Categories and Classes of Water Damage

Not all water related incidents are alike. The source and the sheer amount and size of the water can play an enormous role in not only the extent of the damage caused, but the way the damage needs to be mitigated.

Flood water may need to be handled in a completely different way that the leak from a burst or frozen pipe.  We have provided the definitions as they are described in the IICRC’s S-500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration.

Water, under the IICRC’s S-500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration, has been broken off into three categories. These categories are based upon the level of contamination present, or presumed present, in the source water.

    • Category 1 Water – Refers to a source of water that does not pose substantial threat to humans and classified as “Clean Water”. Examples are broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows or appliance malfunctions that involves water supply lines.
    • Category 2 Water – Refers to a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological or physical contaminants and causes discomfort or sickness when consumed or even exposed to. Known as “Grey Water”. This type carries micro organisms and nutrients of micro organisms. Examples are toilet bowls with urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic failure and water discharge from dishwashers or washing machines.
  • Category 3 Water – Known as “Black Water” and is grossly unsanitary. This water contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness. Type 3 category are contaminated water sources that affects the indoor environment. This category includes water sources from sewage, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water. Category 2 Water or Grey Water that is not promptly removed from the structure and or have remained stagnant may be re classified as Category 3 Water. Toilet back flows that originates from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination regardless of visible content or color.

Furthermore the extent of the mitigation and restoration procedures is determined my the severity of the Water damage. According to IICRC’s S-500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration, water damage can be placed into one of the following classes:

  • Class 1 Water Damage – (least amount of water, absorption and evaporation): Water losses that affect 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 are present.
  • Class 2 Water Damage – (large amount of water, absorption and evaporation): Water losses that affect at least an entire room or carpet and cushion(pad). Water has wicked up walls less than 24”. There is moisture remaining in structural materials (e.g., plywood, particleboard, structural wood, concrete).
  • Class 3 Water Damage – (greatest amount of water, absorption and evaporation): Water wicked up over 24″, or water may have come from overhead affecting ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, cushion and sub-floor. The entire area are saturated.
  • Class 4 Water Damage – (Specialty Drying Situations): These consist of wet materials with very low permeance/porosity (hardwood, plaster, brick, concrete, stone). Typically, there are deep pockets of saturation, which requires very low specific humidity.

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