Water Damage Risks – All You Need to Know

What can water damage do to my property?

water damage risks

Water damage ranges from a simple small appliance overflow to the more far reaching and damaging. Left unchecked, water damage can spread and quickly ruin your home and possessions. Depending on the severity, water damage can cause catastrophic damage to your home and possessions, destroying priceless items, documents and even cause major structural damage to your home. Damage can be costly and disruptive, sometimes even requiring the homeowner to vacate. Quick action and professional help can limit the damage.

What are the categories and classification of water damage?

The Institute of International Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRS) is an accreditation given by the American International Standards Institute (ANSI). This is a government body that sets standards for water damage restoration best practices, remediation and safety. They have established 3 main categories of water damage from a range of causes such as a broken potable water line, rupture in a drain pipe, sewage backup or natural disaster such as floor. The classifications are based on the level of the contamination in the water.

  • Category 1 Water Damage: Water originates from a potable or sanitary source and is fit for human consumption. An example would be clean water from a toilet tank or broken pipe.
  • Category 3 Water Damage: Water is “grossly contaminated” and contains harmful pathogenic and toxigenic agents. This typically comes from sewage, river flooding or standing water that has begun to develop bacteria and other microbes.
  • Category 2 Water Damage: Water contains significant contamination and potentially can cause sickness or discomfort if humans consume or come in contact with it. This is “grey water” from a washing machine or dishwasher with detergent or a toilet containing waste.

There are also four water damage classes that consider the amount and type of water intrusion.

They range from Class 1 where minimal water has flowed onto materials that are low porosity. (Example: Overflowed toilet on a tile floor) to Class 4 where the water is trapped by building materials and it requires expensive restoration. Example: Flooding of plaster, floor or wall systems. See below for more details.

What are the health risks from water damage?

If not dealt with immediately even seemingly small leaks can threaten your health. Long term water damage can lead to musty odors, toxic air quality, mold and other unsanitary conditions.

Unmitigated water damage can lead to mold growth that can cause allergies, asthma, and respiratory problems. 

Short term, exposure to standing water, flooding and black water can be very dangerous, potentially containing sewage, chemical waste and other infectious microbes. 

In addition there is always the danger of slipping or falling while the water is still present.

Safety must always come first. NEVER enter a wet area if there is possibility that the electrical system has encountered water. Shut the power off IF the electrical box is dry. Call an electrician.