Water is classified under three categories by the IICRC’s S-500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration. These classifications, important for water damage cleaning, are discussed below.
Water Category 1 – This water comes from a clean, sanitary source. This category was previously known as ‘clear water’ but has since been renamed to avoid any confusion. Category 1 water sources include clean water from toilet bowl tanks, water bottles, culinary water from household or commercial building pipes, faucets, etc. Although these water sources may initially be clean, it is important to note that they may quickly degrade into category 2 and 3 water types under the right circumstances, including time and exposure to contaminants.
Water Category 2 – This water comes from sources that contain some level of contamination and may cause discomfort or illness if ingested. This category was previously known as ‘grey water’ but that classification has also been changed to avoid confusion. Category 2 water may come from places such as dishwasher overflow, washing machine overflow and toilet overflow (some urine but no feces).
Water Category 3 – This water is grossly unsanitary and may cause severe illness or death if ingested. This category was previously known as black water but that designation has been removed. Category 3 water includes raw sewage, flooding from streams and rivers, toilet water containing feces, and any standing water where time and contact with contaminants has started the bacterial growth process, including mold growth.
These classifications are essential for water damage cleaning professionals, who will need to treat each type differently depending on the specific situation involved in the water damage restoration process. Flood water damage will often include several types of water categories. For instance, a broken pipe may initially leak category 1 water but in certain areas of the home or office, the standing water the results can degrade into category 2 water and when mixed with black mold or sewage becomes category 3 water.