What is Cat 3 Dirty Water?

Cat3, or Category 3, is the most severe type of water damage a property owner can encounter. Often times, this type of damage is referred to as dirty water or black water. This is highly contaminated water that could be very toxic to any occupants inside the dwelling. There could be organic substances that are toxic, heavy metals, pesticides and raw sewage in this water. What distinguishes this water damage from the first two categories, is the possible presence of harmful agents that could be toxigenic or pathogenic.

Cat3 water is unsanitary, containing organisms that make people sick and other bacteria. Common causes of Cat3 water damage are standing waters that become contaminated and problems related to the sewage system. Anytime the sewage system backs up, the resulting water damage could be potentially dangerous and cause serious illnesses. Cat3 damage could possibly be fatal if any of the water is ingested. Black water usually comes from a source that is already substantially contaminated.

Aside from sewage lines, other sources of black water include rising ground water, overflowing toilets and floodwater coming from streams or rivers nearby. If Category 1 or Category 2 is left untreated for more than three days, it’s likely to develop into Category 3 water damage. Even though “black water” is the conventional terminology used for Cat3 damage, this contaminated water can be any color or completely translucent. Either way, this water often contains microbes, caustic chemicals, and raw sewage.

Because of the potential health hazards, it’s important to contact a restoration company as soon as the Cat3 water damage has occurred. Safely cleaning this type of water contamination typically requires special equipment and training. Typically, Cat3 damage means that many components of the property may need to be replaced, including the furniture, carpeting, and drywall. Properly cleaning and drying the materials inside after a sudden burst of Category 1 or 2 water are the most effective ways to eliminate any harmful bacteria on the premises.

The restoration industry identifies Cat3 water damage is being grossly unsanitary. Once the damage has been identified as Cat3, restorers typically must assess the extent of the damage, ranging from Class 1 to 4. The classification assesses the how much of the area has been affected, the evaporation rate and the degree in which different types of materials have been saturated by the dirty water. Structural instability and toxic mold are potential risks of the dwelling are improperly dried following Cat3 water damage.

When a property has Cat3 water damage, only a properly trained and certified restorer is qualified enough to make the premises safe enough to live in again. Each instance of Category 3 water damage is unique, but professional restorers understand how to tailor their approach to the circumstances specific to the particular environment they’re working in.

One of the first things restorers do with this type of water damage is to identify potential safety hazards like buckling drywall or electrical wiring in standing water. Thereafter, professional restorers will systematically work through a checklist until the property is completely restored, including identifying the source, extracting the water, inspecting the property and replacing any damaged materials.