There are three different types of categories that classify the type of water involved in all water loss situations.
Knowing and understanding these categories helps you and the restoration professional know what precautions may need to be taken on the job site.
“Not all water is the same, and it is important to know that there is no set way to classify water. It is also important to know that water will not remain in the same category; as time passes it will become more contaminated slowly turning into a “black” water situation.”
Category 1: “Clean” Water – Clean water is just that, water that doesn’t pose any harm when it comes in contact with living elements and doesn’t contain any contaminants.
Clean water comes from a potable supply line. If water has passed through or come in contact with other areas it may mix with soils and other contaminants from walls, decking, sub flooring, floor coverings and other building materials, making it no longer potable.
If “clean” water is left alone over time it will harbor growth of bacteria and will become “gray” or “black” water.
Examples of clean water include:
- Water supply lines (plumbing pipes, fixtures, or washing machine and toilet connections)
- Rainwater or melting ice
Category 2: “Gray” Water – Gray water is unsanitary and contains levels of contamination that would not be safe for consumption.
It contains harmful microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms that will help gray water become black water if not attended to quickly. This type of water is dangerous and clean up should only be done by a trained professional.
Examples of gray water include:
- Water discharge from household appliances (Washing machine, dishwasher)
- Overflow from toilet bowl containing some urine but no feces.
- Broken or punctured aquarium, waterbed or other source of chemically treated water.
Category 3: “Black” Water – Black water is harmful to all living organisms and could cause death or serious illness if consumed.
Unlike its name, it can be clear in appearance and/or odorless, but do not be deceived, it is still very dangerous.
It can contain bacteria, pathogenic waste, urine, feces, pesticides and other harmful chemicals or microorganisms, and should be cleaned up immediately by a professional.
Examples of black water include:
- Toilet water back flow beyond the toilet trap
- Sewer water, or sewage backup
- Ground, surface, or sea water
- Rising water from natural bodies of water
Do not try to remove black water yourself, it is extremely dangerous! Allowing black water to remain in an area will quickly make a bad situation worse.
Stay out of contact with it and call a professional water damage restoration firm immediately!