Understanding Water Damage

Water Damage

There are a number of things that can cause a significant amount of water damage. The things that come quickly to mind are floods, and broken water pipes. There are a few others that we really don’t think about until they happen. Roof leaks, backed up septic systems, broken waterbeds, and fire to name a few. The important thing for everyone to remember is that not all water damage is the same.  The most important issue when approaching a water damage situation is knowing where the water came from and what it went through to get there.

Water is classified into three categories, Black or Brown Water, Gray Water, and White Water. These classifications indicate the possible level of contaminates in the water.

Black or Brown Water

The term black\brown water is almost always associated with a sewer spill. It will also be used to identify flood water since there is no way, without testing, for you to know what could be in the water. Any spill that you are not certain of should be classified as black\brown water.

Gray Water

Gray water is typically water that came from a washer, dishwasher or other such source. Gray water is likely to have soap or detergent in it. Rain water is also gray water. The easiest way to define gray water is to say that it would be okay to water the plants but you really do not want to drink it.

White Water

White water may also be referred to as potable water meaning it would be okay to drink it. White water spills such as broken water pipes are by far the easiest spills to contend with.


1-     Water line to Ice maker spill onto floor (White Water)

2-     Shower overflow (Gray Water)

3-     Toilet back up (Brown Water)

4-     Broken Water Bed (Brown Water) Stagnation and unknown chemicals

5- Leaky Roof (Brown Water) unknown chemicals from roofing material.

Why should you know this?

The reason you should know this is that improper handling of some types of water damage issues can cause health issues and sometimes they can be life threatening.

This list provided by The World Health Organization at http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/diseasefact/en/index.html can give you some idea about the scope of the problems/

  • Anaemia
  • Arsenicosis
  • Ascariasis
  • Campylobacteriosis.
  • Cholera.
  • Cyanobacterial Toxins
  • Dengue and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever.
  • Diarrhoea .
  • Fluorosis
  • Guinea-Worm Disease (Dracunculiasis).
  • Hepatitis.
  • Japanese Encephalitis.
  • Leptospirosis
  • Malaria .
  • Methaemoglobinemia
  • Onchocerciasis (River Blindness).
  • Ringworm (Tinea)
  • Scabies
  • Schistosomiasis.
  • Trachoma.
  • Typhoid and Paratyphoid Enteric Fevers.

Are you Prepared?

Most states in the U.S. require that people who are likely to come into contact with contaminated water to be vaccinated to the fullest extent possible. They are also at least where I live required to successfully complete a rigorous training course and to be certified in dealing with black\brown water.

It is never wise to assume that the water is not contaminated unless you know with 100% certainty that it is not. Erring on the side of caution and safety is always the preferable course of action.

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Comments 1 comment

Dale Mazurek profile image

Dale Mazurek 6 years ago from Canada

Another wonderful hub by a wonderful hubber.

Keep up the great work my friend.

The hub is now up on my blog.



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