There are many different situations where water damage may occur, and depending on the source, water that causes damage to your home can be categorized into three basic types: clean water, gray water, and black water. Professional restoration companies will use different techniques to remove the water depending on its classification. Some types of water damage are more dangerous than others—not just to the structure of the building, but also to you and your family.
Clean Water is the first category of water that can cause damage to your home. Clean water comes from a source that is—unsurprisingly—clean, like a sink or bathtub overflow, broken water line, or appliance malfunction. Clean water sources usually do not contain any contaminants, but be careful—what starts out as category 1 damage could easily become a higher category if it’s not taken care of as quickly as possible.
Gray Water comes from a source that may contain contaminants. Common sources of gray water include snow/rainfall, dishwasher or washing machine overflows, or toilet overflows that don’t contain feces. Again, when left untreated, a gray water situation could quickly become more dangerous.
Black Water is considered the most dangerous category that could damage your home. Black water includes sewage, flood waters from rivers or streams, or ground water. That means it also contains pathogenic, fungal, and viral contaminations, pesticides, or heavy metals. Black water is a serious health risk to anyone who comes in contact with it unprotected. When removing black water, full personal protection is worn by the mitigation company, from facemasks to coveralls. Also, anything that is contaminated by black water is unusable and will have to be thrown away.
So, what should you do about the different types of water damage? Any water damage should be dealt with as soon as possible, since the longer you wait to dry your house, the harder—and more expensive—the process will be. Black water in particular should be considered an emergency because of the dangerous contaminants; however, the safest course of action with any type of residential water damage is to call for professional help as soon as you can.
If your home has water damage, the removal method will depend largely on not only the category of water, but how long it has been stagnant. Items like carpeting may be salvageable in some situations, but it may need to be discarded in others. That’s why it’s always safest to have a professional restoration company handle water cleanup in your house. They can help you determine what is safe to clean, decontaminate, dry and keep, as well as what needs to be thrown out.