Category and Class of Water Damage

Sandbags Outside Front Door Of Flooded House

Category 1: Clean Water
This type poses no threat to health. However, it can degrade to a Category 2 if not dealt with quickly. It often comes from drinking sources, such as:

  • Leaky faucets also the pipes and fittings under the sink, which can go unnoticed for long periods of time.
  • Leaky toilet tanks without cleaning agents like bleach or bromine pucks.
  • Rain and sprinklers coming through an open window or leaky roof.
  • Burst pipes though this often leads to a higher-class due to the amount of water.
  • Water Heaters

Category 2: Grey Water
This type of floodwater poses some health threat. It may contain harmful contaminants such as detergents which may cause minor illness. If not treated, it can quickly degrade to a serious threat due to the growth of mold and bacteria. Common causes of grey water flooding:

  • Overflowing dishwashers and washing machines. Contains soaps and detergents. Special care should be taken to remove staining or bleaching detergents from carpets.
  • Toilets containing urine or cleaning agents. This does not include sewage backup or feces.

Category 3: Black Water
This category contains contaminants that will cause serious health issues and possibly death. Only professionals should handle most large-scale black water accidents such as flooding. Some cleanup, like a backed-up toilet, can be handled by competent homeowners. This type of cleanup and repair is usually the most expensive, often requiring specialized equipment used by qualified mold and chemical remediation crews. It will often require replacement not cleaning of the affected home materials. Common causes of black water flooding:

  • Sewage backups from drains and septic systems.
  • Flooding usually from overflowing rivers or lakes, or from contaminated groundwater.
  • Storm surges often causing secondary flooding from streams and groundwater

Class 1
This is the easiest and usually least expensive to clean and repair. Only a section of a room is affected with very little wet carpeting. A typical Class 1 would be a small leak in a faucet. Class 1/Category 1 damage can often be repaired by a competent homeowner or a professional with very little expense.

Class 2
Has affected an entire room, including the walls up to at least 12 inches. Moisture remains in the structure and will need cleanup as well as some repairs.

Class 3
Has saturated the ceilings, walls, floors, and even subflooring and insulation. Usually, the moisture has come from above like a burst pipe.

Class 4
Damage from long standing water falls in this class, like river flooding or storm surges from a hurricane. It has saturated materials such as stone, brick, and hardwood. These materials have low permeance meaning they do not soak up liquids quickly. Time is the primary factor in this category. With a higher cost of cleanup and repair, it is important to get problems diagnosed and solved as quickly as possible.


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