If you have a fire or water emergency, please call us now at (972) 690-1414

To have the optimal experience while using this site, you will need to update your browser. You may want to try one of the following alternatives:

Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Classification of Water and Water Category

12/29/2017 (Permalink)

One of the first things our technicians note when they arrive is the category and classification of the water.

Classification of Water and Water Category

One of the first things our technicians note when they arrive is the category and classification of the water.  We do this before starting emergency water damage restoration services because identifying the water serves an important purpose.

Water Category

The category of water tells us how dirty it is.  Water can be categorized into three categories::

Category 1 Water or Clean Water

Category 1 Water means that the source of the water is sanitary.  The water does not pose a substantial risk from dermal, ingestion, or inhalation exposure.  Category 1 Water is called Clean Water.

Category 1 Water will eventually change to Category 2 or Category 3 Water if it is not cleaned promptly.  Water changing categories is one of the reasons we respond to water damage restoration emergencies 24 hours a day.  If water extraction isn’t prompt, the wet surfaces will run the risk of being permanently damaged. Add a water category change, and the possibility of remediation is lowered even more.

Category 2 Water or Gray Water

Category 2 Water contains significant contamination.  It has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if a human consumes or contacts it.  Category 2 Water potentially has unsafe levels of microorganisms. It may also have organic or inorganic matter which may be chemical or biological.

When our technicians encounter carpeting wet by Category 2 Water, they will remove the carpet pad and dispose of it.  The carpet itself might be saved depending on the carpet type and how many hours the carpet has been wet. If carpet delamination has occurred, the carpet is not considered salvageable.

If your carpet cannot be saved, we will take a sample of it.  We use the sample to identify it, and then present this information to your insurance company to estimate its replacement cost.  

Category 3 Water or Black Water

Category 3 Water is grossly contaminated.  It may contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents.  This is the dirtiest classification of water. Another name for it is Black Water.

Sewage water and water from storm surges is considered Category 3 Water.  Sewage contains human waste, and rising flood waters are contaminated by everything it has touched outside.  Consider what the water will touch as it makes its way into your home. Examples include oils and trash from the street, lawn fertilizers, and much more.

When carpet is affected by Category 3 Water, both the carpet pad and the carpet itself are not salvageable.  Our technicians will take a sample of it and present its information to your insurance company to estimate its replacement cost.  

Why Categorize Water?

We categorize water for various reasons.  One is to know the level of care our technicians must take to safely work.  If the water is gray or black, we will a spray antimicrobial and antifungal chemicals to kill bacteria.  This helps prevent further microbial growth.

Another reason to categorize water is to understand what wet materials can be salvaged or not.  Materials in Category 1 Water have a high chance of being salvaged while materials in Category 3 Water have little to no chance of being restored.  

One of the few exceptions to saving Category 3 Water materials is if the item can be sanitized in our Esporta Wash System. Our company is one of the few in North Texas that is a Certified Esporta Wash System Operator.  This certification allows us to use the most advanced cleaning techniques and detergents in the clothing and textile industry. Our salvage rate is over 85%.

Classification of Water

Class 1 Water

Class 1 Water is when there is only a bit of water, absorption, and evaporation.  It means that a portion of a room or area is affected. It can also refer to a larger area where the wet materials have absorbed moisture minimally.  Materials that do not absorb moisture readily are those with low permeance. Little or no wet carpet or cushion is present in Class 1 Waters.

Class 2 Water

Class 2 Water involves a large amount of water, absorption, and evaporation.  We use this classification when the entire room with carpet and pad is affected.  However, the water has not wicked up the walls more than 24 inches. There is moisture in structural materials and substructure soil.

Class 3 Water

Class 3 Water involves the greatest amount of water, absorption, and evaporation.  Water in this class may have come from overhead. Ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, cushion, and subfloor in virtually the entire area are saturated.

Class 4 Water

Class 4 Water relates to specialty drying situations, such as wet materials with low permeance or porosity.  These types of losses may require longer drying times and specialty drying methods.


Permeance is basically is a measure of how much water can pass through an item.  An example of a type of paint with high permeance is flat paint. Semi-gloss and glossy paints have more a barrier, so water can’t pass through them as easily.  However, once the water does pass through, it’s a lot harder to get the water extracted.

Why Classify Water?

Classifying water helps us know what drying techniques to use, the amount of equipment to set, and how long the drying process may take.  Our technicians will try to give you an estimate of the drying time, but there are many external factors that affect the timeline.

Rest assured that no matter the category or class or water involved in a water damage, we are prepared to help.  We have seen it all, and we can help you through it all.

Trusted Leader in Water Damage Restoration and Fire Damage Restoration in Collin County, North Texas

SERVPRO of Richardson is a water damage restoration and fire and smoke damage restoration company on the border of Richardson and Plano Texas.  We have performed work in Dallas, Plano, Grapevine, McKinney, Frisco, Allen, and other North Texas communities in Collin County for over 30 years.  We also have a Texas Mold Remediation Contractor License and offer free mold inspections.

Our crews are available dispatch for 24 hour emergencies every day of the year.  We can be reached 24/7 at (972) 690-1414.  Call us any time!

Follow us:

Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Linkedin  YouTube


“Like it never even happened,” only happens here.

Other News

View Recent Posts