Classes of Water Damage

At the core of any water damage problem, the goal is always the same, to completely remove all excess water and dry everything up. What is less known is that the process getting there is not always the same. Water damage comes from different sources, there are different types of water, and water affects different materials in different ways. It becomes imperative to know what type of water damage scenario you are working with in order to properly remediate it.

Image of class 3 water damage

Class 3 water damage (from above)

Whenever dealing with water damage cleanup a restoration company needs to start off answering two questions: What is the category of water damage and what is the class? We have already covered the three categories of water damage (see post dated10/03/2011) which we know categorizes the type of water affecting the loss and will now cover the various classes. Class of water damage is determined by the amount of water that has entered the structure as well as the rate of evaporation that is expected from the affected materials as they dry. This determination is an important step for a mitigation company as it establishes the amount of dehumidification and air movement expected as well as the time required to dry the structure.

There are four different classes of water damage:


Class 1 Water Damage: Slow Rate of Evaporation

This is a water damage scenario that affects only a small part of a room with low permeance/porosity materials, such as plywood, particle board, or concrete. Carpets and cushions don’t usually play a large part in the clean up process, and a minimum amount of moisture is absorbed by materials, and these materials release that moisture very slowly.

Most Class 1 cases are easily cleaned up in a relatively short amount of time, with a minimum of equipment. Typically excess water may be removed with a wet-dry vacuum unit as well as the use of several fans to aid in air circulation.

Class 2 Water Damage: Fast Rate of Evaporation

This is a type of water loss that may affect a room that is heavy with carpeting or cushions, and water may have wicked up the walls for a level of 24 inches or less. There will be moisture remaining in structural materials such as plywood and concrete.

Due to the depth of the water, a more sophisticated pump may be required. Water should be pumped out at the rate of about a third a day in order to prevent further damage. Fans, blowers, and dehumidifiers will be required to remove residual moisture and bring down humidity levels. Drying time may take a period of two or three days.

Class 3 Water Damage: Fastest Rate of Evaporation

This is a scenario where the water may have come from overhead, with the ceiling, walls, insulation, and carpeting saturated.

The level of damage will be more severe in Class 3 cases, requiring multiple pumps, fans, air movers, and dehumidifiers. Blowers may also be utilized to remove water and excess moisture from within walls or attic situations. Such a level of structural damage may also require a considerable amount of restoration and reconstruction, as ceilings may sag or collapse and floors damaged by water may warp or crack. The estimated repair time may be several days or even weeks, depending on the depth and severity of the problem.

Class 4 Water Damage: Specialty Drying Situations

Class 4 losses involve wet materials with extremely low porosity such as hardwood, subfloors, plaster, or stone. These tend to be identified by deep pockets of saturation in the affected materials that require very low levels of humidity in order to draw out the water, so extra dehumidification is required.

Regardless of the class of water damage it is important first and foremost to locate the source of the water and shut it off. This not only prevents more water from coming in and making a bad situation worse, but also allows you to determine what type of water you are dealing with (category and class). So turn off the water at the source (if possible and safe to do so) and then call for professional help.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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