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Immediate Steps to Take When You Find Water on Electrical Outlet: Safety and Prevention Tips

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Imagine you’re going about your day, and suddenly, you notice water on the electrical outlet in your home. Panic sets in as you realize that water and electricity can be dangerous. In this blog post, we will guide you through the immediate steps to take when dealing with wet outlets and safety and prevention tips to ensure your family and home remain protected.

Key Takeaways

  • Water and electrical outlets can be dangerous, potentially leading to electric shock, short circuits, and fires.
  • When you discover water on an outlet, turn off the GFCI outlet & switch the power at the breaker box, dry with a hairdryer or air blower & call a professional if needed.
  • Take preventative measures such as using covers, applying silicone caulk & installing waterproof tape in flood-prone areas to protect against severe weather.
  • If you’re ever in doubt, call an electrician in the Sydney area and make sure you take the proper precautions.

The Dangers of Water on Electrical Outlets

When water encounters electrical outlets, it can lead to disastrous consequences. The primary dangers of a wet outlet include electric shock, short circuits, and the possibility of electrical fires.

Grasping these risks paves the way for suitable actions to protect your household.

Electric Shock

Electric shock is a potentially hazardous electrical current that can cause burns, internal damage, and even fatal cardiac arrest. It can occur when touching wet outlets, as water conducts electricity and allows the electrical current to flow where it shouldn’t. Injuries from electric shock can range from mild pain and numbness to severe burns and life-threatening damage to blood vessels, nerves, and muscle tissue.

Steering clear of wet electrical outlets and promptly addressing the issue can help prevent electric shock. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and avoid touching any electrical components if you suspect there might be water nearby.

Short Circuits

A short circuit occurs when an electrical current deviates from its intended path, causing a sudden surge in power that can be hazardous to appliances and electrical systems and even lead to fires if water enters an outlet. Plugging an appliance into a wet outlet can result in a short circuit, potentially damaging the appliance, causing electrical shocks, and sparking an electrical fire.

Attempting to plug something into an outlet with water inside it can lead to melted wires, power outages, or overloaded electrical outlets, which can cause an electrical fire. When an electrical outlet gets wet, prompt identification and resolution of wet outlets is critical to minimising the risk of short circuits and potentially significant consequences.

Electrical Fires

Electrical fires can be caused by:

  • Water entering outlets, sparking and potentially igniting nearby materials
  • Faulty or obsolete wiring
  • Damaged extension cords
  • Overloaded powerboards
  • Faulty electrical outlets

When water gets into an electrical outlet, it can create a path for the electrical current to flow where it shouldn’t, potentially resulting in a short circuit, overheating, and an electrical fire.

Materials near the affected outlets that are more likely to ignite due to a spark from a water-logged outlet include:

  • Flammable materials such as furniture
  • Curtains
  • Wood
  • Other combustible substances

Preventing electrical fires requires maintaining dry electrical outlets free from any water exposure.

Common Causes of Water Entering Electrical Outlets

Water can find its way into electrical outlets through various means, such as:

  • Rainstorms
  • Flooding
  • Leaks
  • Inadvertent splashes during daily activities like cooking and cleaning

For example, indoor flooding caused by heavy rain can saturate electrical outlets with moisture, posing a risk of electrical shock or short circuits. Similarly, if windows are left open during a rainstorm, rainwater can enter the home and reach the electrical outlets.

Leaks in buildings can also result in water entering electrical outlets, causing disruptions in the flow of electricity and posing potential fire hazards. Additionally, everyday activities such as cooking with liquids in the kitchen or using water in the bathroom can inadvertently lead to spills and splashes that may reach electrical outlets. Identifying the source of water intrusion and implementing measures to prevent it is critical to safeguarding your home and loved ones.

What to Do When You Discover Water on an Electrical Outlet

When you find water on an electrical outlet, immediate action is required to limit accident risks. The recommended steps are turning off the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet, switching off power at the breaker box, and drying the affected outlet.

Each of these steps will be elaborated on further.

Turn Off the GFCI Outlet

A GFCI outlet is a special outlet designed to automatically interrupt the flow of electricity when disruption is detected, such as when exposed to moisture. Turning off the gfci outlets is necessary to prevent further damage and electrical shock. To deactivate a wet GFCI outlet, press the reset and test buttons concurrently.

Manually powering off a GFCI outlet is imperative. After doing so, it is recommended to use a voltage meter to test that the outlet is properly shut down. This ensures that the outlet is safe to handle and that there is no risk of electrical shock during the drying process.

Switch Off Power at the Breaker Box

Turning off power at the breaker box is a crucial safety step when handling wet outlets. The breaker box is a central hub for electricity in your home, containing circuit breakers that automatically shut off power to specific circuits when there is an overload or fault. To properly switch off power at the breaker box, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off and unplug all appliances in your house.
  2. Locate the main breaker in the breaker box and turn it off.
  3. If necessary, turn off individual breakers for specific circuits. To restore power, follow these steps:
  4. Turn the main breaker back on first.
  5. Turn on the individual breakers as needed.

Ensuring the suitable breaker has been deactivated before touching the wet outlet is critical to prevent electrical shock, burns, and possible fires. If the circuit breakers in the box are not labelled, it is recommended to turn off all of the circuit breakers or to do so one by one until the appropriate breakers are identified.

