How Safe Is the Water in Your Water Damaged Home

water damaged home

Home water damage presents a threat to more than just the house structure and contents. In many cases, home water damage can also be a health hazard to occupants of the house. Water from indoor sources, or water entering from the outdoors, can rapidly become a potential contributor to physical reactions ranging from simple irritation to severe illness.  

Here’s a summary of hazards presented by water damage in the home.

Water from broken or leaking plumbing lines.

Water originating directly from a ruptured or disconnected household water supply line—known as Category 1—is initially sanitary and presents the least hazard if clean-up and drying occur promptly. This includes water lines leading to fixtures like faucets, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.

Water present for an extended time period.

If Category 1 water is present for 48 hours, active mold contamination becomes likely. Toxic airborne mold spores may cause physical symptoms and illness if inhaled. The extended time period also spawns the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. As time elapses, toxins present in building materials like glues and solvents may become dissolved into the water, as well.

Water from unclean indoor sources.

Examples of mildly polluted sources of home water damage include soapy water from overflowing washing machines or dishwashers, toilet overflows, rain entering living spaces through roof leaks, or water inundation due to a malfunctioning sump pump. This Category 2 water could cause irritation and possible illness. Occupants should avoid direct contact with this water and also avoid affected areas of the house. Professional water damage recovery personnel will wear some personal protective equipment (PPE) around this water.

External toxic water sources.

Two sources of home water damage are always considered Category 3 toxic water, also known as “Black Water:”

  • Raw sewage backup into the house
  • Outdoor flooding entering the house

These sources containing both bacterial and chemical toxins are extremely hazardous and must be handled only by qualified water damage professionals equipped for the job. Occupants may need to be temporarily evacuated to avoid potentially serious illness from exposure to Category 3 home water damage.

Tags: ,

Return to the Blog Home Page