303.731.1200    ♦ Emergency Response ♦ help@waterdamageinc.com

Understanding the Water Category

Learn more about the different water damage categories.

Understanding the Water Damage Category

When dealing with a flood or water loss in your home, one of the things you’ll hear your water damage contractors and insurance claims adjuster refer to is the category of the loss. This is an important piece of information as it essentially guides all parties involved regarding job details like what type of equipment is needed, can the carpet, drywall, hardwoods etc.… be saved or do they need to be removed, what level of cleaning is needed after the water is removed and more. Below we’ll discuss some basics of water category.

Water Category for Cleanup Purposes

Simply put, water category refers to the cleanliness of the water that has affected your property. There are many factors that can contribute to the water category and even change it n some instances. Things like the source of the water, the length of time materials have been wet and the pre-existing conditions of the affected area all are major contributors to the water category determination.

Category One Water Damage


The Category I water category represents the cleanest of all possible water damages.

Typical sources of category one flooding include supply lines to household items like refrigerators, dishwashers, sinks, toilets and washing machines.

Category I Water Damage includes losses where all materials may be able to be dried in place if certain conditions like wet insulation behind the drywall or wood floors that are warped beyond saving don’t exist. A clean water source however does not always equal a category one loss.

Factors such as conditions in the environment that the water has passed through and length of time different materials have been wet can quickly change the category from a one to a two or even a three.

Category One Water Source Damage

Category Two Water Damage


Category II water, often called gray water, can come from a variety of household sources.

This water contains a significant level of contamination and could cause harm to occupants of the property. Typical sources for gray water losses include toilet overflows (not drain backups), washing machine overflows and dishwasher overflows. As mentioned above, certain factors can also turn category one source into category two losses.

Certain steps should be taken in a category two loss that do not need to be done in a category one loss that are important for protecting the health of the property occupants and visitors.

One example of these steps includes removal of carpet pad if the carpet is affected. Usually the carpet can be cleaned and saved but the pad should always be removed in a category two water damage.

Another example of a needed step would be the cleaning and sanitizing of the materials that are not removed and that air movement will be placed on. Sometimes it is appropriate use an air scrubber as well to clean the indoor air in and around the affected area of your home.

Category Two Water Source Damage

Category Three Water Damage


Category III Water is considered grossly contaminated.

This water may contain toxigenic, pathogenic and other harmful bacteria and can pose as serious risk to the health of the occupants including serious illness and death. In a category three loss all affected porous and semi porous materials should be removed with the remaining structural materials thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Some example of these porous and semi porous materials that must be removed to properly mitigate the damage and protect your health include the carpet, pad and tack strip, affected drywall, wood flooring and rugs.

The appropriate use of air scrubbers and negative air should be used along with containing off the affected area from the unaffected areas of the home. Additional services like the cleaning of the air ducts may also be needed.

If you have flood or water loss in your home and would like help identifying the category give us a call. We can not only identify the category of the damage for you we also are happy to provide a free inspection and estimate to properly mitigate it so that your loved ones and property are well protected.

Category Three Source Damage
error: Content is protected !!