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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

SERVPRO of Lake Travis / NW Austin: Understanding the Categories And Classes of Water Damage

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

Blog summary: The SERVPRO of Lake Travis / NW Austin Article is a Discussion about the 3 Categories and 4 Classes of Water Damage that Homeowners May Experience.

The categories and classes of water damage explained

Water damage can disrupt life and lead to massive losses if not addressed properly and on time. Some kinds of water damage are less severe than others and need a different treatment. SERVPRO of Lake Travis / NW Austin talks about the various categories and classes of water damage that homeowners must be aware of. This categorization and classification help in determining the severity of water damage and the extent of restoration required.

3 categories of water damage

  • Clean water

The safest of all water damages, clean water is category one. This type of damage usually comes from a sanitary source - an overflowing sink or a broken water line. It is the easiest to fix but can easily escalate into a category 2 or 3 situation if left unaddressed for too long or comes in contact with contaminated sources.  

  • Gray water

Clean water that has been left stagnant or dormant for over 24 hours becomes category 2 - gray water. This water damage, more serious than clean water, could occur due to a toilet, dishwasher, or washing machine overflowing. This water usually contains unsafe levels of microorganisms and/or a hospitable environment for the growth of microorganisms. If left unchecked, this category can quickly escalate into Category 3.

  • Black water

The most serious category of water damage, black water, often occurs due to sewage water or natural disasters such as hurricanes and heavy flooding. Occupants must stay away from black water as it can contain anything from chemicals and pesticides to bacterial diseases that can cause serious harm to health if ingested. Some symptoms that can occur from being exposed to black water are nausea, memory loss, vomiting, and liver failure.  

This contamination spreads quickly due to the cellulose in walls and flooring that serve as a food source for pathogens and fungus. The high humidity, warm temperature, and stagnant air offer an ideal environment for bacteria and mold growth.

It is imperative that homeowners do not attempt to remove black water themselves as it could prove dangerous. Professional water damage restoration teams, such as SERVPRO have the know-how and the equipment to deal with such situations.

4 Classes of Water Damage

Water damage is categorized into four classes as per the severity. The volume of the affected area, along with the type of material affected, helps determine the class. The class determines the drying out time and the type of equipment that is needed for drying and restoration.

Class 1

This is the least severe, and easiest to deal with. Here are the factors that help identify class 1 damage:

  1. It has a slow absorption rate. 
  2. A small portion of the room or area is affected.
  3. There is little to no wet carpet to restore. 
  4. Moisture has only affected materials with low permeability like plywood or concrete. 

Class 2

This class is slightly more damaging than class 1. It is characterized by the following:

  1. It has a high absorption rate.
  2. The entire room or area is affected.
  3. The carpeting and/ or cushioning is moisture-laden.
  4. Wetness has wicked at least 12 inches up the walls.
  5. There is moisture in structural materials that can pose a big threat to the safety of the building structure.

Class 3

This water damage entails the following results:

  1. Fastest absorption rate.
  2. Ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, and sub-floors become saturated with moisture. 
  3. The liquid may have come from overhead, and/or it has wicked up the walls over 24 inches.

Class 4

This water damage means:

  1. It is a specialty drying situation.
  2. Water has permeated into hardwood, plaster, and concrete that have deep pockets of saturation. 
  3. Drying these wet materials is very tricky and time-consuming.  
  4. The restoration may require more specialized methods.

Most of these classes and categories of water damage require professional water damage restoration services and cannot be and must not be addressed by a DIY approach. Homeowners can contact SERVPRO of Lake Travis / NW Austin for these water damage situations.


  • SERVPRO uses state-of-the-art equipment to bring the damaged property back to its original state. SERVPRO of Lake Travis / NW Austin is always updating its fleet and equipment so clients in Lago Vista and surrounding areas can quickly access the services. 
  • With over 1,700 US and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to respond faster to an emergency of any magnitude.
  • The SERVPRO staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. They receive initial in-house training and constant skill up-gradation at the corporate training facility and also acquire IICRC-industry certification.

For water damage restoration, call SERVPRO of Lake Travis / NW Austin today at (512) 318-2200.

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