3 Categories of Water Damage and How to Handle Each Water Type
Water damage caused by a leak or flooding can cause damage to your house pretty quickly. How you handle the damage will depend on the type of water damage and the scope of the damage.
It’s important that you have the right tools to perform a smaller amount of water damage should it occur. However larger and more severe water damage will require professional cleanup and restoration equipment that most homeowners will not have.
What is Water Damage?
Water damage is when one or more types of water, damage your home in one capacity or another. This damage can be to your flooring, walls, electrical, insulation or other areas of your house.
Water damage occurs when water of any kind begins to accumulate and pool in a given area without being able to run off. Water damage can cause staining, discoloring of the area and even more severe damages to destroying a house. To detect water damage it’s a good idea to have a water sensor system of some kind.
What are the Types of Water?
There are 3 main categories of water they are:
- Clean water
- Grey water
- Black water
Below we will go into each kind and what you need to do to treat the respective types of water damage.
Categories of Water Damage
Category 1 Water: Clean Water
Category 1 water damage is water that comes from a clean source. This means that the water is from a clean source and does not pose a threat to people.
This type of water damage can be caused from a broken hot water tank (see this Low Hot Water Pressure: The 5 Causes and What To Do) or can involve water lines breaking or leaking in the house, like a leaking flexible hose under your sink that goes undetected for a week.
The leaks are commonly seen in household items that have either overflown such as a bathtub, or sink. Or a malfunction in an appliance like an ice maker, dishwasher or washing machine, where the automatic shut off feature doesn’t work and the water keeps pumping out.
Related: What to do if you have carpet in your wet basement.
How to Handle Clean Water
When you have clean water damage depending on the amount you can clean it up with towels and fans like you would when you have water damage on wood floors. In larger cases you may need a sump pump to get rid of the extra water you have in your basement and depending on the damage you will need to contact your insurance agent for the proper treatment of the walls and flooring to ensure that there is no mold or mildew issues.
If you are dealing with a category 1 water damage and it’s within the first 24 to 48 hours there are minimal health risks. However the longer the water damage is left untreated the large a risk it can pose turning it into a category 2 water damage.
Category 2 Water: Grey Water
Grey water, is the water that has a certain amount of contaminants in it that would cause illness if you were to consume it or exposed to it.
This type of water, commonly referred to as grey water, is in every home. It is the water that is has been used then discharged from dishwasher, washing machines and showers. It is the water that is in toilets which have urine in it but without fecal matter.
This water can also happen when a sump pump fails (see about sump pump maintenance here) and water comes back into the house.
How to Handle Grey Water
Category 2 water damage can pose health risks and can lead to illness. For this type of water damage it’s best to contact a professional and have them properly clean the affected area and treat it with the necessary chemicals to make sure there is no bacterial growth. Exposure to grey water, both direct and indirect, can cause damage to your health.
Category 3 Water: Black Water
This water is unsanitary and can be dangerous to your health. They are water from your septic tank that flows back into the house, sewer back ups,
Black water is dangerous because of the bacteria that is present in it and its potential to cause illness and spread viruses and cause infection.
How to Handle Black Water
3 Steps for Handling Water Damage
If you find you have water damage to deal with in your home here are the 3 steps you should take immediately.
- Determine water type: Refer to above to see which type of water category you are dealing with
- Consider the health risks: Once you know the water type determine if you are capable of dealing with it or if you need to contact a restoration professional and a plumber.
- Stop the spread and move items to a dry place: Once you have identified the water and where it is coming from, stop the spread and move all potential items in the area to prevent them from being damaged. Here’s where to get free cardboard boxes.
Type of Water Damage FAQ
Can water damage be fixed?
Yes water damage can be fixed. But in many cases there will be several steps that need to happen with a restoration service to get the area back to new. As our builder told us, there’s nothing that here that can’t be rebuilt but that of course comes at a price and takes time.
How bad is water damage?
Severe water damage can cause foundation issues, structural damage as well as cosmetic damage to a home. Plus there is the loss of personal possessions and the stress of having to move to have the home restored.
Water damage ranges on a scale of 1 to 10. From a spilt glass of water (a 1) to sewage backing up into your house (a 10) there is a range of issues that arise for each one. The best thing you can do is to assess the damage and contact your insurance provider to see what can be done and what coverage you have.
When it is possible it is best to maximize the ways to prevent water damage to your home by using as many tactics as possible.
Is water damage an emergency?
Yes, the longer any type of water is entering your house the larger the risk. Make sure to identify what type of water it is and deal with it quickly. The longer you leave it the worse it can get.
What are the signs of water damage?
Water damage can easily be spotted in will leave a ring of water around the damaged area and will discolor the ceiling, walls and carpet if left for too long. Other signs of identifying water damage are:
- Sound of dripping water
- Water pools
- Dark spots on ceiling
- Wet spots on walls and floors
- Musty and damp smells
- Extra humidity
- Cracking and flaking of paint