigerator’s compressor. Aside from corroding the compressor, the dried mud can clog its parts, preventing it from operating.
This is a serious problem, as replacing the compressor is expensive and complicated. Most experts agree that you should scrap and replace your refrigerator rather than spending more money to replace it.
The inverter board is located on the lower side of your fridge. This circuit board is sensitive, and it may be totally destroyed once it gets submerged in water. This will render your refrigerator unusable.
If the compressor is still usable, but the inverter board isn’t, you can call a technician to repair and replace the board.
Dirty condenser coils and fan
The condenser coils are located at the back of the fridge. For manual defrost models, the coils are exposed at the back. For no frost models, these coils are placed beside the compressor; also, it has a fan sitting beside it to help cool it down.
If the caked up mud is left on the coils, it will prevent proper heat exchange from happening, leaving your refrigerator unventilated. The mud will also prevent the condenser fan from spinning.
Wet and moldy insulation
The cabinets of your refrigerator are surrounded by foam-like insulation that prevents the warm air outside the fridge from affecting the cold environment inside.
After a flood, this insulation will get soaked. Worse, it will take an obscene amount of time to completely dry up. This leaves it susceptible to mold growth which will rot your refrigerator from the inside.
If the walls of your refrigerator are colder than normal, then its insulation is most likely water-logged. The insulation is caked between the refrigerator’s walls; it cannot be replaced. Unfortunately, you’ll have to replace the entire refrigerator.
Are damages on a flooded refrigerator covered under your warranty?
Unfortunately, floods are considered to be an “Act of God”, and thus it is not covered under the warranty. They will not replace your refrigerator, and they are not even liable to fix your unit.
Can a flooded refrigerator be repaired?
Most technicians will agree that it will be wiser to just replace your refrigerator once it is flooded. It will be costlier to further drain money into repairing your fridge.
You should take into account the following factors before you decide to repair your flooded refrigerator or totally replace it:
- Time elapsed in water – the longer it is, the more unlikely your fridge can be repaired.
- Age of your fridge – if it is nearing 10 years old, then it may be wiser to replace your fridge altogether.
- Warranty – if your unit is still young, remember that the warranty may be voided for the rest of its life.
- Corrosion – floodwater is muddy and unsanitary, and will rust up the parts of your fridge; this will lead to expensive repairs later on.
What to do after your refrigerator is flooded
If the flooding is not severe – say, only a few inches inside your house – then your refrigerator may still be salvaged. Do the following procedures to prevent further damage to your refrigerator:
Sanitize and deodorize
Remove all the contents inside. Toss spoiled food into the bin, and take out the shelves and cabinets.
Wash the shelves in a water and detergent solution, and then sanitize and deodorize with a mild bleach solution. Wipe the interior and exterior walls of the fridge with the same solutions as well.
Clean the condenser coils and fan
Remove the back panel of your fridge so that you can access the condenser coils.
Hose off the mud in the condenser coils and clean it with a brush. Wipe everything off with a towel quickly.
For the condenser fan, try to remove it from its place and take off as much mud and debris as you can. However, the fan motor may already be destroyed at this point and should be replaced.
Note: Try not to use soap when cleaning the coils. If not properly rinsed off, it can harden into scales and will hamper the ventilation of your fridge.
Call a technician ASAP
Even if you did your best to clean and fix your refrigerator, it will be a wise decision if you call a technician to give your fridge a once-over to check if your unit is in a good working condition.
Floods are unfortunate events that disrupt the lives of many. If you know what to do during and after a flood, it will help a lot in ensuring your family’s safety and minimize damage and expenses – especially on your refrigerator.
- Hellevang, K. (n.d.). Flood-Damaged Furniture and Appliances. North Dakota State University. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood/home/flood-damaged-furniture-and-appliances
- Janeway, K. (2018, September 14). What to know about Water-Damaged appliances. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/appliances/what-to-know-about-water-damaged-appliances/
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.