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There are two main elements to water damage restoration – the source of the water and the evaporation rate on the basis of affected materials. These categories and classifications are essential to ensure that after the water damage, the structure is completely dried. Also, depending on the source of water, necessary decontamination processes can be started.
Categories of Water Source
• Category 1: Clean Water – This is water from a sanitary and clean source which would not pose any substantial threat. Examples include drinking fountains, toilet tanks, faucets, broken supply pipes, et al. The degradation of water from this category to the next category is pretty quick.
• Category 2: Grey Water – This is water from a source where significant chemical and biological contaminants may be present. Sickness, discomfort, diseases and other hazards are associated if exposed to this category of water. It is common for grey water to consist of micro-organisms or their nutrients. Common sources include – overflow from washing machine, dishwasher overflows, flushed water from sink drains, water from overflowing toilets with urine but without fecal matter. Stagnant grey water, if not immediately removed, might be reclassified into Category 3 water (black water).
• Category 3: Black Water – Black water is described as “grossly unsanitary” because of the fungal and bacterial agents present in this water. This water can cause serious diseases if ingested. The indoor environment is affected as a result of damage from this category of water. It includes sources like liquid from backed up sewers, water from flooded streams or rivers, overflows from toilet containing fecal matter, stagnant water which supports bacterial growth. Back flows originating beyond toilet trap would fall under Category 3, irrespective of their color or visible content.
Classes of Water Damage
• Class 1: Slow Evaporation Rate – This kind of damage is easy to deal with because of the slow rate of evaporation of the water. Class 1 damage means that only certain parts of the room or the area have been affected by the damage. Also, the affected materials have typically a low rate of permeance like concrete, plywood, et al. Thus, not a lot of water has been absorbed by the materials.
• Class 2: Fast Evaporation Rate – This kind of damage is harder than Class 1 damage because the damage has typically spread to the entire room or area. This includes upholstery like cushions and carpets. The walls have been affected by the wetness too. The wetness has wicked up the walls by 12” (at least). Also, various structural materials still have moisture in them under this class of damage.
• Class 3: Fastest Evaporation Rate – In this damage, water is generally thought to have come from overhead. As a result, the entire area including sub floors, floors, carpets, insulation, walls, ceilings, et al have been saturated by water.
• Class 4: Specialty Drying Situations – In this category, items with extremely low porosity or permeance are involved. For instance – plaster, concrete, brick, hardwood floors, crawlspaces, stone, et al. The amount of liquid and time have been enough to saturate these low porosity materials this this class of damage. Usually, drying involves special low humidity techniques.
Professional water damage restoration companies have trained personnel who can differentiate between the above mentioned categories and classes, and accordingly take the necessary restorative actions on the affected materials. These classes and categories fall under S-500 standards by IICRC.