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Water Damage (Part 1)

Posted on: Tuesday March 1, 2022 at 2:23 PM

Water damage is one of the most common types of disasters that occur in homes and offices and can rapidly create many unexpected difficulties. It's important if water damage occurs to your property that it is mitigated quickly and properly by a professional who is trained in water mitigation techniques. Everyone needs to be educated on water damages in case your home or office experiences a broken pipe, ruptured water heater, leaking attic A/C condensate pan or one of the many other types of water events that often take place. The following is an interview that we had with CEO of American Restoration, Mason Venable, to learn more about the types of water disasters and why it's important to hire a trained and certified professional.

What are the different types of water damage and what is American Restoration's role in cleanup?

Water losses are classified into 3 different categories and are outlined in the IICRC S-500 water damage manual. Check out our Dealing with Water Damage infographic for additional information.

Class 1 is Clear water that comes from a fresh water source and is safe to drink. For these type losses, we respond, determine the extent of the damage, contain the damages, demo what cannot be saved, extract any standing or trapped water and then dry. Once dry, usually in 3 to 5 days, we most often handle the rebuild and our client's lives return to normal.

Class 2 is referred to as Grey water, which despite the name, is often clear. This type of water may have some soap or potential contaminates. This type of water damage can be the result of:

  • Washing machine or dishwasher overflow
  • Clogged French drain exit pipes where water backs back into the building
  • Commodes containing urine which overflows into the building

If not addressed quickly, within 24 hours, Grey water turns to Black (explained below). These type losses are very similar to Class 1 with regards to the mitigation and repair process, but we exercise a higher degree of care and always lean on the side of caution.

Class 3 or Black water is water related to fecal matter from toilets, fish tanks, broken sewer lines, creek or river flooding etc. When dealing with Black Water, if the affected material is porous and can absorb contaminates, EPA guidelines says to discard. We also operate under the premises that "If in doubt, throw it out".

These type losses require similar but different mitigation procedures and are often times far more expensive than Class 1 or 2 type losses. We take the following precautions and practice these procedures to ensure that the area is mitigated properly and safely:

  • Full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is always worn by our mitigation team
  • Full face respirators or half face with a full face splash guard are worn
  • We use botanical disinfectants that treat blood borne pathogens
  • Air moving equipment is used sparingly until the contaminates are contained and removed
  • Hydroxyl or Ozone equipment is often used to control odor
  • Negative HEPA air scrubbing equipment is required by both the IICRC and EPA so as to help control the affected air borne particulate
  • Most often, the site is tested and cleared by either an Environmentalist or a Certified Industrial Hygienist.

What is the most common type of water "disaster" that you see?

Class 1 losses are by far the most common and I would guesstimate probably make up about 80% or more of the type we deal with. This is due to the gross volume of water pipes that run throughout homes or businesses. Current statistics show that there are 72 water losses per every 100,000 households on a monthly basis (statistics exclude losses that occur but are never reported as well as all commercial losses). We encounter a healthy mixture of broken pipes, broken icemaker lines, ruptured clothes washer supply lines, broken water pipe connections to kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks and toilet tanks. We also see tons of ruptured water heater tanks and overflow drain pans from attic air conditioning units. Taking into account all the sources of fresh water within a home or business, one can easily see why far more water losses fall within the Class 1 category.

We see an equal balance of Class 2 and 3 losses as the number of sources are limited. Losses originate due to toilets that back up from clogged internal sewer lines, a full septic tank or external sewer lines that have collapsed from age or have been affected by tree roots. Sewer backups can also occur due to problems with municipal sewer lines which usually enter the home or business under great amounts of pressure, thus resulting in sizable coverage areas.

We have also seen fish tanks develop cracks and explode, allowing fish fecal matter and contaminated water to cover large areas. Fish tanks rupture under normal circumstances but are also almost always affected during a fire situation. Mitigation difficulties are compounded due to the lack of power to run drying equipment in fire situations.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Water Damage blog as Mason gives us prevention tips on how to avoid water damage in your home or office!