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Water Damage: Categories and Classes

Water damage can be a real tough problem to deal with, and, as with anything, it is best to be able to formulate a plan to properly tackle the potentially difficult and costly process. Water damage is separated into three different categories of water and four different classes of water damage. The three categories of water include clean water, gray water, and black water. These classes are used to identify the level of contamination in the water supply. The four classes of water are numbered, and describe the presumed rate of evaporation based on which materials are soaked by the flood.

First we will cover the categories in greater depth. Category one is the least threatening type of water. In fact, it is classified clean water. Clean water is just regular water leaks, that do not contain many pollutants and bacterium. This water can be introduced through broken water supply lines, faulty appliance malfunctions, or sink overflows. If this water is quickly cleaned, it should pose no extra danger. Category two refers to water that is contaminated. This water is referred to as gray water, and can cause discomfort or sickness because it includes chemical or biological contaminants. This water usually includes, or is capable of supporting, significant microorganisms. Examples of gray water include water discharge from dishwashers and washing machines and sump pump failures. The final, and most dangerous, category is known as black water. This water is extremely unsanitary and is known to contain bacteria and fungi, which cause difficult health circumstances. This is the most difficult type of water to deal with and can negatively impact an indoor environment, and bring with it mold issues. Uncleaned gray water can become black water if not properly treated, which can also come from sewage water and floods from any body of standing water. Black water should be treated with care and removed as quickly as possible.

Now, we move on to the issue of classifying the water, to realize how best to deal with its different drying issues. Separating the water damage by class can help best pick the tool for the job, and even understand when a job is too big to do without help. Class 1 includes a slow rate of evaporation, but this is because the water is spread upon a surface with few pores. Little water can be absorbed by the material, so it can easily be cleaned directly off of the surface. Water that evaporates at a slightly faster rate can be rated class 2. This class of water damage affects entire rooms of carpet because of the quickness of evaporation, and can even start to rise up the walls. However, the walls can not be affected further than 2 feet before the class would be raised to class 3. Class 3 is the fastest rate of evaporation. In this scenario water affects an entire area. This includes all six sides of a room. Floors, entire walls, and ceilings can be complete losses or damaged entirely. Finally, water damage can be called class 4. Class 4 water damage is once again based on a material with very few pores. Water is in such a large and persistent supply that it causes these very hardy surfaces to become damaged. Drying can involve specialty equipment and specific training.

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