When water damage occurs, it is important to be able to distinguish between a situation that could prove perilous and one that could be easily remediated with minimal disruption to the structural environment. 

Ultimately, the goal of any water remediation procedure is to restore a structure’s environment back to its original condition in a time-saving, cost-effective and efficient manner. As such, a quick and immediate water damage resolution must be sought in order to prevent further damage and to keep bacterial growth, mold growth and risk for illness at bay.

The Three Categories of Water Damage

Currently, there are three categories of water damage that are determined by the following criteria:

  • Pre-Existing Conditions
  • The Water Source 
  • The Temperature Within the Structure
  • The Amount of Time Elapsed

Once these four considerations have been assessed, a professional can make the determination as to which of the three categories, as later explained in this selection, the water damage falls under.

It is worth noting that a remediation company may alter the originally determined category to one that the company deems more appropriate depending on the findings observed. As such, it is possible that a pronounced category can shift upon further investigation or as time passes.

The following are the three categories of water damage that can befall a structure, home or a business.

Category 1

Category 1 water remediation involves water that is deemed “clean” by most standards. 

Water that has escaped from appliance water lines, fixtures and the like are often deemed category 1, assuming that they were properly maintained from the start. Moreover, if the surfaces that this “clean” water comes in contact with were also well-kept and sanitary, the situation would likely remain at a category 1.

Unlike other categories, there are very few requirements for the drying process to take place in a category 1 situation. Instead, most situations involving category 1 water damage will only require thorough, quick and effective drying before being finally restored to its original condition. At most, you may notice surface or aesthetic damage to the affected areas in lieu of the subsurface level replacement jobs required in a category 2 or 3 situation. 

Nevertheless, it should be noted that the longer that a category 1 situation sits, the more likely it is that the category could shift. Rather than delay, it is important to seek help before further water damage related consequences ensue. 

Category 2

Category 2, also known as “grey water” damage, involves water that has possibly come into contact with physical, bio-hazardous or chemical contaminants. It is possible that if a human were to consume water of this sort, he or she would likely fall ill.

Common occurrences that could result in a category 2 situation include a toilet overflow involving urine without feces, a fish tank leak, water that has escaped from a dishwasher while in use, water bed leakages and more. 

Unlike category 1, there are certain procedures that must be followed in order for this situation to be properly remediated. 

One of those procedures involves a thorough cleaning of both porous and non-porous surfaces. In the case of carpeting, the padding must be removed, discarded and replaced to be in compliance. Carpet surfaces are usually treated using water extraction methods and are then topped with antimicrobial agents to prevent the further growth of bacteria. 

As with category 1 water damage, the process of drying and total remediation will need to happen quickly. Time elapsed will only aid in bacterial growth, and possibly, further categorical advancement.

Category 3

In a category 3 situation, all parties involved will need to exercise the utmost caution and care, as dealing with a “black water” situation can prove deadly, if mishandled. 

Usually involving sewage and other highly dangerous contaminates, a category 3 event will need to be resolved immediately, effectively and safely. It is not a situation that can be put off or ignored.

Unlike category 1 and category 2, simple cleaning and water extraction methods will not work for porous surfaces in a “black water” situation. Rather, porous materials, such as carpeting, will need to be completely removed and replaced, along with any padding or other materials affected. Non-porous surfaces will be cleaned thoroughly and all surfaces will need to be treated with biocide and antimicrobial agents when applicable. 

In some cases, items of high value, although involved in a category 3 event, may be salvaged. Items like oriental rugs may be of consideration. In these circumstances, the item to be remediated will be completely washed clean, dried quickly and treated with varying agents to prevent advancing bacterial growth. Additionally, these items will need to be assessed by a third party to ensure maximum cleaning effectiveness.

Although a category 3 situation can be heartbreaking and devastating, it is important to allow remedial professionals to follow proper protocol when it comes to cleaning or disposing of contaminated items. To stand in the way of a professional cleaning institution may result in the job being left unhanded, as remedial professionals must follow protocol to keep themselves and their clients safe. 

Special Circumstances

If there is a category 3 loss that involves a facility such as a doctor’s office, a daycare or the like, it would likely be deemed a “special circumstance”. In this case, the establishment will likely require the involvement of a third party, such as an Indoor Environmental Professional, otherwise known as an IEP. 

Seek Help As Soon as Damages Occur

To summarize, regardless of the category of loss, it is important to seek help as soon as water damage occurs. Neglecting to do so could lead to further calamity, including the increase of bacteria, sickness and more.