Just as there are varying types of sports injuries to the body there can be several types of water damage in the home. For instance when a water heater burst or a pipe breaks it can allows unrelenting water to flow for hours before it is discovered. In that amount of time several thousand gallons of water can travel throughout a property producing unimaginable damage. These types of water damage are on the grand scale, unleashing water’s fury that can cost thousands in repairs.

Some types of water damage are much less destructive to property and often can be managed with little effort. A toilet overflow that is caught immediately, a washing machine that has a discharge pipe detach to empty a load of wash water and a supply line to a sink that is discovered in minutes of the break.

These types of water damage are limited in their destructive ferocity because the amount of measurable water is minimal. Typically water damage that is less than 25 gallons can be confidently confronted by a do-it-yourself-er. Such wet environments can be easily transformed from wet to safely dry by following the following steps. These steps are in harmony with the IICRC S-500 publication for flood restoration.


Remove all standing water using a shop vac, absorbent towels, squeegee or wet mop. This will be particularly successful for hard surface flooring like oak wood floors, tile and laminate. Because the porosity of these materials is limited, the surface water will pool rather than absorb, making removal easier. Shop vacs can simply extract the water, squeegees can divert water towards a drain or low spot to be extracted or absorbed with a wet mop or towels. If carpet becomes wet a shop vac will remove only a portion of the water leaving the pad still quite wet.


Once all standing water is removed an application of a germ killing agent should be applied to all surfaces that came into direct contact with the water. This step will assure there are no living organisms that are capable of amplifying during the drying process, which is our final step. When considering the need for germ killing agents, they should be applied for all the types of water damage that exist.


Now that your efforts have established what appears to be a moisture free environment it is important to completely dry all materials that may be lingering with water. This can only be done with air movement which has been a proven method to force water to become a vapor. For areas where a small degree of water has been, a fan directed over the environment will do wonders. For environments where larger amounts of water may have been present it may require several rented air movers from a local hardware store.

When Water Damage is Bad

There are times when the amount of water that inundates property is great and measurable. Examples of these types of water damage would be a frozen pipe that breaks and runs unabated for hours, a basement that has a drain backup or ground water that makes its way in a home because a sump pump fails. These are commonly the most damaging types of water damage in Southeast Michigan and insurance companies spend millions on these types of claims each year.

There are many ways a home or business can experience water damage as it comes in all shapes and sizes. From water dripping through a ceiling due to some faulty shingles or a voluminous amount of sewer water coming up from a clogged drain. Although the many ways property may experience flooding may vary, the categories of water classifications are limited to 3. Each category will be explained in depth, but for the sake of simplicity they can be remembered easily as clean, dingy and grossly contaminated.

The 3 Categories of Water Damage

Category 1 – This category of water damage is water that is from a sanitary source. Examples of this type of water damage would be a leaky or broken pipe, a sink or tub that over flows, a supply line that breaks and a hot water heater that ruptures.  Because this water is from a fresh water source it is not immediately dirty with debris and particulates. Additionally this water is not as damaging to building materials that absorb it when direct contact is made.

However, as this type of water damage is not immediately as dangerous as the next type known as category 2, as category 1 water migrates over dirty flooring, through walls and down to lower levels it can become category 2.

It is easier to repair as it does not pose any health risks though it can cause formation of mold in the bathroom or kitchen. The best tools for repairing this water damage are a wrench to turn off water and a mop to clear excess water.

Category Two – This category of water damage is more severe than that of water from a fresh water source. This water is dirty, dingy and abounds with living microorganisms. This water is considered living because under a microscope one would see a world of activity as living organisms are moving with life. This type of water damage can pose a health threat to occupants that are in the nearby vicinity, especially the very young and elderly.

Sources of such flood damage would be ground water, sump pump water, water that comes through cracks in a foundation, water from a roof, water from a bathtub after someone had taken a bath. The most common type of category 2 water damage are when sump pumps fail and when ground water comes up from a drain.

Category Three – These types of water damage are the worst and teaming with unimaginable germs that can affect human health in a very detrimental way. Examples of this type of water damage is sewer water that backs up through a drain, a toilet that overflows with feces and water from rivers and streams. The cleanup necessary to make the environment once again sanitary should be professional as they are trained to manage high risk water damage cleanup. When sewers backup and property becomes grossly contaminated with a cat-3 water time is not on your side. Once this abundantly contaminated water infiltrates, migrates and comes into direct contact with furniture, dry wall, flooring and cabinetry, strict guidelines for safety and cleanup must be adhered to if a safe sanitary environment is to be achieved.

Water classified as Category 2 or grey water if left to itself without being quickly mitigated will become through stagnation even more contaminated in a short time. Water that starts out as category 2 or grey water must be re-classified as Category 3 Water in 72 hours. Water that languishes for weeks will create a hostile milieu where mold mitigation and removal are reuired.

Restoration after water damage must be introduced regardless of the water damage category; however the cleanup process will differ based upon the contamination level of the property. Many flood restoration companies in Southeast Michigan such as Action Extraction of Macomb offer free evaluations of water damage. This is always recommended as trained professionals can let you know the extent and scope of damage as well as the protocol for restoration. They utilize sensitive moisture detection equipment that will identify all hidden moisture.

After wet property is evaluated a written loss assessment can be made that will outline what materials are wet and what the appropriated solution is for restoration. Sometimes materials can be restored and in other times materials are beyond the scope of restoration and must be discarded and replaced.