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Don't Get Burnt

Galvanic, Corrosion, and Rust are all things boaters must address, but when this affects electrical components, wires, or connections it can damage sensitive equipment or in the worst case start a fire.

The ABYC has done a great job of creating standards for processes and components but too often they are not implemented or the vessel is older when those standards didn't exist. We have even seen several newer high-quality boats where you can simply pull out the wire from a crimped connector as ell as loose screws and nuts at breakers, switches, batteries, and buss bars all causing poor connection resulting in extensive heat and arcing. Most people don't know that stainless steel is a very poor electrical conductor, if a SS washer is used between ring crimps, the reduced conductivity results in heat and arcs, melting the wire insulation.

Too often these dangers are not obvious and tracing every connection as a maintenance procedure is almost impossible. That being said, inspecting your switch panel for loose connections or indications of burnt wires is a good idea (be extremely careful not to electrocute yourself or arc the wires). Don't assume a switch or breaker is broken and never hold one for an extended period of time to get the device to work. household outlets and switches do not last in a marine environment, the internal contact tabs corrode causing arcs, and should be replaced every 5 years. WR (Weather-Rated) outlets should be used, not the typical residential interior outlets.

A major red flag for a problem is warm or hot wires, circuit breakers tripping, or equipment and appliances completely or intermittently shutting down or acting up. If issues are new or getting more frequent it is especially imperative to not ignore the problem.

Anytime you or someone else does work on your boat, go back and pull on the wire connections, wiggle the wires at screw and nutted terminations to verify things are tight, ensure wires are tied up and not susceptible to getting caught on something such as engine belts, steering systems, or loose items in Lazarettes or other compartments. Check that connections are not near areas that may get flooded, especially critical devices like bilge pumps. It is also important tinned stranded marine wire of the correct size is used, this information is usually written on the wire shielding, in this case, bigger is better.

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