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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Water Damage Cleanup Terms

6/26/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Libertyville/North Chicago City/Lake Bluff is a leader in the water remediation and restoration industry.

Feeling overwhelmed during a water damage is understandable.  While dealing with the shock of finding your home or commercial building flooded, you’re also wondering what’s about to happen to your property. Here are some commonly used terms to help.


This stands for Personal Protective Equipment.  The category of water that has affected your property will influence the type of PPE our water mitigation technicians will need to wear to stay safe during cleanup.  You may see them put on medical grade gloves, safety glasses, Tyvek suits, and even full face masks.

Category 1 Water

(Clean): The water is clean and sanitary.  It does not pose a substantial risk. Cat 1 water may turn into a Cat 2 or 3 water damage if it's not cleaned soon, typically within 3 days.

Category 2 Water

(Gray): This water carries waste products and is not clean, but it also does not contain human waste.  If carpet is affected, we’ll have to at least remove and dispose of the pad. The carpet itself may be saved.  Cat 2 water may turn into a Cat 3 water damage if it's not cleaned soon.

Category 3 Water

(Black): This water poses a significant health risk.  Both the carpet and pad must be disposed of. External flooding and sewage backups are both Cat 3 and contain gross contamination and present a danger of spreading bacteria and disease.


This is the measure of water vapor flow through a material.  It is basically a measure of how much water can pass through an item.  An example of a type of paint with high permeance is flat paint. Semi-gloss and glossy paints have more of a moisture barrier, so water can’t pass through them as easily.  However, once the water does pass through (water will get through anything with enough time), it’s a lot harder to get the water extracted.

Moisture Barriers

These are objects that prevent water vapor flow and thus hinder the drying process.  A great example of moisture barriers are baseboards.


This means getting the water out.  After an initial walk through and taking care of safety concerns, our water mitigation technicians will begin to extract all the standing water from your home or business.


Baseboards will likely be affected by the water damage since they are closest to the floor.  In order to dry cavities inside the walls, our technicians typically remove baseboards and drill small holes on the drywall behind it.  


You will see our technicians use various proprietary chemicals to clean and remediate your home or business.  For information about any chemical in use, please ask us. We’ll be happy to the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS).


This is a chemical agent that kills living organisms.  We use a biocide to sanitize affected Cat 2 and 3 areas.

Air Movers

An air mover is a piece of equipment that will help dry your structure.  The number of air movers used will depend on the size of the affected property.


A dehumidifier is another piece of equipment that will remove moisture from the air and help the drying structure.  The number of dehumidifiers used will depend on the size of the affected property.


This is what we can save from your structure.  Usually, almost everything is salvageable in a Cat 1 water damage.  


These are items that we cannot save.  In Cat 2 or 3 water damages, the carpet will likely not be able to be saved.  All unsalvageable objects will be documented and reported to your insurance agency.

Furniture Pads or Blocks

You may see our technicians lifting your furniture and putting a small pad or block between it and the affected floor.  We are doing this to prevent stains onto the floor.

Hardwood Floor Cupping

This is an indication that the moisture content on the bottom of the wood is higher than the top of the wood.  The wood literally looks like it has formed the shape of a cup. If our technicians see this, they will prioritize extracting water from this area to help save the flooring.


If there is a smell left after all unsalvageable items have been removed, then our technicians will use various techniques to deodorize your property.  They may use a fogging technique or temporarily install an air scrubber with HEPA filtration.


This is a crucial, day-to-day step that we must do to monitor your home or commercial property.  Our technicians will visit your property every day to monitor the drying levels of affected areas and remove, add, or change equipment.


If any part of your property’s structure (anything that is attached to the building itself) is permanently damaged, our technicians will remove it.  After the area is dry, our reconstruction team will work with you and your insurance company to rebuild it.

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