3 Categories of Water Damage3 Categories of Water Damage and Contamination

A leading cause of homeowners insurance claims is water damage in your home. It can cost homeowners and insurance companies thousands of dollars. The amount of work needed and the cost of water damage repairs directly correlate to the three categories of water damage:

  1. Category 1 Water Damage
  2. Category 2 Water Damage
  3. Category 3 Water Damage

The three categories of water damage are distinguished mostly by the type of water source, the moisture content present, and the health risks involved.

  1. Category 1 Water Damage
    Category 1 covers clean water damage or water from clean sources like a water supply line, such as water streaming from a showerhead or drinking water from a kitchen faucet. It is both toxin and sewage free, posing no risk to human health. However, if not addressed within 24-48 hours, it can become Category 2 water damage.

    This category includes property damage from sources such as:

         •   Broken water supply lines
         •   Broken pipes
         •   Melting ice or snow

    Category 1 water damage is easy to dry and fix when caught in time.
  2. Category 2 Water Damage
    Category 2 water damage, or gray water damage, is caused by water sources with smalls amounts of contaminants. It can directly or indirectly impact your health and property if not given the proper care. This category includes water loss due to:

         •   Broken aquariums

         •   Overflowing toilet bowls

         •   Dishwashers or washing machines (only applies when it is rising water from washing machine overflow with only water and detergent. Once water is dirty from clothes draining, it fits into a different category).

         •   Backed up sump pumps (If you notice your sump pump not working correctly, get it fixed immediately as a malfunctioning one can lead to a lot of damage.)

    Water Bath GIF

    Category 2 is a little harder to dry and clean than Category 1.
  3. Category 3 Water Damage
    Category 3 water damage, or black water damage, is the most severe damage in your home. It is polluted water typically full of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, human waste, toxigenic, or other harmful toxins.

    It poses a substantial risk of discomfort or sickness to the home residents due to the level of contaminants. The highest health risk comes from ingestion or inhalation.

    Category 3 contaminated water intrusion can come from several sources, including:

         •   Sewage causing human risks and nutrient pollution to the earth's surface

         •   Rising water from flooding and rivers and lakes

         •   Standing water bodies

         •   Rising flood waters

         •   Seawater from hurricanes or particulate matter from aquatic life that died of oxygen depletion from oil spills

         •   Metals and solvents from industrial runoff or a home's rusty pipes

    Although it is called black water, it does not necessarily look black. If it is black water damage, many materials and items in your home should be removed and either disinfected or thrown away.

Classes of Water
Each water damage category in your home is classified to determine what steps to take in the restoration process. Each class identifies the amount of water removal needed and how grossly contaminated the room or area is with pathogenic, toxigenic harmful agents.

  1. Class 1 Water contains the least amount of water, and it takes minimal effort to dry.
  2. Class 2 Water is a large amount of water that impacts a large space, like a whole room. It takes longer and more work to dry, and you must remove mold growth immediately.
  3. Class 3 Water is the most considerable amount of water and moisture remains in structural materials of ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, and hardwood floors.
  4. Class 4 Water water damage is known for "specialty drying situations." This class includes porous materials, such as concrete or plaster.

Professional Water Damage Restoration
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, or IICRC, developed the IICRC s500 Standard and Reference guide for professional cleaning and restoration. It provides basic principles that a water damage restoration company should follow to effectively clean and restore your home's damages.

When you choose a restoration company, look for IICRC certification, and follow its principles during the restoration process. Doing so should ensure the job gets done well.

No matter which category of water damage you have, it is vital to act immediately. Even the smallest and least hazardous damage can lead to extreme trouble if ignored. Take steps to mitigate at the first sign of water damage to keep your body and your pockets healthy.

Hope that helps!

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At your service,
Young Alfred