When it comes to cleaning up water from your home, not all water should be treated equally. Some water may be perfectly sanitary while other types of water should be treated with extreme caution. Here, you’ll learn about the different types of water, what they look like and how to handle each type.
CLEAN WATER—CATEGORY 1 WATER
A good indication of the type of water you’re dealing with is the actual color of the water. If the water is clear, it is usually safe to handle. This type of water may be rainwater or water from a busted pipe. However, you should still use basic safety precautions when dealing with clear water. Now that the water has come in contact with the floor or other parts of your home, it could be contaminated with whatever it has come into contact with. Use common sense measures like washing your hands after cleaning up the water no matter how clean it looks. Clean water should also be dried immediately because even though it is clean, any type of moisture can cause water damage and mold growth.
GRAY WATER—CATEGORY 2 WATER
Gray water may appear cloudy or a bit dirty and is less safe than white water. This type of water comes from dishwashers, washing machines, sinks and other sources from your home (other than the toilet). Basically, gray water is white water that has been used. Therefore, gray water is contaminated with whatever it came into contact with like soap or food particles. Like white water, gray water should be cleaned up immediately, especially since gray water may contain bacteria that will multiple if left stagnant.
BLACK WATER—CATEGORY 3 WATER
Black water is water that is brown or black. It is very dangerous and should be treated with extreme caution. Also known as sewage or brown water, black water has come into contact with human waste (fecal matter and urine). This means the water may be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing biological contaminants. If you have black water in your home, also known as an unsanitary flood, you should avoid contact and call a professional immediately.
HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE
White, gray and black water can be identified a few different ways. One way is a visual inspection. As described above, each type of water is a certain color: white water is clear; gray water is cloudy or dirty; and black water is black or brown. Another indicator of the type of water you’re dealing with is the smell: white water will not have a smell, while black water certainly will. Basically, the darker the water is, the more dangerous it is. And the more the water smells, the more contaminated it is. Another way to determine the type of water is where the water came from, if known. A leak on a rainy day or water from a busted water supply pipe is white water. Dirty water from a non-plumbing appliance (like the dishwasher or washing machine) is gray water. And black water is water from the toilet or plumbing system that contains human waste.
GET HELP WITH YOUR WATER INCIDENT
No matter what type of water you’re dealing with, a professional water removal company is your best friend when it comes to cleaning it up. They will have the knowledge and expertise, plus the right equipment, to remove the water safely and effectively. They also know how to deal with different types of water and understand the dangers of certain types of water. If you need help with a water incident, call Scott and his team at Master Clean. They've been helping property owners in Northern Wisconsin deal with their water damage for decades.