Types and Classes of Water Damage


Water damage comes in many shapes and forms, and can leave lasting damage to not just your property but your health also, if not dealt with correctly. Among the first steps to relieving your property of potential water damage is to ascertain what sort of water damage you are dealing with. According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) there are 3 types of water damage, which they summarize in their Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (the S500). Water damage is categorized by its own origin, length of time at the structure, history of the construction, and additional impactful factors like chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, animal feces, fuel, detergents, rat poison, etc..
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Category 1

The first sort of water damage they outline is Category 1, which includes burst water pipes, leaking appliances, and small quantities of rainwater. The defining characteristic of Category 1 water is that it's clean at the source, and therefore doesn't pose a danger if consumed by people. Category 1 water requires much less equipment and time to remedy.


Types of Category 1 water damage include, but aren't restricted to burst water pipes, failed provide lines on appliances, falling rainwater, melting ice or snow, broken toilet tanks, or toilet bowl over flow that does not include any contaminants. Although this type of water damage is not necessarily toxic, if it is not dealt with it can turn into class 2 within 24 hours. That time period can be sped up if the perfect conditions for microorganism growth are present such as stagnant atmosphere, humidity, and moderate temperatures (68-86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Category 3

Category two water damage, or gray water, is characterized by starting with some amount of contamination at the origin, or Category 1 water that's been failed as mentioned previously. This type of water damage is rather dangerous, and might cause some amount of illness or distress for individuals or animals if subjected.


The most common sorts of Category 2 water damage are discharge from washing machines or dishwashers, toilet leak overflow with urine but no stool, sump pump backup, hydrostatic pressure seepage, washing machine overflow, broken aquariums, and puncture water beds. These cases of water damage may contain chemicals, bio-contaminants, and other kinds of contamination that are toxic to human health. Health consequences are as follows: allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (lung tissue inflammation), burning eyes, skin irritation, inflammatory reaction, nausea, headache, and fever. Again, conducive and time temperatures allow for deterioration to a Category 3 within 48 hours.

Category 3

The final and most dangerous sort of water damage is Category 3, or black water. Black water is highly polluted, contains germs, and can lead to serious illness or even death in extreme states. Any person having a weak immune system, respiratory illness, allergies, or even young children should remain away from the arrangement for the length of the disease and clean-up.


Examples of this type of damage include sewer, floor surface water intrusion, bathroom backflow from outside the trap, and flooding sweater/rivers/streams that have entered the premises. Flooding water contributes to silt and other natural matter, that can already have bacteria growing inside, and resting stagnant within your residence will only supply a more suitable environment where microorganisms can grow. Negative health effects from black water are many, and include bacterial infections in E. coli, salmonella, and shigella, soil organisms such as Streptomyces, saccharopolyspora, thermonospora, viruses such as rotavirus, hepatitis, and echovirus, and even parasites like giardia, cryptosporidium, and others. In any situation, black water is quite serious and needs to be dealt with immediately.


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