Water Damage Categories

No property owner wants to find water pooling in their basement or dripping from the ceiling, but issues like these are far more common than you might realize. Water damage may seem like a quick fix, but often happens unseen behind walls and ceilings, where it can linger and become exponentially more severe and expensive over time. The varying water damage threats depend on the amount of contamination and how long it remains untreated. Once you understand the types and nature of water damage, you can get a better idea of the strategies taken to fix it and what can be salvageable.

Types of Water Damage

We classify water damage depending on the water’s source and potential contaminants after coming into contact with materials. Cleanliness plays a significant role in determining water damage severity and its associated risks.

Each water damage category has different strategies, techniques and materials used for repair and restoration.

  • Category 1: Clean water
  • Category 2: Significantly contaminated water
  • Category 3: Grossly contaminated water

Regardless of the water damage you have experienced, contact our team immediately. We can act quickly to help you limit any resulting structural issues and additional harm done to your property.

Category 1 Water Damage

Category 1 water damage involves water that originates from a sanitary water source and does not contact contaminants or hazardous materials. This category includes water from:

  • Water supply lines
  • Melting ice or snow
  • Rainwater
  • Clean toilet tank water

Clean water damage often originates from broken pipes, overflow from sinks and bathtubs, damaged water supply lines and various appliance issues. Clean water does not pose any threat to people or animals if ingested, inhaled or dermally applied. If you have category 1 water damage, it may be possible to salvage materials like drywall, carpet and flooring with quick intervention and experienced repairs.

Often, the water damage restoration process includes draining the affected area, finding the source of the issue, then drying, dehumidifying, disinfecting, sanitizing and restoring. Depending on your insurance coverage, your insurance company can assist with expenses and build a plan to finance your repair costs. If clean water sits for more than 24 to 48 hours, it can gradually turn into gray water.

Category 2 Water Damage

Category 2 water damage involves compromised water originating from clean sources, known as gray water. Gray water contains a significant amount of contaminants and can cause unpredictable discomfort and long-term sickness if consumed.

Gray water damage can involve:

  • Dishwasher/washing machine discharge
  • Contaminated toilet water
  • Hydrostatic seepage water
  • Aquarium leakage
  • Punctured waterbeds

With category 2 water damage, materials like drywall, flooring and carpeting might not be salvageable due to unsanitary gray water. Category 2 water damage requires urgent cleaning and disinfecting so you can avoid future harmful effects such as odors, mold and mildew, pest infestations and unsafe air quality. When starting the cleanup process, remove all affected items to dry and disinfect them. If gray water sits for more than 24 to 48 hours, it can eventually turn into black water.

Category 3 Water Damage

Category 3 water damage is the most toxic type, and it comes from severely contaminated water known as black water. Due to its high contamination levels, it can cause adverse reactions when ingested or touched. It can be pathogenic, toxigenic and have harmful agents. Black water sources can include:

  • Sewage
  • Waste line backflows
  • Seawater
  • Rising floodwaters
  • Wind-driven rainwater from hurricanes and tropical storms

Often, materials affected by category 3 water damage are unsalvageable due to the black water’s toxic nature. Black water damage requires urgent and immediate action with disinfectants and anti-microbial cleaners to mitigate severe health risks. Improperly disinfected black water can also cause mold, mildew and pest infestations. Depending on the issue’s location and how long it takes to repair, it can damage your property severely enough to affect the foundation.

What Are the Classes of Water Damage?

During the water damage restoration process, professionals can identify your problem’s severity and how to repair it.

  1. Class 1: This class of damage is the least harmful and urgent and may only occur in one small part of the room. Affected materials absorb little water and usually do not need much heavy cleaning and disinfecting.
  2. Class 2: Class 2 has a fast evaporation rate and often affects the entire room where damages occur. This class can compromise things that readily absorb water, including couches and their cushions, carpets and most things made of fabric. It’s possible to salvage many affected materials with appropriate drying and disinfecting methods.
  3. Class 3: This class of damage involves a significant amount of water and can affect ceilings, floors/subfloors, walls and insulation. The damaged materials require thorough drying and disinfecting, and even then, they might not be salvageable.
  4. Class 4: Class 4 damage requires specialty drying and disinfecting solutions. This level of damage often affects less permeable materials including hardwood floors, plaster, crawlspaces and concrete. The drying process generally involves a low humidity level to complete.

What You Can Do About Water Damage

If you find or suspect any signs of water damage, please reach out to us immediately for experienced restoration services. There are many risks to cleaning and repairing affected water-damaged areas yourself, which may include electrocution, illness and injury. Speaking with our professionals can give you peace of mind and can reduce the risk of long-lasting damage. Contact our professionals by going to ServiceMaster of Lincoln Park or calling us at 773-346-6767. When you notice water damage, we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your call, so don’t hesitate to contact us at any time!

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