The 3 Types of Flood Water and Their Risks

Have you suffered a flooding event in your home or business? Acting quickly and decisively is key to a successful recovery and minimal loss. But, to act quickly and correctly, you need to know what type of water has invaded your building. Is it clean water, gray water, or black water? The answer will inform what steps to take next.

So, what is the difference between these types of flood water? And how should you respond to each? Here are some answers to guide you.

Clean Water

‘Clean’ water is the safest form of flooding. This is generally uncontaminated water that you might normally find coming from faucets or shower heads. Flooding emergencies that happen with clean water usually come from a broken water line, a ruptured toilet tank, or rain leaking into the house. Working in such floods calls for reasonable, but not severe, personal protective equipment.

Clean water floods are more likely to end with a complete recovery and minimal losses as long as the water is removed quickly. Cleanup often utilizes high-powered fans, vacuums, and dehumidifiers. You can also often dry out fabrics and organic material that were briefly submerged. Memorabilia or personal items are usually recoverable, with the exception of physical damage by any moisture (i.e. warping or curling).

The longer this clean water sits around stagnant and in contact with the elements, though, the more contaminated it will become. Without proper treatment, clean water will become gray water in as little as 48 hours.

Gray Water

Gray water is called such because it’s a middle ground between the mostly-uncontaminated clean (‘white’) water and possibly-toxic black water.

Gray water floods come from sources of ‘used’ or chemical-filled water rather than clean sources. ‘Used’ water generally mean water that went down the sink, shower, clothes washer, or dishwasher drains. Examples of chemically-altered water would include home aquariums or waterbeds. While unsafe for human consumption, it’s the type of water you might still use on the lawn.

Gray water must be cleaned up quickly to avoid becoming contaminated with more dangerous elements. After about two days, gray water is generally assumed to be developing bacteria, viruses, or mold and should be treated with the more aggressive measures used for ‘black water.’

Black Water

Black water is the worst case scenario for flooding. Essentially, it’s raw sewage — water contaminated with biological waste, blood, fecal matter, urine, and other health hazards. These form the most fertile breeding ground for viruses, bacteria, fungi, mold, and protozoans.

Belongings subjected to sewer emergencies may not be recoverable. Carpet, wall boards, ceiling tiles, insulation, upholstered furnishings, curtains, and wall coverings easily absorb the dangerous elements of black water and usually need to be discarded. Non-porous materials like solid wood, metal, glass, or vinyl might be recovered with thorough sanitation and cleaning.

Property owners should not attempt to clean up black water flooding on their own. The risk to health and safety is high, and proper protective equipment (such as respirators and protective suits) needs to be worn at all times. Professional recovery specialists will know how to determine what might be saved and what is too dangerous to keep. Since time is of the utmost importance, work with an experienced service immediately.

No matter what type of water damage you suffer, quick cleanup with the proper equipment is vital. Without it, clean water can become gray and gray water can become deadly. At Apex Contracting And Restoration Inc, we know how to quickly resolve all sorts of interior water emergencies to keep them from escalating. Call today to learn how we can help you.

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