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Why Does Water Damage Electronics?

While it’s common knowledge that water and electronics do not mix, understanding why is important so you can protect your components from damage. There are numerous factors at play regarding the extent to which water can harm your electrical components.

Properly replacing damaged parts and using an enclosure to prevent harm is crucial to protecting your electronics. Find ways to avoid and respond to water damage to your electrical equipment today with the help of APX Enclosures.

How Does Water Damage Electronics?

Although water is generally not harmful, electronics and liquid do not go together. Anyone who has dropped a cellphone in a bathtub or puddle of water understands this fact firsthand.

However, what about larger electronics, including those in enclosures? Realistically, the water itself does not damage electrical components. 


Water typically contains impurities and ions that we cannot see. If those impurities and ions form a link, they could connect two contact points within a device. This connection can alter where the electricity is supposed to go. The redirected current could cause the electronic components to short-circuit.


If the water does not cause a short circuit, it can lead to eventual corrosion. While corrosion is a different type of damage and typically takes more time to notice, it is still harmful to the functioning of electronics. The chemical reaction known as corrosion can start almost immediately or be delayed by hours or days.


Condensation is the process of water changing from a vapor back into liquid. The water vapor held in the air is referred to as humidity. If that air touches an electrical component with a temperature of the dew point or below, condensation will begin. 

While the condensation on an enclosure isn’t necessarily a problem, the water forming on the electrical parts poses a risk. Condensation and frost can damage electronics in several ways, such as:

  • Corrosion
  • Short circuits
  • Contamination
  • Shock risk
  • Breakdown
  • Water drainage

Can You Replace Water-Damaged Electronics?

Water can affect your electronic equipment one way or another, from heavy storms to full-fledged floods. Without the right protective equipment, your components can face damage in these scenarios.

The National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) has released a helpful guide on knowing whether you should repair or replace damaged electrical components. The organization recommends replacing the following components rather than trying to fix them:

  • Molded-case circuit breakers
  • Low-voltage fuses
  • Busways, or Mylar-wrapped bars
  • Switches
  • Overload relays
  • Components with semiconductors and transistors
  • Adjustable speed drives
  • Electronically controlled and solid-state contactors and starters
  • Electrical connectors
  • Medium-voltage fuses
  • Electronic trip units of LV power circuit breakers
  • Transformers
  • Fittings
  • Outlets and junction boxes
  • Wire or cable for dry locations
  • Arc-fault circuit interrupters and ground-fault circuit interrupters
  • Surge protective devices
  • Wiring devices
  • Batteries
  • Uninterruptable power supply
  • Fire pump controllers
  • Signaling, protection and communication systems
  • Lighting equipment
  • Power resistors and related assemblies

If you have water damage on a circuit board, you might be able to repair it. However, the success of repairs will depend on how the component became damaged, how long it took for you to respond and the power status during the harm. Your circuit board may be corroding for some time before you notice. 

If you’re unsure whether your water-damaged equipment can be fixed, you can send it out for cleaning and repair to see if it will work properly again. It’s best to hire a professional rather than trying to learn how to remove corrosion from electronics on your own.

How Can You Avoid Water Damage to Your Electronic Components?

You can take a few steps to protect electronics outside from water damage. Enclosures are one of the most promising protective measures you can take against water damage. Choosing the right enclosure increases the likelihood your components will stay safe from water. Consider the following factors as you make your decision.


One way to find a suitable enclosure is to look for an ingress rating. This measure determines how well an enclosure protects electronic components from solid particles and water. A high ingress number means increased protection against water damage. These enclosures often work well at protecting electronics from water and other harmful materials.

The International Electrotechnical Commission generates an IP code, which denotes how much protection an enclosure provides from both particles and water. The code is written as IPxy with “x” for protection against particles and “y” against water. The ratings start with zero as the lowest protection — essentially none. For liquid, eight is the highest rating, meaning you could continuously submerge the component in water without damage.

While it is unlikely an enclosure for outdoor applications will have a water protection rating of eight, enclosures at six will often work well in these situations. Find an enclosure with an ingress rating that works best for your application to ensure the greatest amount of protection.


Nesting enclosures are another way to provide even more protection. When you have multiple enclosures around the electronic components, you are even more likely to prevent water damage. This process is common for electrical equipment installed outdoors. 

While you should still search for an enclosure with a high ingress rating, having multiple layers of protection around sensitive electrical components can make a difference.

Protect Your Electrical Components With APX Enclosures

Based in the Northeast, APX Enclosures understands the needs of your area. Our customizable enclosures meet NEMA standards, and we price our products affordably so you can get the precise enclosure you need. Our enclosures come with several additional options, such as fans, custom shelving and insulation, to serve a wide range of applications.

We’re proud to offer a basic warranty of 30 days for any of our products and up to one year of coverage concerning the product’s craft. If you’re ready to increase your electrical equipment’s protection against water damage, contact us online today to request a quote.

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