One of the first factors that you need to consider when facing a flood cleanup is the type of water that you're dealing with. There are several different water classifications, and each one refers to a specific level of contamination and bacteria in the water. You need to understand each of these flood water types and how they could affect your remediation efforts, particularly if you want to restore your home and live in it afterward.
Category 1: Clean
If you have to experience a flood of any kind, clean water is the best one to deal with. This water poses no immediate threat to your general health. It's typically water from sources such as snow melt, broken plumbing lines and heavy rain.
This kind of flood water is easy to deal with, because you just have to pump the water out and dry the space out. It's important to do it right away, though. If you let clean water sit for more than a day or two, it's likely to be affected by the general contaminants in the environment, which will create gray water.
Category 2: Gray
Gray water is more concerning. It's water that poses some degree of moderate health and safety concern, typically from some kind of contaminant. In most situations, gray water is the water drained from a source such as a washing machine, dishwasher or shower drain.
The levels of contamination in gray water are usually minimal, which means that you can usually pump it out, dry the area out and then treat the whole space with a disinfectant. This should help prevent bacteria from growing further in the space. Like clean water, though, if you don't address gray water within a day or so, the bacteria will thrive and can create black water.
Category 3: Black
Black water is usually the most concerning, because it's water that's potentially heavily contaminated or contains something that is highly contagious, such as a serious virus. Most black water is waste water, such as sewer overflows or something similar.
Black water can carry many contaminants, including norovirus, cholera, and more. This type of flood water must be addressed with proper safety equipment. If you suspect that the water in your home is contaminated, it is essential that you hire a flood restoration specialist to handle it properly. Not only is protective gear required during the pumping process, but the whole space will need to be treated with heavy disinfectants, if not stripped down and reconstructed.