• Carlie Dillon

Types of Water Damage and How to Prevent it

Water damage refers to water hitting your home before touching the outside ground (floods). It is usually covered by your homeowners insurance. Depending on your coverage, things such as a roof leak, busted pipe, faulty pump, or other plumbing issues, could potentially all qualify.

The severity of water damage is summarized into Three Categories & Four Classes:

Category 1 Water Damage - Refers to damage from a source of water that does not pose substantial threat to humans and is classified as "clean water". Examples are broken water lines, possible slab leak if the water has not been contaminated by mold or sewage, or appliance malfunctions that involves water supply lines.

Category 2 Water Damage- "Gray Water" is a type of water damage that carries microorganisms and nutrients of microorganisms. This refers to damage from a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological, or physical contaminants and can potentially cause discomfort or sickness when exposed or consumed.

Category 3 Water Damage- Is known as "black water" and is grossly unsanitary. This water contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness. This category includes water sources from sewage, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water.

Class of water damage is determined by the probable rate of evaporation based on the type of materials that have been wet in the flooded home.

Determining the class of water damage is an important first step, and will determine the process used to dry the home.

Class 1 water damage- Slow Evaporation Rate- Affects only a portion of a room. Materials have a low permeance, and a minimum moisture has been absorbed.

Class 2 water damage - Fast Evaporation Rate- Water has affected the entire room of carpet, and it may have begun up the walls, but not more than 24 inches.

Class 3 water damage - Fastest Rate of Evaporation- Water generally comes from overhead, affecting more than 40% of the walls, ceilings, and flooring.

Class 4 water damage - Specialty Drying Situations- Involves materials with a very low permeance, such as hardwood floors, concrete, crawlspaces, and plaster. The drying generally requires low specific humidity to be completed.

Here are some of the different sources of water damage and how you can prevent their occurrence.

Busted pipes. When winter brings low nightly temperatures, pipes become vulnerable to freezing. A poorly insulated pipe can freeze and cause a burst that leads to flooding and other structural damage. Prevent this from happening by better insulating your pipes and leaving a small flow of water running from the faucets. The more pipe insulation used, the better. Also, keeping the thermostat set a little higher can make a big difference in keeping your pipes warm enough to withstand conditions.

Sewage back-up. To prevent water damage from a sewer back-up, ensure that the main waste water pipe is fitted with a back-flow valve. This will help reduce the risk of damages so long as it is inspected by a plumber on a regular basis.

Roof leak. Flat roofs use roof drains to evacuate water. These drains should be inspected annually and cleaned of any fallen leaves and other debris. Clogged gutters, downspouts, or drainage systems can lead to water damage for the exterior and interior building walls. The roof deck and membrane should also be inspected for any red flags or leaks. For sloped or hip roofs shingles should be inspected on a regular basis. Checking these areas regularly should ensure water is draining properly and not into the building.

Water heaters. Water heaters don’t last forever. Corrosion will eventually damage the tank, leading to leakage. This can be reduced by installing the water heater in a tray or drip pan, which can reroute the excess water to a better area. Stay on top of setting a replacement date before the first signs of trouble appear. Water heaters should be inspected every 10 years of use. It is usually recommended to replace tanks after this time period or sometimes sooner based on the quality of the water.

Overflow of sinks and tubs. Overflowing sinks can cause extensive water damage if not found in a timely manner. This is usually a result of either blocked/slow drains or by neglecting taps running over an extended period of time. Always inspect the area where this could occur before vacating the premises.

Supply Lines. All supply lines to toilets, sinks, tubs, fridge, etc. should be changed or inspected as needed. This can prevent a future burst and structural damages.


Water damage restoration is often began by a loss assessment and evaluation of damaged materials. The damaged area is inspected in order to determine the source and extent of the damage. Your restoration service will begin drying out the structure, sanitize any affected or cross-contaminated areas, and deodorize all affected areas and materials. After cleaning/demo, water damage equipment such as air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and sub-floor drying equipment is left in the residence. We will closely monitor the equipment, temperature, humidity, and moisture content of the affected structure throughout the drying process.

As always, call us immediately if you do have a pipe burst or discover water damage. It is your responsibility as the homeowner and policy holder to begin the mitigation process to mitigate damages before they worsen, as written in your policy. As your contractor, T. Ryals Emergency Restoration, will aid and walk you through the claims policy and working with your insurance company every step of the way. Don't stress! We clean up the mess so you don't have to.