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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Classifications of Water and What it Means

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

Drain pipe that has sprung a leak It doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage to your home or business, SERVPRO is here to help and make it "Like it never even happened.

Water damage would be much simpler if we could think of all water causing damage as the same. But unfortunately, there are three different classifications of water: clean, gray and black. Understanding the differences in these types of water will help you understand how to better handle the situation.

What Is Clean Water?

Much like its name states, “clean” water is not the type to pose an immediate threat to your health as this water is free of contaminants. This type of water is usually found in:

Broken water lines

Malfunctioning appliances

Toilet holding tanks

Snow melt and rainwater

This is the easiest type of water damage to clean up, as there will not be as many microbes living in the water. Clean water is considered ‘Level 1’ when classifying types of water. Keep in mind, if the water is sitting for 48 hours or more and meets the surfaces of a building, it can move up to a level 2. 

What Is Gray Water?

With “gray” water, damage cleanup and restoration become more serious and involved. It may pose a health risk because it usually contains chemical or biological contamination.

Gray water can often come from dishwashers, aquariums, showers, etc. Again, the 48-hour exposure time applies here as well, because if it is not quickly treated, gray water will turn into black water.

What Is Black Water?

Black water is the third classification of damaging water and the most serious of the three classifications. It is highly contaminated by harmful chemicals and biological matter, such as floodwaters containing soil and all sewage waters.

Sewage is full of contaminating microbes, including bacteria, protozoans, molds, fungi and more, which can be harmful to humans. Some of the diseases that can be transmitted by black water are:




Gastroenteritis-type illnesses

Remember, when it comes to floods, assume that all water is black water since it will pick up contaminants as it travels along its path.

All three of these classifications are recognized by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Remediation Certification (IICRC), which is an organization that certifies and sets the standard for the cleaning and restoration industry.

SERVPRO of East Mahoning County technicians are all IICRC certified and trained in the best practices for water restoration.

It doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage to your home or business, SERVPRO of East Mahoning County is here to help get and make it "Like it never even happened." Don’t hesitate to call if you need emergency cleanup and restoration services!  (330) 536-7477.

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