Water Damage What Now What Next

floodedbath October 9, 2017 10:00 am

This will be a three part series explaining what takes place when you have water damage in your home or business.

There are several necessary steps. First, identify the source of moisture and eliminate it immediately if possible. This can be as simple as locating and shutting off the individual water supply line water or water main. Knowing where and how to shut off the water is critical to minimizing the amount of water and ensuing damage it causes. Looking for health hazards that may be present like electrical shock, falling ceilings, and possible tracking of contaminants from affected area to non-affected areas.

Understanding the category and class of water loss will address what concerns are more likely than others. According to the ANSI/IICRC S500 2016 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration there are three basic categories of water.

Category 1
Originates from a sanitary (clean water) and poses no substantial risk from dermal ingestion, or inhalation exposure. However, it may not always remain clean after it comes in contact with other surfaces or materials. Example of clean water sources: sink overflows, burst water supply lines, water heater, sprinkler system, toilet tank breaking or toilet running over with clean water are all sources of potable water. If this water dwells for a period of four plus days it is probable theses sources will become category 2 water losses.

Category 2
Contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans. It may contain potentially unsafe levels of microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms, as well as other organic or inorganic matter (chemically or biological). Non-clean also known as grey water does not have to look grey or dirty to be hazardous to your health. Some examples of category 2 water are fish tank water, laundry machine overflow, water coming up through the concrete slab, rain water coming through building materials, Toilet overflows with urine in the bowl.

Category 3
Grossly contaminated and may contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents. Such water sources may carry silt, organic matter, pesticides, heavy metals, regulated materials, or toxic or organic substances. When water backs up from beyond the toilet ptrap it is considered category 3 water. Flooding is also considered category 3 water. Time and temperature can also adversely affect the quality of water, thereby changing its category. After a Category 2 water has a dwell time of four plus days it is likely to become category 3, also known as black water. Like grey water black water does not need to look black to be considered harmful. Sewage water can look like clean water and be very dangerous. Gross contaminated water may have toilet paper and other solids and may likely have a detectable odor. This odor will magnify the longer it remains.

4 Primary Classifications of Water Damage Classes
Water damage relate to the amount of water and the size of the area affected giving you a more objective means of estimating the evaporation load in a building, basing it on amount of affected materials to be dried rather than by vague descriptions.

  • Class 1 is the least amount of water, absorption and evaporation. It affects only part of a room or area, or larger areas containing materials that have absorbed minimal moisture. Little or no wet carpet and/or cushion is present.
  • Class 2 involves a large amount of water, absorption and evaporation. It affects at least an entire room of carpet and cushion (pad). Water has wicked up walls less than 24 inches. There is moisture remaining in structural material and substructure soil.
  • Class 3 involves the greatest amount of water, absorption and evaporation. Water may have come from overhead. Ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, cushion and subfloor in virtually all of the entire area are saturated.
  • Class 4 relates to specialty drying situations. Wet materials with very low permeance/porosity (eg. hardwood, plaster, brick, concrete, light-weight concrete and stone). Typically, there are deep pockets of saturation, which require very low specific humidity. Materials with low porosity are more difficult to dry and take longer drying times. Multiple layers of material also make it difficult to remove moisture and take longer to dry. An example of multiple of moisture barriers would be plaster, button board, wall paper and wainscoting or paneling.
  • After identifying and stopping the water source and removing any health hazards, the next step would to be to remove any personal contents and block any furniture that may be in areas with moisture to keep them from getting further damaged. Blocking furniture consist of elevating it off the ground with dense foam blocks or non- staining pieces of wood. Heavy wood or metal filing cabinets will require the wood underneath for more support until furniture can be safely removed. If the furniture has legs you can place plastic, wax paper or aluminum foil tabs underneath to prevent rust marks and furniture stains from getting on the carpet or rugs if you have any. Contents, furniture, appliances, electronics, wall coverings. Etc. need to be photographed, inventoried, packed and removed from the affected areas to prevent them from being damaged. Often it is best to have these items professionally removed off site to allow access to the wet walls, carpet, rugs or floors below. Furniture manipulation often will be necessary prior to moving the contents offsite to allow for through water extraction, drying and flooring removal if necessary. The quicker you get the drying started the less damage will occur.

    In our next article of this three part series we will start off with the importance of quick water removal and drying.

    Author: Vince

    Vincent J. Attardo is the President/CEO of Coastline Environmental Solutions, Inc. He provides Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) investigations, mold and bacteria testing, water damage/mold remediation and repair, and is available for consultation and public speaking. For more information please visit www.coastlineclean.com. Readers may contact him at 800-847-3867 or email at vince@coastlineclean.com.