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May 2018

Understanding categories of water

There are two possible solutions for water damage: drying it out or demolishing the property. Obviously, in any situation, we would hope that drying the damage would be the solution worth considering. But to make the best decision, you have to know just what kind of water you're dealing with, and whether the water has contaminated or affected the physical integrity of the property.

There are three categories of water:

  • Clean water comes from a leak in a pipe, melting snow, a sink overflowing, or rainwater seeping in. The name says it all: it's water that's clean and hasn't been used.
  • Grey water is water that comes from a washing machine, dishwasher, toilet bowl or sprinkler. It's water that's been used but doesn't pose any major danger of contamination if it's dried out in time using the right methods.
  • Finally, black water is wastewater that comes from backed-up sewers or toilets and involves serious risks of contamination. This is obviously the worst category of water—the kind you wouldn't even wish upon your worst enemy.

The names clean, grey and black do not refer directly to the colour of the water but to the degree of contamination. So "black" water is not necessarily black. Obviously, when a basement is full of water, don't enter it: water conducts electricity and you could get electrocuted.

Foor classes of water:

In addition to the categories of water, there are four classes of water, which determine whether drying out damaged property will be fruitful. Class 1 is the easiest to dry, while class 4 will be very difficult due to the saturation of the materials. In all cases, drying out water damage is still an option...as long as it's not more expensive than demolishing the property. In the case of significant water damage, an insurance adjuster can tell you what class of water you're dealing with and recommend the right solutions.

There's no catch-all response to water damage. If it happens to you, don't try to deal with it on your own. The best thing you can do is get on the phone right away with your insurance company so they can call in the experts.

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