Water Restoration

Water Damage: Categories and Classes

By May 17, 2017 No Comments

Types of Water Damage




Categories and Classes



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The type of water damage that has affected your home will affect the dry out and water restoration process. It is important to move quickly in order to keep water damage and water damage costs down, while preventing the growth of mold and spreading of any potential harmful bacteria. According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, the IICRC, “it is totally inappropriate to put off mitigation [water damage cleanup or water damage dry out] while waiting for an insurance claims representative to arrive on the scene to evaluate the loss. By that time, in all probability sufficient time will have passed to grown and amplify microorganisms, which may not be covered by insurance.” The IICRC is an international organization that oversees the certification and standards for the industry for inspection, cleaning, restoration and remediation. The IICRC has come up with categories that categorize the range of contamination of the water loss and classes that designate the degree of saturation, which affects the dry out process and time.


There are 3 categories that a water loss will fall in to. It is important to be aware of these categories because it could affect the type of coverage you receive on your water loss from your insurance company. Even more important is your health, as the categories are distinguished by the level of contaminants.

Dry out from Water Pipe

Category 1:

Category 1 water consists of clean, clear, potable water. The water comes from a clean source such as broken water supply lines, melting snow or ice, falling rainwater, or a slab leak (a slab leak COULD potentially be categorized as a category 2 or 3 if mud or other contaminants come up with the water damage as well). Category 1 water would not pose a substantial risk from ingestion or inhalation, although it is recommended that this water not be inhaled or ingested.

Even though the water may initially be categorized as a category 1, it can possibly change to a category 2 or 3. For example, you might have a leak in an upstairs bathroom, or leak from a pipe above. The water may come in to contact with certain materials which may have now contaminated the water to a category 2 or category 3 depending on what the water came in to contact with.


Category 2:

Category 2 consists of water that has a certain degree of contamination that is considered unsafe. This type of water is NOT a drinkable source and drinking or coming in to contact with this type of water could make you sick. The water could come from overflows or discharge from washing machines or dishwashers, overflows from toilet bowls that contain some contaminants but not feces, broken aquariums, punctured water beds, overflow from a bathtub.


Similar to a category 1 water loss, a category 2 water loss can also change due to the water coming in to contact with other pathogens or contaminants. The amount of time the water sits also can change the category. For example, after 48 hours the water becomes stagnant, which gives off an odor. Stagnant water can be an incubator for different kinds of bacteria and parasites, increasing the degree of contamination and converting the water loss in a category 3 water loss.

Category 3:

A category 3 water loss is grossly contaminated water. This type of water should not be ingested, nor there be direct contact with this type of water. This type of water most likely contains pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents. The water could come from the sewer, toilet back or overflows that come from beyond the toilet trap (or an overflow of a toilet that contains feces), ground surface water (storm water coming from the exterior grounds, fire hydrant water running in from outside)


There are situations where water may damage areas contain hazardous materials such as lead or asbestos. These circumstances might require contractors with a specialized license to complete certain portions of the water damage, such as removing wet drywall that contains asbestos.


Classes help designate the amount of water involved in the loss. The lower the class the less amount of water typically involved. The volume of the affected area, along with the type of material affected, also helps determine the class. The type of class determines the length of dry out and amount of dry out equipment necessary for the proper water damage cleanup. A proper water damage cleanup and dry out is important for preventing further damage, such as the growth of mold. The IICRC has 4 classes, ranging from least amount of water, absorption and evaporation to specialty drying situations.

Class 1:

Least amount of water, absorption and evaporation. A class 1 water loss does not involve a significant amount of water, thus resulting in a lot less water damage. It does not affect the entire home, only a small portion. The drywall would have absorbed little to no water, along with the carpet or hardwood floors. This type of loss might require some suction of water and minimal equipment. Equipment that is left to complete the dry out would not have to be left as long as a class 2, 3 or 4 water loss.


Class 2:

Large amount of water, absorption and evaporation. A class 2 type of water loss involves a larger amount of water, absorption and evaporation. These types of water losses will typically affect an entire room. In these cases, if affected, wet drywall is most likely not likely to be sufficiently dried out with equipment alone. To be safe, drywall is usually cut above the wet area in order to prevent the growth of mold. Wet carpet would need to be sufficiently dried out for days or completely torn out depending on the category loss. Wet hardwood floors would generally start to buckle with this type of water loss and most likely will need to be removed.


Class 3:

Greatest amount of water, absorption and evaporation. A class 3 type of water damage is typically ground floor that is heavily flooded or an upstairs loss that has saturated a significant amount of drywall and other materials. A lot more demolition may be involved. Wet floors and cutting a larger surface of wet walls are involved with this type of loss. Ceilings may be wet and damaged, along with other materials such as wet insulation, water damaged cabinets, water damaged wood, water behind shower tiles and tubs,


Class 4:

Specialty drying situation. A specialty drying situation usually involves wet materials that are harder to dry. These types of materials are usually porous. Examples of material that may be involved in specialty drying situations are stone, concrete, brick and plaster. These materials usually have deep pockets which make the dry out process slightly more complex. Special drying methods and longer dry out times are usually involved in these types of situations.


If you have flooding or water damage in your home and live in San Diego County (We cover as far South as San Ysidro, Otay Ranch, and Coronado and as far North as San Clemente, Temecula, Carlsbad, Vista, Poway, Valley Center and Fallbrook. We also cover the coastal communities, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Solana Beach, Mission Beach, Del Mar, and Coronado to El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside and Alpine.) call Flood Busters  (619)562-3800 today. Think you are outside of the zone or just looking for information, do not hesitate to give us a call! We are a 24/7 emergency service and are waiting for your call. Lastly, if you are looking for water damage restoration or repair companies, make sure they are registered with the California State License Board and have a valid license.

Should you have a flood or water damage in your San Diego home remember, Flood Busters® knows what to do- We Ain’t Afraid of No Flood®!

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