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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Water Damage Restoration Process Terms

5/8/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Richardson is a water damage restoration company located on the border of Richardson and Plano, TX.

Water Damage Terminology

Discovering water damage to your home or commercial property is understandably shocking and overwhelming. You may find yourself asking:

What do I do?

Who do I call?

What will happen to my property?

What does this restoration process involve?

This article will shed some light on common terminology and processes in the business to help you understand more about water damage and resulting mitigation.

What causes water damage?

There are many potential causes of water damage. Maybe you’ve returned home from vacation and have discovered a leaky roof after days of storms. Or perhaps your plumbing system has malfunctioned, and your bathroom is now full of water.

Other possible culprits are dishwashers overflowing, water heaters cracking, washing machines breaking down, and natural disasters such as floods.

While it doesn't happen often, winter can also lead to water damages as low temperatures cause freezing pipes to burst. 

Water Damage Quick Tips

First and foremost, the source of the damage needs to be addressed. If it is a leak, it needs to be fixed and the water shut should be off. Given the urgency of this, you may need to call your plumber to come out.

Second, call a water damage restoration company. It is imperative to remove the standing water and start the cleanup process to prevent further damage to your property and any belongings in close proximity to the affected area or areas. You will also want to make sure the restoration company you hire follows strict drying protocols to help prevent growth such as black mold.

Finally, you will need to call your insurance company about the situation.

If you choose to partner with us, tell your insurance company that SERVPRO of Richardson will be handling the water damage mitigation for you. 

We are here to help! Our emergency dispatch can be reached 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

After arriving at your property, our team of technicians will explain how we will go about handing your restoration needs. If you want to learn more about the water damage restoration process in advance, see our article.

Common terms used across the industry are covered below. You will probably hear many of them during your conversations with our crew.

Water Damage Cleanup Terms


PPE is the acronym for “Personal Protective Equipment”. Whether PPE is necessary for your situation will depend on the category of water damage that has occurred.

If PPE is deemed appropriate, our technicians will need to wear items such as impermeable gloves, safety glasses or goggles, overalls, Tyvek suits or full-face masks. PPE is essential for human safety in any hazardous work situation (RIA).

Category 1 Water

This category is also known as “Clean Water”. In this case, the water is not contaminated and does not pose a big risk to humans.

However, Category 1 water may turn into Category 2 or 3 as it becomes more contaminated. Typically, this can occur within three days. Most items can be salvaged from clean water so do not delay. Be sure to take the proper steps to begin cleaning up of any clean water damage as soon as possible.

Category 2 Water

Category 2, or “Gray Water” contains significant contaminants, and should not be consumed. The water does not contain human waste but may contain cleaning agents or condensate.

Carpets may be salvaged if soiled with Category 2 water, but some materials may have to be removed and disposed of. There is a risk of Category 2 water turning Category 3 if it is not promptly cleaned.

Category 3 Water

Category 3 water is “Black Water” and is majorly contaminated. This category is unsanitary and poses a significant health risk if consumed. Sewage and contaminated flood water are sources of category 3 water.

Usually, items dirtied and damaged by Black Water are not salvageable, but today’s restoration technology now allows us to salvage over 90% of your belongings (EPA). This is possible with the use of the Esporta Wash System, a wet-wash system that uses a mix of up to seven specialized detergents and hydraulic pressure to sanitize and remove over 99% of contaminants from your clothing’s fibers. Learn more about our process to clean clothing with Black Water damage.


Permeance refers to the rate of water vapor through a material. Different materials have different permeance measurements due to factors such as their moisture barrier, composition, and thickness. Other conditions that affect permeance would be relative humidity and temperature. Some construction materials, for example, are already more water sensitive and have higher permeance. Generally, how much water vapor that can pass through a material will affect the mitigation process because extraction becomes more difficult. (IBEC). Some examples of higher permeance materials include flat paints and mesh. Whereas, lower permeance can be found in semi-glossy paint, glossy paint, and polyethylene. (UAF)

Moisture Barriers

Moisture barriers are used to help with moisture control. These materials reduce the rate that water vapor can move through a structure. Different solids hinder moisture at different degrees and include things like glass, sheet metal, rubber, coatings, and baseboards. (USDE). These barriers prevent moisture from penetrating wall surfaces, floors, and roofs.

Relative Humidity and Dew Point

Relative humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air in relation to the maximum amount that can be present in the current temperature conditions. Factors affecting relative humidity are changes in air temperature and amount of water vapor present or lost. In comparison, the dew point measurement is absolute and not relative. Simply stated, the dew point is the absolute amount of water vapor present in the air and this is useful in situations where predicting the occurrence of condensation is necessary.


This refers to the removal of the water. After assessing the situation during their walkthrough, our technicians will start the process of extracting the water from your home or other property. It is important to begin this process as quickly and completely as possible to prevent any further, secondary damage.

Class 1 Water

While water categories consider the degree of contamination, water classifications pertain to the amount of water intrusion and materials affected. Class 1 water refers to cases where a minimal amount of water has flowed into the home or business and the materials affected have mostly low porosity. In these situations, there is little moisture retained and there is a minor amount of evaporation effort required for drying (IICRC).

Class 2 Water

In situations with class 2 water intrusion, a significant amount of water has flowed into the area and the materials sustaining the water damage are medium to high porosity. These items might be carpet or gypsum walls. Given the greater amount of absorption and retained water, more evaporation efforts are required to complete the drying of the materials.  

Class 3 Water

With this classification, water has saturated materials within the home or other property but is still accessible to evaporation methods. Specialty equipment may be necessary to remove the retained water from the surfaces.

Class 4 Water

Lastly, class 4 water refers to when water has saturated materials and become inaccessible to conventional methods of evaporation. Potential materials that can be affected include plaster, soaked hardwood, or vinyl. Specialty equipment and significant drying efforts are required to fix these materials.

