What Are the Three Types of Water Damage?

An estimated 14,000 people in the US call out a professional to deal with a water damage emergency at their homes or at work per day – and basements across the country have a 98% chance to be damaged by water at some point. 

So, water damage is extremely common. And, more importantly, it needs to be addressed immediately to prevent more severe structural damage to the building and extremely costly repairs. 

But not all types of water damage can be addressed by homeowners without the necessary equipment. So, how can you be sure you can face the emergency by yourself? In the sections below, we’ll show you everything you need to know about the three different water damage categories, what causes water damage, and what to do in each situation. Read on!

Clean Water Damage

The first category of water damage – or Category 1 Water Damage  – is the one caused by clean water and the one deemed the least severe by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification scale. 

This is the most common type of water damage in buildings across the country and is caused by issues such as:

  • Broken, burst, or perforated pipes
  • Broken water supply lines
  • Overflowed sinks or bathtubs
  • Appliances issues
  • Leakages
  • Rainwater 

The reason why this type of water damage is considered less severe is that it usually only involves clean water. Clean water refers to that water that is free of toxins and sewage, and so does not present a health risk for humans or animals. 

This type of water damage can be easily fixed by drying the affected area. If you have partnered with an experienced company, a professional will analyze the area and proceed to rinse it. 

This type of water damage can usually be resolved without long-lasting structural or health-related consequences – but only if it is addressed immediately! In fact, Category 1 Water Damage can turn into Category 2 Water Damage if left unaddressed for just over 48 hours because the water becomes exposed to contaminants and bacteria that can make it harmful to human and animal health. 

Ultimately, while Category 1 Water Damage is the least severe type of water damage, it can quickly turn into a costly headache if overlooked!

Grey Water Damage

The second type of water damage – or Category 2 water damage – is the one involving grey water. Grey water refers to the water coming from home appliances like toilets, washing machines, baths, kitchen appliances, and sump pump backups. This type of water damage might derive from:

  • Overflowing toilets
  • Broken sump pump lines
  • Malfunctioning appliances

Generally, it is considered to be relatively clean wastewater because it might not cause harm if consumed or touched. Nonetheless, if an area of the house or household items have gotten into contact with this type of water, drying them might not be sufficient as they might have absorbed waste, bacteria, and contaminants. 

Therefore, any item that has gotten into contact with grey water in a grey water damage emergency should be removed, washed, and disinfected. 

Compared to clean water damage, Category 2 water damage is far more serious and might require the interventions of a specialized restoration company – even if the damage is limited to a certain area of the house. 

Remember that clean water damage can easily turn into grey water damage if left unaddressed for over 48 hours. And, a professional will respond to your call immediately to repair the water damage as soon as it happens. Nonetheless, if you cannot find help immediately, you can start limiting the damage by drying some of the affected surfaces. While doing so, keep in mind that it is not clean water that you are dealing with, and you should wear skin, eyes, and mouth protection throughout the operation. 

Black Water Damage

While less frequent in standard households, Category 3 water damage is one of the most severe types of water damage and can cause long-lasting structural damages to your property. 

This type of water damage involves black waters, which are contaminated waste waters that are potentially harmful to the health of humans and animals. 

This kind of water damage requires immediate intervention to limit severe health risks and should only be treated by professionals. 

Category 3 water damage can be caused by:

  • Sewages
  • Rising floodwaters
  • Seawater
  • River water
  • groundwater

If you have experienced this kind of water damage, most items affected will need to be removed and your home disinfected. Don’t try to clean up Category 3 water damage by yourself as this could involve a severe health risk for you and your family. 

Consult An Expert

As we have seen above, not all types of water damage are exactly the same. Nonetheless, there are some points that they have in common. Firstly, you should always find the help of a professional when dealing with water damage. And second, you should address the issue immediately to limit damage and risks. Get in touch today to find out what we can do for you. 


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