Classifying Water Damage Often people in El Paso assume that because we live in the desert there is rarely a need for water damage restoration. However broken pipes, faulty appliances, and backed up sewer lines can cause extensive damage to your home if not properly addressed. Two ways of classifying water damage events are 1) the cleanliness of the water and 2) the difficulty in removing the moisture. Water Damage Restoration Categories Category 1. "Clean Water" is from a source that poses no substantial harm to people. Water that overflowed while running your bath water, leaking from a supply line for an ice maker, dishwasher or clothes washer are good examples. This assumes that the surfaces being flooded are reasonably clean. Flooding from clean water is usually treated by extracting standing water. Air movers are set up to create evaporation and dehumidifier's to remove the moisture from the air. After 48 hours, a Category 1 can become a Category 2.
Category 2. "Grey Water" poses health risks due to significant levels of contamination of bacteria, mold and/or chemicals. This includes dirty water from washing machines, dishwashers, as well as leaks from water beds, broken aquariums and urine. The water restoration technician should wear some personal protection equipment (PPE). The carpet padding is usually removed and replaced because its sponge-like structure offers the perfect environment for bacterial and mold growth. Due to rampant bacterial breeding and mold growth, Category 2 becomes a Category 3 situation if left untreated for 2 days or more.
Category 3. "Black Water" contains disease-causing organisms, toxins, and is grossly unsanitary. Typical black water conditions occur from a sewer back flow, a broken toilet bowl containing feces, and rising flood waters. (Rising flood water is considered Category three because of the possibility of chemicals and organisms found in lawn chemicals, fertilizers, animal feces, decaying ground debris, and over filled sewer and septic systems.) Tetanus and other serious diseases are likely to be present in rising flood waters. The water restoration technician must wear personal protection equipment. Affected objects such as carpet, padding, and Sheetrock must be removed and disposed. A biocide must be applied to kill micro-organisms on site.
Water Damage Restoration Classes Water Classes are determined by how much water is present and the type of material that is absorbing the water. In simplified terms, water classes are arranged by the difficulty and time needed to dry out an area. For formal definitions, see IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration.
Class 1. Limited water intrusion in a room with little sustained damage. Class 1 is applied to rooms that are only partially affected by water, or a room with little or no carpet or pad. Very little if any wicking up the wall is present.
Class 2. Water has spread throughout the room and has wicked up the walls less than 24 inches. Carpet and pad is wet in at least one whole room. Water is absorbed into construction materials such as sub-floor, framing members, etc.
Class 3. Water is invasive as walls, ceiling, structural members, floor coverings, sub-floor, etc. have incurred sustained damage and are virtually saturated with water. Often the cause of the flooding has come from overhead from damaged upstairs plumbing running inside of walls or ceiling, a damaged fire sprinkler line or evaporate cooler line. Wall wicking above 24". May require specialty equipment. Class 4. Water is bound in the material or is inaccessible to conventional air movers. Advanced techniques and specialty equipment is required, as well as longer time periods. Examples of bound water includes water soaked hardwood floor planks, water wicked in sheetrock walls covered with a vinyl wall covering, paneling, or an oil based paint. Inaccessible areas include the cavities beneath and behind cabinets, inside of walls and crawlspace's, etc.
Falling rain Usually considered clean water/ Category 1
Leak in ceilingAs rain contacts dirt, rodent feces, etc. changes to Category 2 or 3.
Washing machine, dishwasher Clean water from hook-up Category 1, water from drain Gray water Category 2
Water heater Usually Category 1, unless floor is dirty or it has been neglected over time (rotting wood, mold, etc.)
Toilet over-flow with urine (no feces)Gray water category 2
Sewer back-up with feces Black water/ Category 3. May contain 100s of bacteria and virus types, including HIV.
Rising flood watersBlack water Category 3 due to coming in contact with disease and chemical toxin found on the ground (fertilizers, pet feces, etc.)