Types and Classes of Water Damage

Water damage and mold comes in many shapes and forms, and can leave lasting damage to not only your property your health as well, if not dealt with correctly. One of the first steps to relieving your home of potential water damage is always to determine what kind of water damage you are dealing with. According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) you will find three types of water damage and mold, which they outline in their Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (the S500). Water damage is categorized by its source, period of time in the structure, history of the structure, and other impactful factors like chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, animal feces, fuel, detergents, rat poison, etc .

Category 1
The first kind of water damage they outline is Category 1, which includes burst water pipes, leaking appliances, and small amounts of rainwater. The defining characteristic of Category 1 water is that it is clean at the origin, and therefore does not pose a hazard if consumed by people. Category 1 water requires much less equipment and time to remedy.

Types of Category 1 water damage include, but are not limited to burst water pipes, failed supply lines on appliances, falling rainwater, melting snow or ice, broken toilet tanks, or toilet bowl over flow that does not contain any contaminants. While this type of water damage just isn’t necessarily hazardous, if it is not dealt with it could turn to category 2 within twenty four hours. That time period could be hasten if the right conditions for microorganism growth are present such as for instance stagnant air, humidity, and moderate temperatures (68-86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Category 2
Category 2 water damage, or gray water, is characterized by you start with some amount of contamination at the source, or Category 1 water that has been neglected as mentioned before. This type of water damage and mold is moderately dangerous, and might cause some degree of vomiting or discomfort for people or animals if exposed.

The most typical types of Category 2 water damage are discharge from washing machines or dishwashers, toilet flow overflow with urine but no feces, sump pump back-up, hydrostatic pressure seepage, washing machine overflow, broken aquariums, and puncture water beds. These instances of water damage and mold may contain chemicals, bio-contaminants, and other forms of contamination that are hazardous to human health. Health effects are as follows: allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (lung tissue inflammation), burning eyes, skin irritation, inflammatory response, nausea, headache, and fever. Again, time and conducive temperatures allow for deterioration to a Category 3 within 48 hours.

Category 3
The final and most dangerous form of water damage is Category 3, or black water. Black water is highly contaminated, contains pathogens, and can cause serious illness or even death in extreme conditions. Any person with a weak immune system, respiratory illness, allergies, or young kids should remain away from the structure for the duration of the illness and clean-up.

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Examples of this kind of damage include sewage, ground surface water intrusion, toilet backflow from beyond the trap, and flooding sweater/rivers/streams that have entered the premises. Flooding water brings in silt and other organic matter, that may already have bacteria growing in it, and resting stagnant in your home will only supply a more suitable environment in which microorganisms can grow. Negative health effects from black water are numerous, and include bacterial infections from E. coli, salmonella, and shigella, soil organisms like Streptomyces, saccharopolyspora, thermonospora, viruses like rotavirus, hepatitis, and echovirus, as well as parasites such as giardia, cryptosporidium, and others. In any situation, black water is very serious and needs to be dealt with straight away.