Category 3 Water Intrusion: What Kind of Water Damage You Have?

Category 3 Water IntrusionWhen you have a water intrusion in your home or business there are many factors to describe in details what needs to be done to make everything like it never happened. One of the first determinations that are usually met on the websites of a residential or commercial water damage companies is the waters level of contamination. The level of contamination usually dictates what actions need to be taken during the remediation process. Of course, they are different for different water damages. Essentially, if the water is safe and clean, you have a chance to restore your interior and precious things, which means to get a cheaper, less invasive and shorter job altogether.

Everyone knows that category 3 water intrusion means danger. In the restoration industry the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (or IICRC) is the organization which sets the restoration industries standards and practices. It is the IICRC’s standards that all restoration services follow to control water mitigation and remediation jobs they have. Thus, there are three levels of water sanitary.

Determining the Category of Water

The Categories of water, as defined in this document refer to the range of contamination in water, considering its originating source and its quality after it contacts materials present on the job site. Time and temperature can also affect the quality of water thereby changing its Category.

Category 1 water intrusion

Originates from a sanitary source and does not pose a risk from dermal, ingestion or inhalation exposure. It is so-called clean water that usually comes from pipes or big reservoirs. The cleanliness of Category 1 water can deteriorate to Category 2 or 3 due to contact with building materials, soils.

Category 2 water intrusion

Contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans. It is officially called the grey water that is potentially dangerous for water consumers.

Category 3 water intrusion

Is contains pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents. Examples can include but are not limited to sewage, toilet backflows that originate from beyond the toilet trap regardless of the visible content or color; all forms of flooding from seawater; ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams; and other contaminated water entering or affecting the indoor environment such as wind driven rain from hurricanes, tropical storms or other weather related events. Such water may carry silt, organic matter, pesticides, heavy metals, regulated materials, or toxic organic substances. It is usually called black water.

Contamination from bacteria is one of the key distinguishing factors between Category 2 water and Category 3 water. Category 3 water is classified as Category 3 because of the contamination including bacteria and other microorganisms. Because fungus- and bacteria-related losses are specifically excluded in virtually all insurance contracts today, any loss involving Category 3 water should trigger the fungus/bacteria limitations of coverage.

These categories are also time dependent so a flood caused by a drinking fountain (Category 1 clean water) will become contaminated category 2 water after 48 hours. Another 24 hours after that it becomes a category 3 loss. This change in category means a tremendous difference in the scope of work, cost of remediation, and time of job. That’s why it is widely said to start monitor the process of water damage restoration in the fastest way, until you have enough time to liquidate Category 1 instead of category 3 water intrusion.

Our Category 3 Water IntrusionExample to Define Flood Category

Take John’s situation as an example to help you to understand why you have to act fast in the situation of flood; a clean water pipe broke in his basement while he was at work and now he has wet carpets and wet drywall. At the moment it is a category 1 loss and as long as the carpet pad does not have a vapor barrier he doesn’t even need to pull the carpet back, the carpet, carpet pad and drywall can be easily dried in place with minimal disturbance to his day to day.

If John waits for next 48 hours to give a call to emergency cleaning service, there is a category 2 loss. That means the cleaners have to pull back all the affected carpet, remove and dispose of the affected carpet pad and apply an antimicrobial to the carpet and subfloor. As far as the walls and other materials go they may need to be cut out and removed based on the unique circumstances of the loss or how saturated the materials have become.


If John waits another 24 hours to give a call now we have a category 3 loss now. So, both the affected carpet pad and the carpet must be cut out and removed. The affected walls will most likely be severely saturated and contaminated and will most likely need to be removed. All furniture and items left in that water will need to be cleaned and sanitized with the possibility that many items will not be able to be saved.

Waiting is not a good idea for water liquidation process. It usually costs you money, time and causes a lot of hassle. The restoration services are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week so that as soon as disaster strikes they can be there for you. Give a call!

Most-Excluded “Pollutant”

Water intrusion into buildings is a very common cause of loss in the insurance business. It is probably the second hot problem to solve after the problem of water liquidation. Category 3 water became the most successfully excluded pollutant in the history of insurance. Category 3 water was excluded faster and on a wider scale than even terrorism losses, and none of the stakeholders in insurance coverage did anything to protest. Utilizing “mold exclusions” as a cloaking device to camouflage the exclusion of Category 3 water losses, insurance companies have successfully offloaded at their total discretion roughly the loss content equivalent of half of the losses caused by fires, and they never had to reduce their rates in their regulated lines of coverage.