What are the categories of water?
The IICRC classifies water into three separate categories, aptly named Category 1, Category 2, and Category 3. Water categories were created to identify the level of water contamination and the procedures required to mitigate the different types. Water categories are often confused with water classes, which relate to how far the water has spread.
What is category 1 water?
Category 1 water originates from a sanitary source and does not cause a great deal of harm to humans if contacted, ingested, or inhaled.
Category 1 water could come from:
- Broken water supply lines
- Ice or snow that has melted
- Sink or tub overflows containing no contaminants
- Appliance malfunctions involving the water line
- Broken toilet tanks or bowls containing no contaminants
Category 1 water is the easiest to mitigate as little to no personal protective equipment (PPE) is usually required. Category 1 water that sits longer than 72 hours is sometimes classified as category 2 water.
What is category 2 water?
Category 2 water contains bacteria but no sewage or solid waste. It can carry microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms. Category 2 water does have the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted, ingested, or inhaled, as it contains a significant level of contamination.
Category 2 water could come from:
- Discharge or overflow from appliances
- Toilet bowl overflows containing urine but no feces
- Hydrostatic pressure causing seepage
- Sump pump failures
- Broken aquariums
- Punctured water beds
- Broken fire suppression systems
- Category 1 water left unmitigated for 72 hours
Category 2 is somewhat harder to mitigate than Category 1 water. It requires PPE to prevent potential health hazards. In Xactimate, there is an upcharge for extracting category 2 water. Category 2 water does have the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted, ingested, or inhaled, as it contains a significant level of contamination. Category 2 water that sits for longer than 72 hours is sometimes classified as category 3 water.
What is category 3 water?
Category 3 water is ‘black’ water that contains raw sewage, solid waste, and/or pathogenic agents, and is extremely unsanitary. Category 3 water can be extremely dangerous and it is highly recommended that proper PPE is used when mitigating. Category 3 water can cause infections, disease, and even death.
Category 3 water could come from:
- Sewage backup
- Toilet backup
- Seawater flooding
- Ground water flooding
- Rising water from rivers and streams
- Water contaminated by pet feces
- Water contaminated by hazardous material
- Category 2 water left unmitigated for 72 hours
Category 3 water can be very hard to mitigate, will require full PPE, and can require dumping in a specialized manner. Thankfully, Xactimate includes plenty of upcharges for dealing with Category 3 water. These include higher pricing for extracting category 3 water, higher pricing for removal of category 3 contaminated materials, and other charges. Once again, it is highly recommended that proper PPE is used when mitigating category 3 water.
Water mitigation tips
- Be sure to properly classify the water you’re dealing with. Higher category water may entail additional PPE, documentation, and Xactimate charges.
- Always wear proper PPE when necessary.
- Carpet and pad may be salvaged in category 1 losses. Carpet may be salvaged in category 2 losses. Both carpet and pad should be torn out in category 3 losses.
- Don’t forget, there is an Xactimate line item for plant-based anti-microbial as well just anti-microbial.
- Did you know that when you don’t remove water-affected carpet, it should be sprayed 3 times with anti-microbial? Once on top, once on the bottom, and once more on the flooring underneath.
- Was this an emergency job that occurred after hours? Don’t forget to charge for an “Emergency Service Call – After Hours”.
- Was your crew on-site after hours? Don’t forget – there are “afterhours” upcharges in Xactimate not only for labor hours, but for the removal of many wet material tear-out items as well.