Inspecting Flood Damaged Appliances

So, my wife has a vacation rental here in Maui that had a flood back in December and all the owners are dealing with FEMA for insurance coverage. We’re to the point of appliances and all I can find (and what the insurance adjuster is telling us) is to have a “qualified service technician evaluate…” What I can’t find is/are any specs as to what deems an appliance “totaled”?? Basically, what is the criteria the tech is using?

I help the owner’s board hire contractors, etc. and am just trying to make sure I know what to expect. I’ve talked to a couple appliance guys and they don’t even really know.

They don’t have to really know, just inspect, operate and render an opinion. I would nudge them a bit and remind them reliability should be considered if electrical components have been saturated.


Some info here that may help, Matt.


On a practical level if the circuit boards were still electrically energized as they flooded, the boards may have short circuited. They may function erratically in the future if they work at all.

Corrosion of (moving) parts. It can attenuate the useful life of the appliance.

It can be problematic to fully dry out tight spaces (relay contacts, windings, etc.) if the power was off before being flooded. This will become evident when it is plugged back in and tested. Even if dried out there might be left over water borne debris that (partially) bridges a contact, or may change the capacitance/resistance/thermal cooling of a circuit board component. Similar to a build up of light dust on a CB.

There may be biological contaminants if there was sewage overflow.

God would be the only one who could state with certainty what the specific deficiencies were of flooded appliances.

I don’t think you would get any real pushback mentioning these points to a tech, there may be others you can think of as well. I will look at Junior’s link.


Good reference article! I forgot about wet insulation, it would potentially get moldy.


Great info and help everyone, thanks! Yeah, this was a new one for me. We were VERY lucky that the guest in our unit had been in a flood before and knew to not open the door. We only had about 1.5" of muddy water. For a short time there was around 12" of water outside and those that opened the doors had 12" of water inside. The concrete stucco (circa 1972) did an amazing job at keeping the water out. I’ve been walking around the building as it’s being repaired and am learning a lot. Here are some pics of the night of the flood and the next morning.