Why is Flood Water Considered to be Category 3?
In water damage restoration, we use different categories as a shorthand to assess the level of contamination in the water that we encounter. Category 1 water is relatively clean (e.g. a water supply line); Category 2 water is significantly contaminated (e.g. a dishwasher leak); and Category 3 water is grossly contaminated (e.g. sewage).
Many people are surprised to find out that flood water is considered to be Category 3. In their minds, flood water either came from heavy rains or from a nearby body of water. While you might not want to drink the water from your local creek, it hardly seems like it should be considered to be “grossly contaminated.”
With flood water, this categorization usually stems less from the source of the water and more from what the water picked up on the way. You have no idea what kind of sediment, pathogens or contamination that the water encountered before it made its way into your structure. Since the water is likely full of hitchhiking contaminants, we consider it to be Category 3 and treat it accordingly.