The 3 Levels Of Water Contamination: What You Need To Know Before You Clean Up A Flood

Your home is flooded. Now you're trying to figure out how to clean up the mess. Before you wade into the water, you should know that not all flood water is the same. In fact, some flood water will require special care during the clean-up. When it comes to floods, water is divided up into three separate categories, based on the level of contamination. Here's what you'll need to know about the three categories you may face during your water damage clean-up efforts.

Category 1: Clean Water

The easiest floods to clean up after are those that contain category 1 water. This type of water comes from a clean source, such as a broken water faucet. Category 1 water doesn't contain any contaminates. Because there is no threat of water-borne diseases, you won't need to wear any protective clothing during the clean-up. It's important to note that category 1 water can become contaminated if it sits for too long, or if it comes in contact with a contaminated surface, such as soiled carpeting.

Category 2: Grey Water

Grey water, or category 2 water, has a small amount of contamination involved. This type of water may contain laundry detergent or even urine. It may have also been water from a clean source that became contaminated from standing too long – which can happen if your home floods while you're away. To safely clean up category 2 grey water, you should wear rubber gloves. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly once you're done with the clean-up.

Category 3: Black Water

Black water contains the highest amount of contamination. Category 3 floods come from contaminated sources such as toilets, septic tanks, as well as natural water sources such as lakes, rivers and oceans. If your home has been flooded by category 3 black water, do not attempt clean-up without protective clothing, which should include the following items.

  • Rubber gloves
  • Rubber boots
  • Face mask
  • Long sleeved shirt – tucked into gloves
  • Long pants – tucked into boots

It's also important that you discard any household items that may have come into contact with the contaminated water.

If your home has been flooded, you should begin clean-up as soon as possible. Use the information provided above to help identify the type of water you're dealing with. For serious floods, or water that is severely contaminated – contains raw sewage – you should contact a professional water damage restoration company to take care of the clean-up for you.