What You Can And Can't Save When You've Had A Flood In Your Home

Posted on: 15 July 2015

If a part of your home floods, the types of items you can salvage depend on the kind of water that flooded your home and how long the items have been wet. Quick action is the key to recovering many personal effects from flood waters. Here is how to determine what you can and can't save from a devastating flood.

Sources of Flood Water

Flood water can come from inside or outside of your house. Common sources of internal flooding include:

  • toilets
  • washing machines
  • dishwashers
  • water lines
  • drain pipes
  • sewer lines

External flooding can come from:

  • city sewers
  • rain water
  • broken water main
  • streams, creeks and rivers

Categorizing Flood Water

Because flood water can come from a number of sources, water damage restoration companies use a three-tiered system to categorize the water. This helps them decide what can be saved and what must be thrown away. It also gives you some idea of how difficult saving something will be.

Category 1 - This is water that has no contaminants in it that could cause people to become sick. You could work in this water to rescue your personal items without becoming infected with a dangerous microorganism. An example is a bathtub that overflows.

Category 2 - This water has microorganisms in it that would make people sick if they drank the water. You could work in this water with certain precautions, such as boots and gloves. This is also called gray water, and an example would be an overflowing toilet.

Category 3 - This water will make you sick just by exposing your skin to it. Working in this water requires protective gear from head to toe. This is called black water, and a broken city sewer line is one example.

Salvage Decisions Based on Category

Items soaked by category 1 water can be saved if dried out quickly and thoroughly. For example, a soaked carpet should be pulled up and dried within 24 hours. Otherwise, there is a risk of mold and mildew developing in the carpet which will then require disinfecting to salvage.

Items soaked with category 2 water will be contaminated with microorganisms. The items must first be thoroughly dried, then cleaned by a professional water damage restoration company.

Anything soaked by category 3 water should be thrown away. Any attempts to clean these items will be expensive and likely damage them.

If you aren't able to tell if the flood water in your home is contaminated, contact a water restoration company for help before you attempt to save anything. You'll put yourself and your family at risk of exposure to harmful organisms that may cause serious health issues later on.