hour Emergency Service
Water Damage - Category III Black Water Damage
speaking, August and September are the most active months for
hurricanes in the Atlantic/Gulf Regions. In addition, there are
often severe storms throughout the rest of the nation during these
months. All of these events have the potential of releasing record
amounts of rain in some areas and causing serious flooding across
According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration
Certification (IICRC) standard for professional water damage restoration
(ANSI/IICRC S500-2006), Category III water damage (often called
black water) is water damage to a structure where the origin is
unsanitary or potentially infectious to humans. The black water
classification also includes less contaminated water not treated
in a timely manner. The classification depends on the origin of
the water damage and the time of exposure - regardless of the
actual color or appearance of the water. Some examples of Category
III black water include: all sewage backflows and all rising water
from rivers, streams, and seawater that enter a structure. Hurricanes
and storms are usually the causes of this type of damage.
with Category III water damage, a professional restoration business
should consider several basic factors. First, the safety of the
building occupants and all workers is the primary consideration.
Second, the business should conduct a thorough inspection to determine
the severity of the damage since that will affect the restoration
process. Third, there should be the rapid removal of excess water,
the removal of all contaminated porous items, and the proper disposal
of the sewage and other wastes. Finally, the professional will
need to establish a Balanced Drying System to restore the environment
to its pre-loss, normally dry state.
all instances must be the very first consideration when exposure
to Category III contaminates is a possibility. Category III water
intrusion could contain many harmful viruses including Hepatitis
A, Rotavirus, Adenoviruses, and Enteroviruses. Several parasites
and many kinds of harmful bacteria could also be present. And,
of course, numerous fungi in the form of mold spores are also
present and can become a serious problem if timely decontamination
does not occur and if professional drying does not begin within
twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
water intrusion can be subdivided into three levels that will
help the professional restoration business process the contamination
III Level 1 contamination is usually a very limited waste
problem. It always originates inside the building or house, affects
a small area, does not affect porous material, does not penetrate
the structure, and has had limited time of exposure. A small toilet
overflow is one example.
III Level 2 contamination also originates inside the building.
However, the area of direct contamination is larger. Porous materials
as well as non-porous materials are affected. Restoration must
be more thorough to include removing moisture barriers like vinyl
and plastics that will contain the contamination. Cabinets and
other structural enclosures must be inspected and possibly removed
if the contamination is present - especially if it is inside the
walls behind these items. All contaminated porous items such as
drywall, carpet, pad, upholstery, drapery, or particleboard furniture
must be removed and properly disposed of.
- Category III Level 3 contamination includes water and
waste coming from an outside source such as a septic system, main
sewage line, rivers, streams, and ocean waters. Level 3 indicates
more contamination for a longer period and presents a much greater
water losses present serious risk of illness. Therefore, contractors
should ensure that all employees wear appropriate personal protective
equipment. For Level 1 losses, eye protection, gloves, and boots
(or shoe covers) may be sufficient. For Level 2 and Level 3 the
protection would be more extensive, which could include waterproof
coveralls and respirators.
restoration business will know when to use an air scrubber to
clean the air, or a negative air machine with containment to prevent
contamination from spreading to unaffected areas. They will also
make certain that all remaining surfaces are cleaned and sanitized
with appropriate cleaners and EPA-approved disinfectants.
a Category III black water loss, a professional restoration business
will understand and use proper procedures, techniques, products,
and equipment (such as professional dehumidifiers and high capacity
air movers) to establish a Balanced Drying System to help restore
property to its pre-loss condition safely and as rapidly as possible.