Any type of water damage can cause major damage to your property. Anyone who has ever experienced even a minor spill will attest to the chore it can be to properly clean it all up with unsightly stains or musty smells being left over. What is less common knowledge is that not all water damageis created equal. Different types of water can cause different types of damage, and the process involved in getting it cleaned up will vary from type to type as well.
The first step in any kind of water damage restoration is to locate the source of the water and shut it off. This not only prevents more water from coming in and causing additional damage, but it also allows you to determine what kind of water you may be dealing with.
According to the IICRC website, there are three basic classifications of water:
Category 1 Water – also known as Clean Water, this is water that is uncontaminated at the source and poses no health risk if exposed to humans or animals. Some common sources of clean water would include overflowed sinks or tubs, as well as incoming water lines for dishwashers or washing machines. Proper remediation includes removing the excess water and thoroughly drying out the affected surface.
Category 2 Water – also known as Grey Water, this is water that may have a degree of contaminants from the source location, and may cause some discomfort or illness of exposed to or ingested by humans and animals. Appliance discharge, a broken fish tank, and overflowing toilet bowls would be examples of Grey Water. Proper remediation includes removal of the excess water, and thorough drying, cleaning and disinfecting of the damages area.
Category 3 Water – also known as Black Water, this is water that is highly contaminated at the source, containing viruses, bacteria, and pathogenic agents, and may cause severe discomfort or illness if exposed to or consumed by humans or animals. The most common source for black water would be sewage overflow or backflow, or even rising water from rivers and streams. Black Water is extremely hazardous and should always be remediated by a trained water damage restoration professional.
Bear in mind that none of these Categories are permanent states. Category 1 water may become Category 2, and Category 2 may become Category 3 if not promptly treated and removed. Typically there is a period of about 72 hours before the Category status should be reconsidered. In any major case of water damage, it is always advisable to contact a qualified, IICRC certified professional. They are properly equipped and trained to handle even the largest water damage and flood related issues. The question is which professional do you call?
Okay, so a pipe bursts in your upstairs bathroom and before you know it, you’re standing hip deep in raw sewage water damage. What do you do? What is the proper course of action? Remember that when water damage strikes you only have a limited amount of time before serious damage is done, so whatever decision you make at this juncture had better be the right one.
Well, the good news is that there are numerous water damage company listings in every community. The bad news is that there are numerous water damage company listings in every community. Just because there are a lot to choose from doesn’t mean that the one you pick will be the right one.
The problem is that there are no government regulations to govern who can and cannot perform this sort of work. The end result is that any redneck can throw a mop and a shop vac in the back of his Camaro and say he’s in the business. Letting a fly by night outfit like this work on your home will not only fail to solve the problem, but it may actually make an already bad situation even worse. You could see your sewage water damage repair bills double or even triple before the job is finally done right.
Fortunately there is an alternative. The water damage industry has done an admirable job of policing itself through the formation of two organizations, the Institute for Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and the Restoration Industry Association (RIA). The IICRC was established in 1972 to coordinate accepted procedures and ethics, as well as providing certification in all areas of water damage restoration for the water damage company that wants to have some measure of credibility with its customers. Companies with the IICRC seal typically are available 24/7, with a full staff of trained professionals, the latest in equipment and procedures, and offer a full range of services from water extraction and drying, to carpet cleaning and mold remediation, as well as structural repair and restoration.
Of course no certification or industry seal is a guarantee against incompetence, but it does tell homeowners a few things, namely that the company they are considering has invested considerable time, effort, and expense in becoming certified, providing a measure of accountability and security to folks who in many cases already have a lot on their hands to deal with.
The benefits are obvious. Certification means that you can have a technician out to your home any time, even if “any time” is2AMon a Sunday. This is far better than a recorded message and a promise to “get back to you the next business day”. All work is guaranteed and you have a contact person, not a generic business card with a number that just rings and rings eternally.
Yes, water damage means you need to act quickly. But you also have to act intelligently. Take the time you need to find the ideal company to work on your home, one that is professional, as well as certified and accountable. Your home deserves it.