Water damage in a home can be a frightening prospect. Whether the damage is from a storm or from a leaking pipe, the water can cause untold amounts of damage to the structure as well as all the belongings inside it. Time is not your friend when you’re dealing with water damage – if you have or suspect you have water damage, do not delay in calling for help and repair from your trusted contractor.
One of the first things that need to be determined when there is water damage is what kind of water caused it. There are three categories of water, rated on their contamination level.
Category One is clean, sanitary water, also known as clear water. This most commonly is found in clean water supply lines, such as those leading to a faucet, or in bottled drinking water. While this water has little or no contamination in itself, it can degrade into a higher category quickly if it comes into contact with outside contaminants in the environment.
Category Two, also known as grey water, is water that is mostly clean but does contain some contaminants. This kind of water is found in washing machine or dishwasher overflow, as well as toilets and bathtubs. This category of water may cause discomfort or illness if ingested, and can degrade into category three if it comes into contact with further contaminants in the environment.
Category Three water, also known as black water, is grossly unsanitary, containing a high level of contamination. It can cause severe illness or even death if ingested. Sources of this kind of water include sewage, flooding from rivers, wind-driven rain, and standing water that supports bacterial growth. If left untreated, all water will eventually reach this level of contamination as it comes into contact with bacteria and other microbes.
Extent of the Damage
Once the water contamination level has been determined, it is next necessary to determine the extent of the damage.
Class One water damage generally only affects a small area, or affects an area with very little porosity such as concrete. With no wet carpet or other highly porous materials, class one damage is the least dangerous and the easiest to repair.
Class Two damage can affect an entire room, and often includes carpet. Water may also have soaked into the walls up to 2 feet. There may be moisture in the structural materials of the building.
Class Three water damage is total saturation of walls, ceilings, insulation, carpet, and walls. Water often comes from overhead in these situations.
Class Four damage is reserved for unique or specialty drying situations, in which materials with low porosity (such as hardwood, plaster, brick, stone, or concrete) have become saturated. There may be very deep pockets of saturation.
Repair will begin with inspection of the area with water sensing equipment, including probes and infrared tools, to locate the source of the damage and its extent. The source of the water will be repaired if possible, such as a leaking pipe. Some damaged materials such as drywall and carpet will be removed and replaced, while other materials such as structural beams or concrete will be dried. Other restoration services will include sanitizing contaminated areas and deodorizing the affected area.
After this labor is completed, equipment for drying such as air movers or scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and specialty floor drying systems may be left in your home for a few days, to ensure that the area is completely dried. If any water is allowed to remain in the area, contamination will continue, causing mold and bacteria growth. After two or three days (or however long is necessary), the area will be reevaluated to be sure that the drying process is complete, and drying equipment will be removed.