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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Familiarizing Yourself With the 3 Classifications of Floodwaters | SERVPRO® of East Erie County

3/4/2021 (Permalink)

Shows a man ringing out a wet towel in a pail.  Water is covering the floor because the washing machine overflowed. Classes of water damage.

Not all water is created equal when it comes to water damage as there are three classifications for it: clean, gray and black. By gaining a better understanding of the different types of water, you will understand how to better handle a water damage situation.

You will always have a cleanup and restoration process to go through no matter what type of water has caused damage. However, before cleanup can begin, the most important aspect is removing all of the moisture and damp items quickly, so as not to enable mold to flourish in an ideal environment.

The Least Dangerous: Clean Water

Obviously, much like its name states, this water is considered “clean” and should not be the type to pose an immediate threat to your health. This water is free of contaminants and can come from:

  • Broken water lines
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Toilet holding tanks
  • Snow melt and rainwater

This type of water damage is the easiest type of water damage to deal with, as there will be fewer microbes living in the water, but it can become gray water after 48 hours and after contact with the surfaces of a building, moving it up to category two.

Middle of the Road Danger: Gray Water

Gray water is where water damage cleanup and restoration can become a bit more tricky. It may be water that could pose a health risk, due to it containing chemical or biological contamination. The slight contamination involved with gray water means that it would need to be thoroughly treated before being safe to consume.

Gray water is water that comes from dishwashers, aquariums, showers, etc. and, as always, the 48-hour exposure time applies here as well, with gray water turning into black water if not treated.

The Most Dangerous: Black Water

Black water is the most dangerous of the three classifications and is considered to be highly contaminated with harmful chemicals and biological matter. This would include floodwaters containing soil and all sewage waters.

Sewage is contaminated with microbes, including bacteria, protozoans, molds, fungi and more—many of which are harmful to humans and create a health hazard.

Diseases that can be transmitted by black water are:

  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis
  • Gastroenteritis-type illnesses

Remember, whenever there is a flood, all waters should be assumed to be black water since it will pick up contaminants along its path.

These three classifications of floodwater are recognized by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Remediation Certification (IICRC), which is an organization that certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industry. Our technicians have all studied IICRC standards, have learned the best practices in water restoration and are available to help determine the steps to take to get your home back to normal.

It doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage to your home or business, SERVPRO® of East Erie County is here to help get the situation under control and make it "Like it never even happened." Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need emergency cleanup and restoration services!

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