The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is one of the largest non-government organizations in the United States that sets standards for people in the field of flood restoration. Among its many contributions to the fields of inspection and cleaning, the IICRC has created a Water Damage Classification (WDC) system, to better assist the treatment of damage in buildings or homes that have been overexposed to water. In the event that your home is damaged and needs to undergo flood restoration, it is important that you understand the WDC, as doing so will allow you to be aware of the potential threats to your property.

The WDC is broken down into four classes, each one determined by the volume of water present in a designated area. These grades go from 1 to 4, with 4 having the most severe consequences in regards to property deterioration and potential health threats.

Class 1: Limited Intrusion

A minimal amount of liquid has been introduced into the area. The area might also have a high potential for evaporation, with little extenuating damage to furniture, walls, carpet, and carpet cushions. For some Class 1 situations, it might be possible to dry out the area with fans.

Class 2: Some spread

This grade indicates that some moisture has spread beyond a single spot in the room. It might have risen into the walls, where it can be absorbed into the insulation or structural materials, such as timber, concrete, or particleboard. It might also have been absorbed into the padding beneath the carpet or flooring. These areas have the potential to grow mold or other growths if left unchecked.

Class 3: Invasive Liquid

In this grade, most surfaces in the area, including walls, ceilings, flooring, and furniture, have been soaked with moisture. Lines or marks on the walls indicating moisture can be found more than 2 feet above the floor. Damage like this is often caused by burst plumbing in a second-floor room leaking into the ceiling or through the walls. In cases like this, it is sometimes necessary to remove some of the building materials, as the extensive damage will render them irreparable. Special drying and dehumidification equipment will be required to return some remaining stuffs to their pre-damage state.

Class 4: Inaccessible Material

In some cases, flooding to the area is so severe that items not normally exposed or accessible are saturated with liquid. This makes it extremely difficult or impossible for traditional flood restoration techniques to save these materials. Special drying and dehumidification equipment, as well as more advanced techniques, can sometimes be used to dry components in crawl-spaces, under oil-based paint, behind cabinets, etc. It is also sometimes the case that these materials are not salvageable.

In addition to assessing the severity of damage in a location, an inspector must also determine the quality of the liquid permeating the area. “Clean Water” is much easier to address than a situation with “Black Water,” or water that can contain potentially life-threatening organisms. The presence of Black Water might affect your space’s grading.

After an inspector has assessed the nature of the damage to your property and belongings, he or she will work with a team of certified IICRC-certified technicians to begin bringing your home back to its original state. They will use everything from old-fashioned scrubbing to microbial remediation to rid the space of moisture and any potentially threatening organisms. The IICRC’s WDC grading will help make this an easier process, should your home ever need flood restoration.