What are the categories of water damage?

Categories of Water Damage: the categories of water, as defined by the, IICRC S500 document , refer to the range of contamination in water, considering both its originating source and quality after it contacts materials present on the job site.


Category 1 Water Damage:

Category 1 water originates from a sanitary water source and does not pose substantial risk from dermal, ingestion, or inhalation exposure. Examples of Category 1 water sources can include, but are not limited to: broken water supply lines; tub or sink overflows with no contaminants; appliance malfunctions involving water-supply lines; melting ice or snow; falling rain water; broken toilet tanks; and toilet bowls that do not contain contaminants or additives.


category 1 water damage


Category 2 Water Damage:

Water that is consider category 2 contains contaminants and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans. This water can contain potentially unsafe levels of microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms, as well as other organic or inorganic matter (chemical or biological).

Examples of category 2 water can include, but are not limited to: discharge from dishwashers or washing machines; overflows from washing machines; overflows from toilet bowls on the room side of the trap with some urine but not feces; seepage due to hydro static pressure; broken aquariums and punctured water beds.


category 2 water damage


Note: Seepage due to hydrostatic pressure is most often pertaining to sump pump backups.


Category 3 Water Damage:

Category 3 water is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents and can cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed.

Examples of Category 3 water can include, but are not limited to: sewage; wasteline backflows that originate from beyond any trap regardless of visible content or color; all forms of flooding from seawater; rising water from rivers or streams; and other contaminated water entering or affecting the indoor environment, such as wind-driven rain from hurricanes, tropical storms, or other weather-related events.

Category 3 water can carry trace levels of regulated or hazardous materials (e.g. pesticides, or toxic organic substances).



The category of water damage determines how a water damage contractor will complete the mitigation process.  Each category of water requires a different procedure for cleaning-up and drying the home or business.  If you are experiencing water damage and need immediate assistance give us a call.






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