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Types of Water Damage: Risks, Causes, and Clean-up

With hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria wreaking havoc across the seaboard, millions of dollars in flood damages have already been assessed, and more are still to come. Whether water damage is caused by leaky pipes, hurricanes, or something in between, the type of water is just as important to identify as the extent of the damage when finding the best restoration route.

Category 1: Clean Water While inconvenient, a clean water leak is the best type of leak. Either drinking water or bath water, this water is already cleaned and intended for use, so interacting with it isn't harmful. This may occur from an overflowing bathtub, a leaky kitchen sink, or a broken sink or tub pipe. Though the water itself isn't harmful, mold and bacteria growth can still result from dampness or standing water.

Category 2: Gray Water Gray water is not safe to interact with and precautions should be taken before investigating the contaminated area. Gray water contains microorganisms, contaminants, or chemicals that can be harmful to the touch or may cause disease. Gray water includes dirty water from washing machines or dishwashers as well as toilet water and sump pump water. Failures from any of these or the pipes attached to them will cause a gray water damage.

Category 3: Black Water Unsurprisingly, this is the most harmful type of water damage. Black water contains microorganisms, contaminants and chemicals as well as dangerous bacteria and fungi. Black water leaks or floods should only be handled by a professional with appropriate safety gear. Black water comes from sewage as well as flood water from river, oceans, or lakes. If clean water or gray water is allowed to stagnate, it can become black water.

Once the type of water is identified, either by investigating the water or knowing the source, the extent of the damage will determine the type of restoration necessary.

Class 1: Litte moisture was absorbed by the surrounding area and only a small area was affected. This may occur through a leaky pipe.

Class 2: A larger area has been affected, and carpets, fabrics, and some wall sections may be damaged. This may be caused by an overflowing bathtub, broken washer, or blocked toilet.

Class 3: A large area is affected including every section of the area, from the floors to the ceiling, usually resulting from water flooding an area and dripping down from the ceiling.

Class 4: The last class of water damage is for special materials, such as hardwood floors, concrete, or plaster, which often occurs in basements. Class 4 water damage requires specialized drying methods.

While hurricanes will undoubtedly cause Class 3 and Class 4 damage due to black water, other types of flooding can be just as damaging. Avoid illness and call an expert to assess water damage and find the best method of restoration. Call as soon as you notice a problem to reduce the damage as much as possible.

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Oct 27, 2020

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