Category 3 Water Loss Defined


Is this a Category 3 Water Loss????


It is definitely a challenge when trying to determine the category of your current water loss. So much of it is just an opinion. We have to clearly understand the definition given to us in the S500 and use it to make our educated decision on the Category of Loss we are working with.

The definition in the S500 tells us that a Category 3 water loss has grossly contaminated water. Contaminates are considered something that can cause significant adverse reactions when humans come in contact with it. We definitely want to know what we are working with when it comes to contaminates. We want to make sure to protect the safety of the occupants and the restoration techs that will be working on that property.

Sewage water


How to Determine Contamination


There are a lot of factors that we can take into consideration when looking for contaminates and the potential for our cat 3 loss. Time and temperature will play a role in making our decision. The most common reason for this type of loss is sewage. No matter what the area looks like if there has been sewage in contact with the property, we would consider it a Category 3.

With a Category 3 Water Loss there is a lot of bacteria in that environment and we have to get it out of there.


There are 5 things that are going to change in the way we process this type of loss:


  1. Restorer and Occupant Protection
  2. Containment Barriers and Negative Ventilation in Place
  3. Limiting Air Flow Prior to Decontamination
  4. Remove Highly Porous Materials or Multiple Layers In Affected Area
  5. Through Washing of Building Materials and Antimicrobial Application


Once all of the contaminants have been removed you can then begin the drying process. Make sure you are identifying the level on contamination on your next project and put all of your findings in the estimate, along with the definition you were going by when you made the choice of Category 3 Water Loss.

Clean and Dry is our end goal for everyone involved. Taking the right steps is very important. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the definitions in the S500 and making sure you are using them in your estimates to justify your call on your Category of Choice.

A house that is clean and dry makes for one happy customer!

Want to learn how to properly clean and remediate any water loss? Sign up for our IICRC WRT/ASD Combo today!



Jeremy Reets

Jeremy Reets started in water restoration in 1990. He is known as the innovator of the TES/ETES drying systems and a discipline of drying called Directed Heat Drying™. He developed the Evaporation Potential formula for use by restorers. He opened Reets Drying Academy and flood house in 2005 to provide water damage restoration education. In 2011, Jeremy developed Reets.TV, a series of online water restoration training packages


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