Ask the Restoration Services Expert – Jay Won
Water…. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
H2O – two hydrogen atoms combined with one oxygen atom becomes the element better known as water. It’s amazing how this tiny little element is pretty much the life blood of this planet and without it; life on earth wouldn’t be able to exist. Water covers approximately 2/3 of the earth’s surface and out of that, only 3% is fresh water. As important as water is to the existence of life on Earth, ironically, it’s also the leading carrier of pathogens in the world. Not to mention the destructive force it has when combined with storms such as hurricanes and subsequent overland flooding.
When a structure suffers a water loss, one of the first things that need to be determined is the category of water. When a qualified restorative drying technician, such as those at Action Restoration, enters a structure that has suffered a water loss, one of the first questions they should ask themselves is – “Is the water contaminated”? A few parameters can influence this and they are as follows:
- Water source.
- The length of time the water has been allowed to dwell in the structure.
- Pre-existing conditions.
- Contact with pre-existing contaminants.
Once the degree of contamination has been determined, then the restorative drying technician can then categorize the water. This categorization of water in a structure is important to the restoration company as it will dictate the procedure of work and techniques to ensure a successful remediation. The industry standards for categories of water are as follows:
The easiest way to remember this category is to think of it as clean or potable water. This category is defined as water that poses no substantial risk from dermal, ingestion or inhalation exposure. The source of this category is usually from a ruptured water line from within the structure. Typically, in a residential structure, these are the water lines that carry treated water to our kitchens and bathrooms. It should be noted that this category can just as quickly change to a Category 2 and then to a Category 3 taken into consideration some of the parameters that I mentioned in the above paragraph, with the passing of time being one of the more influential factors.
This category is defined as water that contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans. Sources of this category can include, but not limited to, some of the following examples:
- Overflow of a dishwasher or wash machine.
- Overflow of a toilet bowl on the room side of the trap with some urine but no feces.
- Water intrusion due to hydrostatic pressure from below ground level – better known as seepage.
- Broken aquariums.
This category is probably the worst of the worse and is defined as water that is so heavily contaminated and unsanitary that there is a high probability it will put the health of humans at risk. Sources of this category can include, but not limited to, some of the following examples:
- Sewage. Sewer backups commonly occur in the basement and if the basement is developed, it can come up through the toilet, shower drain, floor drain or all three.
- Toilet backflows that originate from beyond the toilet trap.
- Flooding from rivers and streams.
Determining the category of water at the very beginning of a water loss helps define the following – drying vs. tear out, restore vs. replacement. It will pretty much dictate the type of emergency work that is needed, what equipment can and cannot be used and what steps will need to be taken to restore the structure to a pre-loss condition. With over 22 years’ experience in the restoration industry, Action Restoration strives to offer our clients the best possible service by making available to our technicians continuing education, training that is current with the industry and to tap into that resource that always proves to be invaluable – experience!