The following information will help you to understand the many technical terms and definitions associated with water damage.
Category 1 – This first category of water is Sanitary water and it poses no major health risks to you or your family. You can drink it, wash with it, or (if it is steaming), you can inhale it safely. Most of the water that comes into your home will be Category 1 until it leaves its source, either a supply line, an appliance, or melting snow or rain. Category 1 water is also called “Clear Water.”
Once clear water leaves its source, however, it can quickly become contaminated and deteriorate to Category 2 or 3. Water with a foul odor is a good indicator that it has been mixed with soil or other pollutants
Category 2 – This water is definitely contaminated and is unsafe for either contact or consumption by you or your family. Category 2, or Gray Water, is typically “overflow” water from an appliance, toilet, aquarium or waterbed.
Like clear water, gray water will also deteriorate and become foul smelling. This process will take less time to become toxic, and should not go unattended for long.
Category 3 – This category of water is grossly contaminated and may be highly toxic to you and your family. Called Black Water, it may contain raw sewage, pesticides, heavy metals or toxic organic substances.
Unlike the first two categories, Black Water will have a foul smell and likely contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents.
Class of Water is determined by the probable rate of evaporation based on the type of materials affected, or wet, in the room or space that was flooded. Determining the Class of Water in an important first step, and will determine the amount and type of equipment utilized to dry-down the structure.
Class 1 – Low end of the scale. Minor extraction required and few if any materials affected. Quickest drying time.
Class 2 – Middle of the scale. Entire space, or room, flooded with wicking less than 2 feet up walls.
Class 3 – High end of the scale. Usually designates flooding from above. Ceiling and walls saturated above the 2 foot level. Heavy extraction required.
Class 4 – Unique or Specialty drying situations.