The Categories of Water Damage

There are 3 categories of water damage which are based on the level of contamination in the water.  The first category being clean water and the third being highly contaminated.  All categories can cause a great amount of damage but some are much more hazardous and difficult to clean up.  The first step of water damage restoration is determining which water damage category is being dealt with, as this will determine the process used to ensure a safe and effective recovery.  Here we will discuss the 3 water damage categories and their differences.

Category 1:  Clean water

If your home has experienced flooding and water damage, hopefully it falls under this category.  Although category 1 water damage can still cause plenty of damage, the water is from a clean source.  Since the water is sanitary there is no immediate health risks and there is a much better chance of being able to salvage items that have been affected.

Examples of flood water sources in this clean water category could be a broken supply pipe, water heater, faucet, appliance malfunctions with the supply line or toilet tank overflow. It can also include melting snow and rainfall.  Despite the fact these water sources are clean, they can easily and quickly deteriorate to a category 2 or even 3.  Category 1 water damage that is left standing for 48 hours or greater will become a category 2.  This is because standing water will promote bacterial and fungal growth.  It is necessary to take action as fast as possible to prevent this occurrence.

Category 2: Grey Water

Category 2 water damage is commonly referred to as “grey water.”  This means that the water contains a significant number of contaminants.  This category can potentially cause those in contact with it to experience discomfort or sickness.  Just as a category 1 will move into a more severe category if not treated quickly, a category 2 will also move up to a category 3 if the water has been stagnant for too long.

“Grey water” can come from a number of sources in your home.  It could originate from the drain line of a washing machine or dishwasher, or from an overflowing toilet bowl as long as there is no presence of feces.

Category 3: Black Water

“Black water” is the most severe water damage category.  It is water that is “grossly contaminated.”  It may contain pathogenic or toxigenic agents.  This water can be extremely harmful when in contact with people or animals and many precautions need to be taken when dealing with this type of category cleanup.

When thinking of black water, the first thing coming to mind is sewage which is without doubt a category 3 but there are also many other sources that can be classified as black water. Rising seawater, overflow from streams or lakes, and even groundwater can fall into this category.  Groundwater can contain traces of animal droppings, pesticides and more that can make it very harmful. Wind driven rain can also sometimes be placed in this category.  Wind driven rain from a severe storm like a hurricane can pick up many contaminants as it falls and runs over contaminated surfaces.  This is different from rainfall during a light shower, which is a category 1.  Testing the water may be necessary in some cases to accurately determine the proper classification.

Knowing the category of water damage is of the highest importance.  A category 1 clean-up is completely different from a category 3 clean-up.  There will be differences in the type of equipment needed, personal protective equipment required, and cleaning and disinfectants used. Many times, in a category 3 clean up demolition will be necessary.  Handling the clean up properly for the determined category is absolutely essential to guarantee the health of everyone in the home and to ensure there are no further problems down the line.

Restoration Mate are experts in all categories of water damage.  We will accurately evaluate so we know exactly what we are dealing with and come up with the best possible recovery plan.  All steps of the process are carefully completed to the highest standards and we are available 24/7 for any emergencies!

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