It goes without saying that water damage to a home or structure can be devastating. Nevertheless, there are methods that remediation professionals use to determine the fastest, most efficient and most cost-effective way to be of service to those who need it most. 

By observing the standards and regulations of class of loss, remediation companies can keep costs low while increasing the effectiveness of the drying equipment they’re using. This means less time wasted, less emotional strain and a safer room, home, business or structural chamber for everyone involved. 

Defining “Class of Loss”

Class of loss is one of three major considerations that remediation specialists use to determine which methods will work best to ensure the proper drying of an affected structure. 

To understand the four classes of water intrusion, the following variables must be considered:

  • What Components of the Structure Have Been Involved
  • How Much Material Has Been Affected
  • What Is the Amount of Water That Can Potentially Be Absorbed
  • The Potential Evaporation Rate of Soaked Material

Once these determinations have been made, it is possible to determine class loss. 

The Four Classes of Water Loss

Class 1

A Class 1 water loss event is categorized as having less than 5% of the overall wet affected area as porous material. This includes wall, ceiling and flooring surfaces, combined. 

Out of the four classes, the Class 1 scenario has the least evaporation rate, because it has the least amount of water present at the scene.

In this class, low porosity flooring and other materials will have been minimally affected. Examples of low porosity materials include cement, plywood and hardwood flooring. 

If carpeting and padding are present, it is likely minimally wet, if it is wet at all. 

Class 2

A Class 2 water loss is one containing at least 5-40% of surface materials affected, including the ceiling, flooring and wall structures. 

A Class 2 event will have a significant evaporation rate, one much higher than a Class 1, on the basis of more surface area having been involved.

Drywall in this class may experience moisture-wicking not extending higher than 24 inches up the wall. 

Similar to Class 1, low porosity flooring and low evaporation materials are likely to have been minimally affected. 

If there is padding, carpeting or cushioning that has incurred water damage, the padding of the carpet will need to be removed and replaced, and the surface of the carpet will need to be thoroughly dried and treated. 

However, there are a few circumstances that may allow the use of a dehumidifier, deep extraction tools and various suction devices to rid the carpet and padding of water. In some situations, carpeting and padding can even be dried-in-place.

In a Class 2 situation, there will need to be more drying equipment involved since there is more surface area to be dried. Because of this, any wet useless or unusable items should be discarded immediately, so as not to add additional moisture to the environment. 

Class 3

In a Class 3 situation, it is possible that moisture has come from overhead. In this scenario, over 40% of the area, including the ceiling, walls and flooring, has been affected. 

Drywall may experience moisture wicking that extends higher than 24 inches in a Class 3 scenario. Sometimes, the insulation within the walls will have become logged with water, as well. 

It is possible that the entire carpet and padding will have been soaked through and that the padding will need to be replaced. However, low porosity flooring, framing and other materials will have absorbed very little liquid. 

Examples of Class 3 situations can involve overhead water main lines that erupt or roof damage that was incurred as a result of high winds, thus allowing rain to enter the structure. 

Keep in mind, however, that overhead water damage, in and of itself, is not enough to constitute an event as a Class 3 situation. Other factors, including time elapsed, the area affected, moisture-wicking and more, would need to be assessed before making a final determination.

Class 4

A Class 4 situation has the slowest evaporation rate of the four classes. This situation will require specialized drying measures, as water has likely penetrated low porosity flooring and structures at multiple levels. 

These situations require very dry air for restoration in an attempt to draw out as much moisture as possible. It will take specialized equipment, such as LGR or desiccant dehumidifier, to accomplish the job.

Low porosity surfaces and materials generally affected in Class 3 situations often include stone, brick, cement, hardwood flooring, plaster, dirt floors, vinyl and stone.

Classification Matters

To conclude, it is important that classifications be made when assessing a water loss situation to prevent inflated costs, wasted resources and ineffective drying measures. 

Please note, that although it is always valuable to have general knowledge about water loss classifications in the event of a situation requiring water remediation, it is important that one leaves the classification process to a professional. Always reach out for help and never attempt to remediate a water loss situation, independently.