Read our article “Classification of Water and Water Category” to learn more.


You are probably familiar with this structure in your home. These are the boards that you find where the walls meet the floor. They are often decorative and are likely to be affected by water damage because of their proximity to the floor. Typically, our technicians will remove the baseboards during the drying process to ensure drying of the inner wall areas can occur.


You may be familiar with this structure as well. The foundation is the part of the home or business structure that is located partly or completely below ground level.

Luckily, a lot of possible foundation problems involving water damage can be prevented. Learn how to prevent water from damaging your foundation and save yourself the trouble and expense of future repairs.


We find chemicals virtually everywhere in our daily lives in our kitchens, bathrooms, garages and elsewhere. Some are harmful to humans and the environment, so efforts are taken to reduce these risks. Others are used in specialized situations such as our proprietary chemicals used to remediate, restore, and clean your home or business. Upon request, you can access the Safety Data Sheets for our chemicals. An SDS is a document that outlines hazards, precautions, and procedures for a chemical.


A biocide is a chemical used to kill living organisms (USDA). These can be natural or synthetic and we utilize these agents to sanitize areas affected by Categories 2 and 3 water damage.


Disinfectants include chemicals and other substances that destroy unwanted pathogenic microorganisms, except for spores on inanimate surfaces. These agents are commonly used during various restoration cleaning processes as well.


Antimicrobial agents inhibit microorganism growth. Oftentimes, you can find these in over the counter consumer products used for household cleaning.

Air Movers

Air movers are not conventional fans. Rather, these pieces of equipment are used in the mitigation process to facilitate the drying of the water damaged areas in your home or business. They are high speed, promote evaporation, and the number of air movers needed to complete the job will depend on the size of the area.

Air Scrubber

Air scrubbers are high volume devices that remove contaminants, particulate matter, and odors from the air. The use of these systems will depend on the specifics of the damage to your structure.


The process of dehumidification includes the drying or removal of water vapor in a given area. A dehumidifier is a piece of equipment used to accomplish this. The number of dehumidifiers required to achieve the drying process will depend on the size of the affected structure.


Deodorization is the process of masking or removing odors. When a smell remains on your salvaged items, our crew will take the steps necessary to deodorize them. Possible techniques include fogging, or the use of an air scrubber equipped with HEPA filtration.

Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation occurs through openings such as doors, windows, and non-powered ventilators (IAVM).  


HVAC stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. 


Salvaged, or recovered materials from your property can be saved and reused by you. Most items affected by Category 1, “clean water’ damage can be salvaged.


Unsalvageable items cannot be saved and reused. In instances of Category 2, “gray water” and Category 3, “black water” damage, carpets and other fibrous materials are not likely to be salvaged. Objects that are found to be unsalvageable will be reported to your insurance with the proper documentation.

Furniture Pads or Blocks

In order to prevent stains on your flooring, our crew technicians will place a small pad or block between the furniture and the floors affected by water damage. We want to prevent any unnecessary damage or distress to you and your home or commercial property.

Hardwood Floor Cupping

When wood flooring expands and contracts in response to changing moisture concentrations, you may see bends, cups or valleys in the wood beams. This means that there is too much moisture and possibly inadequate temperature control in the room or rooms. When water sits too long on a hardwood surface, you will see cupping develop.

If our staff finds any instance of this during the cleanup, they will prioritize extracting the water, drying and trying to save the flooring.


This refers to when moisture saturation leads to structural deformation. When this occurs, you may see twisting, bending, or bowing. (RIA).


A subfloor is unfinished and serves as a supporting surface to a finished floor. It is possible for water to reach subfloor surfaces and proper drying measures would be taken to address this.


Day to day monitoring of the job progress at your home or commercial property is an important step of the restoration process. Every day, our technicians will pay a visit to the job, monitor the levels of drying that have occurred, assess the overall state of the area and remove, add, or change any equipment as needed.


In cases of permanent damage to adhered or attached parts of your home or business, those compromised areas will need to be removed by our technicians. After drying the structure or structures, our reconstruction team will work with your insurance company on the rebuilding process.

Floods and Flood Damage

Flood damage is distinct from general water damage. Flood water is specifically implicated in damaging your structure, as opposed to other sources of water from inside your structure. North Texas floods are not unheard of and we can help you in the event you find yourself in need of water damage restoration following an episode of flooding. Such natural disasters have substantial human, social and economic consequences. It is always best to be aware of your own individual risk and location’s vulnerability to flooding.

Below we cover some terms related to floods and flood damage.


Floodplains are land areas that are susceptible to flooding. These low land areas are generally adjacent to bodies of water such as streams or rivers. (UWEC). The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website offers detailed flood maps for public reference (FEMA). You can use these to see how close you live to a designated floodplain by looking up your home or business address.

Primary Flood Hazard

This refers to the effects of floods due to direct contact with the water. Examples of primary hazards are water damage to homes and their furnishings, automobile damage, structural erosion, and transport of large objects such as automobiles or outside structures like mailboxes. 

Secondary Flood Hazard

Secondary hazards occur as a result of the preceding primary ones. For instance, drinking water supplies can become contaminated and electrical services may be disrupted.

Long Term Hazards

Long term hazards refer to long term changes that are detrimental to a community or region. These include changes to river channels, deposits of sediment that impair land use, and wildlife habitat destruction.

Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Flood Damage?

We cannot comment on your insurance coverage details. Each individual plan is unique, and you will have to contact your provider for the specifics.

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

Widely trusted in the restoration industry for decades, we can handle any water damage emergency.

SERVPRO of Richardson is an independently owned and operated 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 to dispatch and we can be reached 24/7 at (972) 690-1414.

Call us at any time!

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