Dry the Affected Outlet

After the power is turned off, you should dry the affected outlet. A hairdryer or air blower is recommended for drying the outlet, as it can effectively remove moisture without causing damage. However, if there is excessive water inside the outlet or it takes an extended period to dry, it is advised to contact a professional electrician.

A complete shutdown of the breaker box is necessary before drying a wet electrical outlet. In some cases, replacing a water-damaged outlet may be a safer option than trying to dry it. A professional electrician can advise you on the best action for your situation.

Preventative Measures to Keep Electrical Outlets Dry

Preventative measures are necessary to mitigate the risks associated with wet electrical outlets. These include using outlet covers, applying silicone caulk, and installing waterproof tape around your outlets to protect them from water damage.

These measures will be elaborated on further.

Use Outlet Covers

Outlet covers are an effective and economical solution to prevent water from entering electrical outlets. They are simple to install and can be acquired from most hardware stores. Various types of outlet covers can be found on the market, such as duplex type and GFCI type covers, designed to be placed over electrical outlets to provide safety.

To install an outlet cover, turn off the power to the electrical socket, remove the old cover, and install the new one. Outdoor outlet covers, such as bubble or weatherproof covers, are explicitly designed for outdoor use and recommended for use in wet locations.

Apply Silicone Caulk

Silicone caulk is a type of caulk that is typically employed for sealing and filling gaps in construction and repair work, particularly in areas with high levels of moisture. Applying silicone caulk to electrical outlets creates a flexible and watertight seal around the outlet, forming a barrier to prevent water from seeping into the outlet and causing damage.

To apply silicone caulk to electrical outlets, follow these steps:

  1. Use an applicator gun to apply the caulk.
  2. Start from the top and work your way down.
  3. Apply caulk on one side of the outlet, then on the other.
  4. Seal any gaps or openings around the outlet to prevent water from entering.

Silicone caulk typically takes 24 hours to dry before an outlet can be safely utilized.

Install Waterproof Tape

Waterproof tape is designed to seal electrical connections, thus providing a barrier between the outlet box and the wall.

When installing waterproof tape on electrical outlets, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the outlet is installed correctly to minimise the need for tape.
  2. Wrap the tape securely around the electrical outlet, covering all exposed areas.
  3. Use a heat source to apply heat and ensure a proper seal.

However, waterproof tape on electrical outlets is not recommended due to potential adhesive failure when wet and electrical tape is not designed for removal and reapplication.

When to Call a Professional Electrician

The best action is to seek assistance from a professional electrician for dealing with wet outlets. A professional electrician is the best choice if you are uncertain about handling wet outlets, require an electrical test, or need repairs after water damage. They can assess the situation, provide expert advice, and ensure your electrical system is safe and functioning correctly.

Signs that might require professional assistance include:

  • Discoloration or moisture on the outlet
  • Smoke
  • Sparks
  • Burning odors
  • The need for complete replacement

A professional electrician can diagnose the issue, correct the problem, and ensure your household’s and electrical system’s safety.

Preparing for Flood-Prone Areas and Severe Weather

Extra precautions are necessary to safeguard your electrical outlets in areas prone to flooding and severe weather. Some measures that should be taken to prepare for flood-prone areas and harsh weather include:

  • Implementing flood vents
  • Installing check valves
  • Raising electrical components
  • Unplugging electronics before a storm

These steps will help protect your electrical outlets during extreme weather conditions.

Flood vents can be particularly beneficial in mitigating water damage to electrical outlets, as they allow for the passage of water, reducing pressure on the building’s walls and foundation. By Australian standards, particularly electrical work in Sydney homes, elevating electrical components to a recommended height of 2.3 metres from the floor to the centre of the switch is advisable. This can significantly reduce the risk of standing water reaching the outlets. Taking these precautions ensures your electrical outlets remain safe and operational during extreme weather conditions.


In conclusion, ensuring the safety of your electrical outlets when dealing with water is of utmost importance. By understanding the dangers of wet outlets, taking immediate steps to address the issue, and implementing preventative measures, you can protect your home and loved ones from the hazards of electric shock, short circuits, and electrical fires. Remember to call a professional electrician when necessary to ensure the safety and functionality of your electrical system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if water gets in an electrical outlet?

Water in electrical outlets can increase current, leading to short circuits and potential electrical fires. Therefore, it is essential to ensure water does not come into contact with electrical wiring.

Can water in an outlet cause a breaker to trip?

Water in contact with electrical wiring can cause a short circuit and trip your breaker, so water can cause a breaker to trip. You may also have more severe damage, so it’s worthwhile to engage an electrician to review it and potentially replace or repair the breaker if there are any severe issues.

What are the primary dangers of wet electrical outlets?

Wet electrical outlets can lead to electric shock, short circuits, and the potential for fire, making them incredibly dangerous.

What are some common causes of water entering electrical outlets?

Rainstorms, flooding, leaks, and inadvertent splashes are all familiar sources of water entering electrical outlets, particularly during daily activities such as cooking and cleaning.

When should I call a professional electrician for help with wet outlets?

If you need assistance handling wet outlets, require an electrical test, or need repairs after water damage, call a professional electrician for help.


Meet Steven, owner of Mr Sparky and seasoned professional electrician in Sydney. With more than 15 years of experience in taking care of the electrical needs of Sydney’s residents, Steven loves to share his expertise and knowledge to ensure everyone is electrical safe. Need an electrician in Sydney – give Mr Sparky a call


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