A flooded home is never a good thing, and can cause serious damage if not treated immediately. The steps you must take to clean up the damage though depend on what category of water has infiltrated your home.

Category 1: Clean Water

Flooding from leaky appliance hoses, faulty toilet tanks, melting snow and rainwater can lead to Category 1 damage. The water poses no immediate health risk, so it’s generally safe to clean up the damage yourself. Soak up the water with towels or similar items and throw them in the dryer. Set up fans in the wet area and open the windows, if possible, to increase air circulation and speed up the drying process.

Just remember that time is of the essence. Mold can set in after as little as 24 to 48 hours. If you detect a musty odor where water damage has occurred, it is best to leave the cleanup process to a professional.

Category 2: Gray Water

Also called sullage, gray water is any wastewater that is not contaminated with sewage. In a household, gray water comes from kitchen and bathroom sinks, tubs and showers, dishwashers and washing machines. A leaky drain, overflowing appliance, or weather event can cause gray water damage.

If gray water has saturated your carpet, drywall and/or furniture, take care when starting the cleanup process. After all, while it contains fewer pathogens than Category 3 damage, gray water may still induce illness if ingested. If you attempt to clean up a small sullied area yourself, don protective gear and keep pets and children away while you work.

In instances with extensive flooding, such as several inches of water in the basement, it is advisable to hire a qualified water restoration company to safely clean and decontaminate the area. Remember, time is a factor, and Category 2 water can progress to Category 3 in as little as one to two days.

Category 3: Black Water

Wastewater contaminated with fecal matter or other pathogens or toxins is considered black water. Broken sewer pipes, overflowing toilets, and water from food preparation sinks, dishwashers, and weather events may contain black water. This is a haven for dangerous bacteria, chemicals, and particulates that can cause serious illness if you touch or ingest it. Black water is also the most destructive because its unclean nature renders carpet, upholstery, drywall, and other porous, absorbent items unsalvageable.

Don’t risk your health—if your home has been flooded by wastewater, raw sewage, or stormwater, it could be considered Category 3 damage. Leave the cleanup process to a experienced professional who will work to salvage as many of your belongings as possible.

If you suspect damage from gray water, black water, or mold, we recommend contacting a professional water restoration and mold remediation company immediately. Expect a thorough assessment and cleanup from DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization. We have over 48 years of experience helping homes and businesses recover from floods and other disasters. Call us at 844-354-2255 or contact us online 24/7 to request water damage restoration when you need it most.