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Old 09-15-2017, 11:16 AM   #1
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Hydraulic fluid spill on electrical panel

Last night as I was docking, something popped in my lower helm steering system. I couldn't see what let loose, but I had hydraulic fluid draining from above the elecrtic power panel onto the backs of all the breakers. I turned off the batteries and did not plug in shore power. I won't have a chance to investigate more until the weekend.

While I don't look forward to finding and fixing what broke (access won't be easy), I'm wondering what issues may result from hydraulic fluid getting on my power panel and breakers. Any thoughts?

Thanks
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Old 09-15-2017, 11:37 AM   #2
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It will be messy maybe, but since hydraulic fluid is non conductive it should not cause an electrical problem. And hydraulic fluid is fairly thin, so it all drain down by the time you work on it.

Mop up any residual oil with paper towels or bilge rags. If it still is oily you could spray the back side of the breakers with any spray on detergent and then wipe off and spray again with water and wipe again.

But shut off all power first!!!! Disconnect shore power and remove the positive leads to the batteries if you don't have a master switch.
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Old 09-15-2017, 11:54 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I did get most of the sloppiest part of the mess mopped up last night. The detailed cleaning will take a bit more time. Good to hear it shouldn't cause any significant issues with the electrical! Now I hope I can figure out what failed in the system and get it repaired.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:04 PM   #4
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Second Dave on this. Messy, but don't think it will cause any issues with the breakers. Not a breaker expert, though.
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Old 09-15-2017, 01:09 PM   #5
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A better idea for cleaning the breaker panel from a guy who works with them a lot...

" ... don't use soap and water to clean oil off breakers....... a bad idea!

A spray can of contact cleaner with a little red tube in the nozzle will work like a champ and take 5 minutes."

My comments are similar, the detergent and water for surfaces might be OK, but you definitely don't want it inside the breakers or on any electrical contact surfaces. Many install instructions for various things or leak detection caution about the corrosive nature of harsh detergents like dishwashing detergent....the better ones are great for oil but not great fow many metal parts unless washed ofc quickly.
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:28 PM   #6
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Be careful with contact cleaned also. Some may be explosive.

I have also melted plastic parts with this stuff. It is ok where the spray will wash away the oily residue and then FLASH off but if it can,t flash away it may soften many plastics when is trapped.

I have used it to clean many electrical items but learned the hard way on some items.

Do not drown the parts. Use lots of paper towels to catch, dam and contain the run off, not letting it drown lower parts.

Be careful as the fumes will give you a bad snoot full. and may collect in the bilge.
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Old 09-24-2017, 12:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
A better idea for cleaning the breaker panel from a guy who works with them a lot...

" ... don't use soap and water to clean oil off breakers....... a bad idea!

A spray can of contact cleaner with a little red tube in the nozzle will work like a champ and take 5 minutes."

My comments are similar, the detergent and water for surfaces might be OK, but you definitely don't want it inside the breakers or on any electrical contact surfaces. Many install instructions for various things or leak detection caution about the corrosive nature of harsh detergents like dishwashing detergent....the better ones are great for oil but not great fow many metal parts unless washed ofc quickly.
Agree with this totally. I work with very high voltage transformer and circuit breakers, many of which are submerged in mineral oil to enable their voltage and current ratings. Water is the last thing you want to expose any electrical item to, unless you can immediately dry the device, inside and out. Utilities spend millions on equipment to either measure water and/or remove water from high value assets. Oil is much preferred.
I would consider a spray down with WD40 or old school (with odor) mineral sprits with lots of diapers to catch the drippings. WD40 propellant is highly flammable, so, don't be making any expensive sparks!
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