Water damage and its effects on your vessel's electrical system

To perform properly, electrical equipment must have clean, corrosion-free conductive contact surfaces and excellent insulation. In a marine setting, electrical equipment can become damaged by exposure to fresh or saltwater, either through an isolated leak or complete submersion. Such exposure reduces performance ability and increases the likelihood of future equipment failure.

If any electrical components have been exposed to water, it is critical that they be replaced, as damage may not be visible without completely dismantling the equipment or removing the wiring's insulation. A common and simple example of water damage is when copper wire oxidizes and develops a greenish tint, creating resistance. Resistance generates heat directly in proportion to the amount of current flowing through the oxidized metal. The more heat that is generated, the greater the resistance. This "snowballing" effect can lie dormant until a current load is increased across a contact point, thereby becoming a fire hazard some time after the electricity is turned on. This is why the professionals at Pacific Yacht Systems emphasize the importance of a proper survey to diagnose the extent of water damage to a boat's electrical system. If your vessel has recently suffered water damage, we urge you to take advantage of our complimentary on-board consultation.