Water Damage Information for Property Owners and Managers

water leaking through city apartment window on wooden floor

Natural disasters, broken systems and poor maintenance can easily lead to disastrous situations, leaving a water-damaged building, materials and personal belongings. 

In most cases, requesting a professional water mitigation service is the best way to handle water damage. However, there are several things you can do to reduce these events and ensure everyone in your building remains as safe as possible. In this guide, you’ll discover all the water damage information for property owners and managers you need. 

Understanding Water Damage Categories and Classes

There are multiple types of water damage categories and classes. Understanding these differences will help you distinguish when you need to call a professional and when you can handle water situations on your own. Often, requesting service will provide the most benefit, but understanding these water damage categories and classes will allow you to recognize the next steps to take. 

Water Damage Categories

There are three categories of water damage, with Category 1 being the safest to deal with and Category 3 being the most hazardous. 

  • Category 1 water originates from non-harmful sources like melting ice, sink overflows and rainwater. This water is generally safe to handle and will not harm you if you make contact. You can often clean or restore water-damaged items from this category.
  • Category 2 water, or gray water, will have some contaminants. For instance, dishwasher discharge, toilet overflows with urine and sprinkler water cause Category 2 water damage. 
  • Category 3 water damage, or black water, contains pathogens that can harm humans. Sewage, stream water and similar water sources can impede your health through inhalation, consumption or physical contact. 

Water Damage Classes

There are four water classes describing the water’s evaporation rate. These classes represent the severity of the water damage to a material, object or space. 

  • Class 1 water damage has a slow evaporation rate. This means the water affects items and areas that are not very porous. This water class could affect plywood, particle board, concrete, composition tile and structural wood. 
  • Class 2 water has a quick evaporation rate, and water loss affects an entire room. Carpets and cushions experience damage, and moisture can remain in structural materials.
  • Class 3 water typically comes from an overhead source such as a sprinkler system. Class water damage affects ceilings, walls, subfloor materials, cushions, carpets and almost anything in the space. This could lead to a total loss of space and materials.
  • Class 4 water describes situations when you need specialty materials to dry affected items. Materials like brick, stone, plaster, hardwood and subfloors require these specialty drying situations.

Water Damage Causes

Water damage can result from a variety of situations. Although many may think water damage results from a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, monsoon or flood, many places in your building can cause these situations. 

For example, water damage can occur if you have leaking pipes or clogged gutters. Leaks can quickly allow water to pool where it shouldn’t be, and clogged gutters can prevent water from flowing properly, leading to ceiling, wall and floor damage. You may also encounter water damage while away from your building if you don’t take precautions. 

Additional sources that can cause water damage include:

  • Blocked drains
  • Air conditioner condensation
  • Supply line leaks
  • Water heater leaks
  • Sprinkler system malfunctions
  • Dishwasher discharge
  • Broken pipes 
  • Sewage backups
  • Septic tank overflows
  • Poor weather conditions
what can you do to prevent commercial flooding with a split pipe

What You Can Do to Prevent Commercial Flooding

Prevention is the best method of avoiding water damage, and there are many actions you can take to secure your property. Taking these precautions and informing your tenants of your regulations and expectations can ensure everyone does their part to prevent these situations. Consider these prevention methods:

  • Train the maintenance teams: Your team should have quality training to understand how to minimize damage and ensure everyone’s safety. All team members should know where the water valves are and how to turn them off. Additionally, each person should know the difference between each water class and category and recognize the potential hazard of attempting to clean up on their own.
  • Reduce the building water demand: High-efficiency fixtures and appliances can limit the stress your water system experiences. Switching to more friendly appliances can reduce the water flow through the building, minimizing the likelihood of flooding, pooling, spilling and leaking. 
  • Have conversations with your tenants: Your tenants likely want to avoid water damage as much as you do. Discuss your expectations and regulations with them to ensure they can do their part to protect your property’s integrity. Be sure to have a responsive maintenance team to address issues as soon as your tenants report them. 
  • Request regular services: Preventive maintenance is often the best action to avoid damage. Weekly plumbing inspections can allow you to identify minor problems before they cause significant issues. If your team notices any concerns, immediately request a professional service to resolve them.
  • Implement new strategies: Flood-proofing your building helps prevent damage from natural occurrences. Dry flood-proofing methods prevent water from entering your building by utilizing a waterproof coating on the floors and walls. Wet flood-proofing strategies include allowing water to exit interior spaces. For example, installing floor drains in storage areas and parking lots help the water move to the right place rather than pool into the building. 

What to Do When You Encounter Water Damage

Despite your best attempts, water damage can be unpredictable, and you may encounter it. When this happens, it’s critical to know how to keep yourself, your tenants and the building as safe as possible. Here are the steps to take if your building encounters this situation:

  • Know the location of your water valve and how to shut it off during an emergency.
  • Switch off circuit breakers supplying energy or electricity to wet spaces. 
  • Keep all electrical appliances turned off while water is present.
  • Wear eye protection, gloves and boots if you need to handle water damage. 
  • Avoid contaminated water and remove unaffected items if possible. 
  • Remove items like cushions and check them for color bleeding before propping them up to dry.
  • Monitor where you walk to locate tripping hazards and slip spots, especially when walking from carpet to hardwood or vinyl flooring. 
  • Open any affected drawers or doors, but do not force swollen doors open. 
  • Remove as much standing water as possible if you’re dealing with Category 1 water. 
  • Immediately request a professional service if you encounter Category 2 or 3 water. 
request water remediation services from Alliance Environmental

Request Water Remediation Services From Alliance Environmental

Water damage can impede a building’s integrity, and cleaning your space can be challenging. At Alliance Environmental, you can access a professional and certified team to help you through the process with exceptional care. With over 25 years of experience in the industry, we’ve become experts in water damage. Contact us for a quote for water mitigation services to see what we can do for your business. 

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