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The Three Different Water Types

Not all water damage cleanup is the same, and we at Total Restoration GC in Indianapolis are witnesses to that. In fact, different types of water require different cleanup techniques. Contaminated water requires extra decontamination and sterilization to restore a healthy indoor environment for you and your family in Indianapolis. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) uses three different categories of contaminated water to determine the type of water damage received, and the correct way to clean it up.

Water is considered contaminated if it contains any level of pollutants that may render it unusable or unable to support basic use. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, water can be contaminated by any of the following: 

  • Agricultural Pollution
  • Nutrient Pollution
  • Sewage
  • Wastewater
  • Oil Pollution
  • Radioactive Substances
  • Other Materials

Water damage from contaminated water not only poses a serious threat to your home, but also to your health. After any type of water damage has occurred, it is important to identify the source and determine the level of contamination so that the proper cleanup method can be performed. 

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Category 1 Water

Water damage from Category 1 Water comes from a clean source. Examples of sanitary water sources include faucets, water heaters, pipes, and toilet tanks. Also termed ‘clean water,’ Category 1 Water is generally harmless to your health, but can still cause significant damage to your home. In as little as 24 hours following water damage, mold can begin to grow. If left untreated for too long, Category 1 Water will degrade and become toxic. Cleanup after water damage from Category 1 Water requires immediate extraction, and complete drying with dehumidification. After drying is complete, all affected areas will then be cleaned. 

Category 2 Water

Category 2 Water damage comes from a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological, and/or physical contaminants. If ingested or contacted, this water can cause sickness and other health symptoms. Because Category 2 Water carries harmful microorganisms, it is also commonly referred to as ‘gray water.’ Sources of gray water include toilet bowls without feces, dishwashers, washing machines, showers, or seepage from hydrostatic failure. Category 2 Water damage cleanup follows the same steps as Category 1 (extraction, and complete drying) up until the cleaning portion. Specific decontamination cleaners and techniques are used to safely and adequately remove all harmful substances, contaminants, and bacteria. Once proper sterilization is complete, then the cleanup process can be finished. In as little as 48 hours, Category 2 Water will quickly degrade into Category 3 Water. 

Category 3 Water

Category 3 Water is also called ‘black water’ because it is grossly contaminated. Black water can contain pathogenic, toxic substances and harbors bacteria, harmful chemicals, ground materials, and disease-causing organisms. Examples of Category 3 Water sources include, but are not limited to: sewage, toilet water containing feces, flood water from seawater, ground surface water, water from rivers or streams, and water from hurricanes, tropical storms, or other weather-related events. Category 3 Water is extremely dangerous and destructive, and requires the use of personal protective equipment, and specialized water extraction, cleaning and drying equipment to mitigate the spread of harmful contaminants and to adequately sanitize the affected area. Due to the high level of contaminants, Category 3 Water cleanup often entails the complete removal of porous materials like drywall, carpet, and upholstery. If ingested or even upon contact, Category 3 Water can cause serious illness and even death. 

No two water damage cases are alike, and each situation needs to be cleaned up based on the unique needs of the type of water. Before attempting to cleanup any type of water damage, even Category 1 Water, it is highly recommended that professionals who are certified by the IICRC handle all water damage cleaning and repairs. If you find yourself facing any type of water damage in Indianapolis, whether from a leaking pipe or a sewage back up, Total Restoration GC is trained and certified to handle all types of water damage cleanup. Let us help protect you and your home from the dangers and risks of water damage, and get your home cleaned up the right way.