Category 3 Water Damage
Category 3 Water Damage

When you sustain property damage from a water-related misfortune, you might want to file a claim and hire a water mitigation company. They need to know the amount and kind of toxins in the water to estimate the costs and plan their cleaning process. Of the three types of harmful water that a homeowner may experience, Category 3, also known as "black water damage," is the most serious due to its significant health risks.

What is Category 3 Water?
The IICRC s500 Standard states that Category 3 water is full of fungus and bacteria. It can lead to discomfort or sickness, death, and disease, some of which include the following:

  • Tetanus
  • West Nile virus
  • Tuberculosis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Norovirus
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Acute respiratory trouble
  • Enteroviral carditis
  • Gastroenteritis

Due to the potential danger, this category requires swift action and attention from a professional restoration contractor.

How Does Category 3 Water Develop?
Category 3 water is full of contaminants like human waste, chemical waste, medical waste, and dangerous metals. It can come from many sources. Some of the most common include:

Most often, Category 3 home water intrusion comes from sewage backup. Properly maintaining sewer lines can keep this risk low.

Locations that experience a lot of storms and other natural disasters face this risk regularly. There is not much one can do by way of preventing such an event. However, homeowners should have a plan in place in case it does. The plan should include an exit strategy if the home is contaminated and a water damage restoration company you can call immediately.

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Why Would Water Become Category 3 vs. Category 1 or 2?
Typically, water needs these four things to become a Category 3 threat:

  1. Time
  2. Moisture
  3. Humidity
  4. A lack of airflow

These factors cause mold growth and wet materials to become even more saturated. This process can make any water potentially hazardous to human health.

The levels of contamination and originating source help determine its category classification. The levels are Category, 1, Category 2, and Category 3.

Category 1 Water
Category 1 water is "clean water" since it originates from a sanitary source, such as water supply lines that provide drinking water, water to kitchen and bathroom sinks, tubs and showers, and dishwashers or washing machines. While this water is clean initially, even clean water from your water supply line can become contaminated with mold or bacteria if left alone. If Category 1 water goes unaddressed for 48 hours or more, it can become a Category 2 threat.

Category 2 Water
Category 2 water is called "gray water" or "greywater." Gray water includes water that might come from an overflowing washing machine -- as loaded washing machines have detergents in them -- or a backed-up sump pump. Category 2 is contaminated water that has the potential of health risks if contacted or consumed by humans. Left alone for two days or more, Category 2 can become as unsanitary as floodwater and can advance to Category 3.

As you can see, of the three categories of water, grossly contaminated Category 3's harmful agents are the most damaging to affected areas.

Category 3 WaterDoes Home Insurance Cover Category 3 Water Damage?

Sometimes. It depends. Most homeowners insurance coverage does not clearly address Category 1, 2, or 3 water damage. Instead, you must look for related words. For instance, most insurance policies have either a pollution exclusion, fungus and bacteria exclusion, or contamination exclusion. Category 3 water damage fits into these categories.

Look at the language in your policy, and you will undoubtedly find exclusions that pertain to most -- if not all -- types of water damage.

Most likely, you do have coverage for "sudden and accidental" damage caused by certain events. For example, your coverage includes an accidental toilet overflow from your child flushing a toy or other natural causes. If you lose heat during a winter ice storm and your sewer pipe bursts from the weight of ice, that is covered. The key is that it must be sudden and accidental.

However, insurance companies do not view backed up sewer lines, or anything similar, as either sudden or accidental events. They consider that preventable, so most basic policies do not cover the damage or cleanup.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Category 3 Water Damage from Floods?
This answer is quite simple: No. A basic homeowners policy does not include flood damage. However, if you have a separate flood insurance policy, your insurance claims should be covered. It is always important to read your policy thoroughly and ask your insurance agent any questions you might have.

Category 3 Water Remediation
You should start your cleaning and restoration process by locating an IICRC certified professional water damage restoration company. Make sure you choose a water remediation company that has an inspection, cleaning, and restoration certificate. They will come, assess any water losses and damages to your home, categorize the water, and determine the best course of action.

This course of action typically includes drying out any moisture still present, sanitizing any items that they can save, and getting rid of things that are not salvageable.

Many people feel as though they can clean and restore the water damages on their own. While it is not impossible, it is certainly not wise. Professional water mitigation companies know how to locate all the water damage, the proper steps to take, and any risks you might be facing. They have the tools necessary to get the job done timely and efficiently. Hiring a professional is especially important if your water damage originally came from fire damage.

An individual can learn how to do all of this, of course. However, hiring professionals saves you time and money. You would have to buy the necessary tools, like an air mover, and learn what to do.

The longer it takes you to do this, the further the danger spreads. As Category 3 water damage is so dangerous, it is best not to take any chances with your family's health. We recommend calling a professional restoration team at the first sign of trouble.

Hope that helps!

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Young Alfred