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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Category and Classification of a Water Damage

12/29/2017 (Permalink)

Category and Classification of a Water Damage

When we arrive at a property to begin emergency water damage services, one of the first things our technicians note is the category and classification of the water.  Identifying the water this way serves an important purpose.


The category of water tells us how dirty it is.  Water can be categorized in three different ways:

Cat 1.  The source of the water is sanitary and the water does not pose substantial risk from dermal, ingestion, or inhalation exposure.  An important note about Cat 1 water is that it will eventually change category if it is not cleaned or if it comes into contact with other unsanitary surfaces or materials.

Cat 2.  This water contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if a human consumes or contacts it.  Cat 2 water potentially has unsafe levels of microorganisms, or nutrients for microorganisms, as well as other organic or inorganic matter which may be chemical or biological.

Cat 3.  This water is grossly contaminated and may contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents.  This is the dirtiest classification of water.

We categorize water for various reasons.  One is to know the level of care our technicians must take to safely work to clean the environment it’s in.  If the water is dirty, we will a spray antimicrobial and antifungal chemical to kill bacteria and help prevent further microbial growth.

Another reason to categorize water is to understand what materials that the water has come into contact with can be salvaged or not.  Materials in Cat 1 water have a high chance of being salvaged, while materials in Cat 3 water have little to no chance (unless items can be sanitized in the Esporta Wash System, which we can do).


Class 1.  This is the least amount of water, absorption, and evaporation.  Only a portion of a room or area is affected, or a larger area with the water contains materials that have minimal absorbed moisture.  Little or no wet carpet or cushion is present.

Class 2.  This class involves a large amount of water, absorption, and evaporation.  At least an entire room with carpet and pad is affected.  The water has wicked up the walls less than 24-inches.  There is moisture in structural materials and substructure soil.

Class 3.  This involves the greatest amount of water, absorption, and evaporation.  Water in this class may have come from overhead.  Ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, cushion, and subfloor in virtually the entire area are saturated.

Class 4.  This class relates to specialty drying situations, such as wet materials with low permeance or porosity.  These types of losses may require longer drying times and specialty drying methods.

Classifying water helps us know what drying techniques to use, the amount of equipment to set, and, potentially, how long the drying process may take.

Rest assured that no matter the category or class or water involved in a water damage, we will be prepared to stabilize the situation and help prevent secondary water damage.  We have over 30-years of experience and have mitigated all categories and classes of water damages.  We are always ready to help.

SERVPRO of Ellis County services Ellis County and all surrounding Dallas and Ft. Worth communities.  We can be reached 24/7 at (972) 935-0827.  

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