When a water loss occurs it is important to take immediate action to begin restoring the community. Hiring a knowledgeable contractor who is properly certified with experience in water loss related projects can ensure residents are back in their homes as quickly and safely as possible.
Identify the Type of Water Loss
Initially, it is important for a community to identify the type of water loss they are experiencing. Per the IICRC S500 Standards and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration, there are three categories of water that cause damage in buildings.
• Category 1 Water: Referred to as “clean water” – Presents no significant risk of causing sickness or discomfort, but can become progressively contaminated as it mixes with soils on or within floor coverings or building assemblies. Water loss examples include: burst water pipes, failed supply lines on appliances, vertically falling rainwater.
• Category 2 Water: Referred to as “grey water” – Begins with some degree of contamination and could cause sickness or discomfort if consumed by humans. Water loss examples include: aquariums, waterbed leak, toilet bowl flow (urine only), dishwasher or washer machine discharge.
• Category 3 Water: Referred to as “black water” – Is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans. Water loss examples include: sewage, rising flood water from rivers/streams, ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes.
Know When to Call a Contractor
If the damage is a category 1 water loss, a facility manager can usually handle the clean up and repair without having to bring in a contractor. This type of damage will be manageable if there is minimal water present in a structure or if the leak or water damage occurs in an isolated location of the room. If the water is deemed to be category 2 or 3, a contractor should be called immediately. However, a facility manager should always err on the side of caution and contact a professional if unsure about the type of water or extensiveness of damage.
A restoration contractor is essential if the water damage starts affecting the walls and structure of a facility. Drying the structure can be a complex procedure and usually requires a seasoned restoration professional. If the structure is not mitigated properly, it could lead to mold and microbial growth, which can set in as early as 72 hours after a water loss and can result in building damage, ventilation issues and air quality concerns.
Selecting a Contractor
When selecting a contractor for the job, a facility should do extensive research on the company’s qualifications and reputation. Due to the complexity and severity of the situation, it is crucial to see if the company in question has worked in a similar capacity and has handled water loss damage. A company with little to no experience with extensive damage to a community with specific health concerns will most likely be unaware how to properly handle the situation. It is equally important to hire a contractor who has staff and technicians who are certified for the type of loss and equipment that will be needed to complete the job. Most restoration contractors will have a specific certification through the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). A reputable contractor will go over the process with community managers and staff to make sure they are clear on certain procedures, as well as how to safely go about their jobs during restoration.