Water Damage Explained (Part 1)

June 30, 2014

Water Losses Increased in 2013


According to a State Farm release from April 2014, the insurance company states an increase of water losses. California runs second in the country with the most water loss claims in 2013, right after Texas in first place.


Almost everyone has, at some point, experienced some kind of water damage. Most times we are aware of such events, but oftentimes we stay in the unknown until odors or visible signs appear.  How is that possible? we might think. Water damage can’t be missed, right?


Well, there are different kinds of water damage. You can experience a severe flood, like when one of your washing machine’s supply line pipes bursts and suddenly, your home is literally under water. Yes, you cant’ miss that one!  But there is also the subtle water damage that sometimes goes undetected until health problems or other symptoms appear.


In our next few Blog entries you can learn about the three different water categories your insurance uses to differentiate the type of loss you have suffered.  You will also learn about the evaluation process as well as about the actual mitigation process.  Finally you will find out what kind of health and other hazards water damage might cause.


Obvious and Concealed Water Damage


Obvious causes of water damages are the ones you often encounter during the rainy season, when a roof, a window, or a skylight leaks and your home experiences a minor or a severe flood. Common water losses include pin-hole leaks in pressurized water lines, leaking air-conditioning systems, and toilet back-ups, as well as the washing machine scenario we described earlier.  


But water damage losses may also happen/occur slowly over time caused by “not-so-obvious culprits”.  A slightly misdirected sprinkler head that over-sprays external walls can slowly affect framing wood members and the materials in the inner part of the wall.  Oftentimes, potentially affected walls are covered by a couch or another piece furniture piece and damage is not detected until the residents detect the smell of moisture.


A slow leak in a pipe located inside the walls, the foundation, the attic, or elsewhere, is also a frequent cause of water damage. In any of these scenarios the homeowner may often be unaware of the problem until some visible signs appear, like darkening of hardwood floors caused by water saturation, wet carpets or signs of mildew marks on a wall, ceiling, etc.


Whatever the reason for your water damage, professional help is highly advisable to prevent further harm to your home and your health.


Contamination in Water - The 3 Categories of Water Damage Losses


The range of contamination caused by a water damage is determined by three different categories of water, Category 1- Clean. Category 2- Grey. Category 3- Grossly unsanitary. To evaluate the water contamination is a very important step before the clean-up and restoration process begins. It determines which specific procedure needs to be followed in order to bring your home back to order and to protect your health.


Category 1 – This is clean water that comes from a sanitary source like faucets, toilet tanks, a bursting pressurized water supply line and such. But this category of loss can quickly change into becoming Category 2 or grey water!


Category 2 – This is referred as grey water and refers to water that contains a significant level of contamination. Grey water can potentially carry microorganisms, as well as other organic and inorganic matter that can cause discomfort or illness if contacted or ingested. (IICRC link) Examples of grey water are overflows from washing machines, dishwashers, toilet bowls( with some urine but no feces), and also broken aquariums and punctured water beds.


Category 3 – This is the worst classification of water loss. It is highly contaminated and unsanitary with the possibility of causing severe illness and even death if ingested. Sources for this category of water includes toilet overflows with feces, sewer back-ups, flooding from seawater and water from rivers or streams.


ATTENTION: An untreated “clean” water loss can become a “gray” or even a Category 3 water problem and therefore a health hazard if not handled properly by an experienced remediation company within 72 hours.


If you need immediate assistance please call 




Coming UP Next:

Water Damage Explained ( Part 2) -The Water Damage Restoration Process Explained



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