Recovery from a Flood: Safety Alert for Owners and Operators of Boilers, Pressure Retaining Equipment, Refrigeration Systems & Appliances
The LWD’s Mechanical Inspection Bureau of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Compliance (BB&PVC) warns that the safe operation of boiler and other systems is impacted when the electrical systems, controls and safety devices become inundated with water. Extreme events, such as those brought on by Hurricane Sandy, may partially or totally submerge these systems, causing malfunction or catastrophic consequences.
Proper corrective action must be taken to mitigate any potentially hazardous condition that may result from a flood. Attempting to turn on or operate any steam or hot water heating system, potable water system, refrigeration system, appliance or other HVAC equipment after a flood can cause a fire, other property damage, serious personal injury or death as a result of malfunctioning controls.
While every possible scenario or failure cannot be anticipated, it is imperative that professional service be sought to conduct a complete and thorough evaluation of equipment after it has sustained flood damage. This is because flooding can affect the safe operation of equipment and it could damage it in a way that is not easy to detect. Safety-related mechanical or electrical components become damaged and problems may be difficult to detect. As a result, the safety device or component may become disabled due to the flood.
While repairs can be made to equipment that is damaged in a flood, it can prove to be extremely costly; therefore, the economic impact must be assessed. Any damaged equipment repairs must comply with and adhere to the existing safety and health standards, and the appropriate jurisdictional agency oversight. Only safety devices and components that have been accepted for their intended service by a nationally recognized testing agency _ such as, but not limited to UL, FM or CSA _ shall be utilized.
Used or rebuilt replacement components are not acceptable due to the safety risk.
In addition, repairs must only be performed by a qualified contractor with the properly licensed electricians, plumbers and boiler repair companies authorized to perform welded repair. The extreme cost of repairs results from the validation, confirmation and replacement of components that must be done by a qualified and authorized company.
In accordance with New Jersey statutes and/or regulations, a qualified repair firm must comply with all accepted engineering and safety practices. Any equipment or essentially anything that was submerged or exposed to the elements or abnormal environmental conditions must be tested. This includes any accessory, ancillary or integral equipment such as a motor or pump electrical wiring, contacts, relays, valves, actuators, safety controls, limits, insulation etc.
Therefore, from the standpoint of safety, the BB&PVC recommends replacement versus repair because of the potential risk. Equipment owners are encouraged to work closely with their boiler and machinery insurance agent to ascertain the proper course of action.
Below are links to articles from the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors (NBBPVI)͕, the Hartford Steam Boiler and Insurance Company (HSB) and from the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (ACHRI) that typify reasonable action that must be considered when equipment has been affected by a flood. While each article provides a perspective for a given situation, the decision to repair or replace must be made based on the extent of the damage.
The NBBPVI article "Recovering Boiler Systems After a Flood," originally published in the
August 1993 National Board Infoletter, may be found at:
The HSB "Flood Recovery Alert" is available at: http://www.hsb.com/cmsfiles/732.pdf
The AHRI article may be found at: http://www.ahrinet.org/floods+and+hvacr+equipment.aspx.
Please contact your insurance company for similar articles or guidelines.
For questions regarding this information, please contact the BB&PVC at (609) 292-2921 or email at BPVRCompliance@dol.state.nj.us. To report an emergency situation related to your boiler, pressure vessel, pressure retaining item or refrigeration system under the jurisdiction of the BB&PVC please call (609) 984-0626.