Water Damage Classifications
The Four Classes of Water Damage and how they Relate to Loss
Each water damage project is different, with a unique situation that must be dealt with in a specific manner. The greatest water restoration companies are well aware of this, and perform an expert analysis at the start of every project to ensure the program is tailor-made to fit the occasion. There are no cookie cutter templates for water cleanup projects, only a set of guidelines that are followed in each unique case.
One of the most critical aspects of a water cleanup project is the classification of the damage. There are four different water damage classifications, and each one requires a different approach to the recovery process. Your water restoration company should diagnose the type of water damage first, in order to develop the most effective strategy for the project moving forward.
Class 1 Water Damage
Class 1 water damage generally has a slow evaporation rate and tends to result in the least amount of loss. There is little water intrusion, only part of a room is effected, and the surface of the material is less porous, which results in the minimized damage. Little carpet damage or padding wetness is present. The materials do not absorb as much of the water, which leads to a slower evaporation rate.
Examples of affected materials: Plywood, particle board, structural wood, VCT, concrete.
Class 2 Water Damage
Class 2 water damage tends to have a faster evaporation rate than class 1, but the affected materials remain the same. This class of water damage also has affected the entire room with carpet or cushion damage, water wicking up walls 12” to 24”, and absorbed water remains in the affected areas such as the sub-floor and framing members.
Examples of affected materials: Plywood, particle board, structural wood, concrete.
Class 3 Water Damage
Class 3 water damage comes with the fastest evaporation rate, but walls, ceiling, floor coverings, sub-floor, and framing members have experienced severe contamination and are saturated with water. The water damage most likely came from an overhead source, from a compromised cooler line, an upstairs plumbing burst in the walls or ceiling, or a ruptured fire sprinkler line. This type of water damage often requires specialized equipment and expertise, and should be completed only by the most reputable water restoration companies with excellent customer satisfaction.
Examples of affected materials: Ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, cushion, sub-floor.
Class 4 Water Damage
Class 4 water damage consists of unique, specialized situations in which only the most prepared water restoration company with the proper equipment should be hired. In these cases, the affected materials are saturated with water, but the porosity of the materials are extremely low or the area is relatively inaccessible. Class 4 water damage requires advanced remediation techniques and takes longer to complete than typical water restoration projects.
There are generally very deep pockets of water in class 4 water damage, requiring a very specific humidity level for proper restoration. Inaccessible areas that define class 4 water damage are include space behind cabinets, within walls or crawlspaces, and underneath flooring.
Examples of affected materials: Hardwood, plaster, brick, concrete, stone.
The difficulty of the water restoration process increases with each class level, and it is very important to diagnose correctly because this affects the way the cleanup project is conducted. Fortunately, the delineation between each class of water damage is pretty clear. Any water damage expert worth their salt will be able to identify the water damage class with relative ease, creating their strategy for restoration afterwards. Every water restoration company has their own area of expertise, so do your research when selecting the right company for your cleanup project.