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Water Damage

Water damage describes a large number of possible losses caused by water intruding where it will enable attack of a material or system by destructive processes such as rotting of wood, growth, rusting of steel, delaminating of materials such as plywood, and many others.

The water damage may be imperceptibly slow and minor such as water spots that could eventually mar a surface, or it may be instantaneous and catastrophic such as flooding. However fast it occurs, water damage is a major contributor to loss of property.

An insurance policy may or may not cover the costs associated with water damage and the process of water damage restoration. While a common cause of residential water damage is often the failure of a sump pump, many homeowner's insurance policies do not cover the associated costs without an addendum which adds to the monthly premium of the policy. Often the verbiage of this addendum is similar to "Sewer and Drain Coverage".

Those affected by wide-scale flooding, that leads to water damage, may have the ability to apply for government and FEMA grants through the Individual Assistance program. On a larger level, businesses, cities, and communities can apply to the FEMA Public Assistance program for funds to assist after a large flood. The program allows the city to purchase the water damaged properties, demolish structures and turn properties into public green space.

Category 1 Water

Refers to a source of water that does not pose substantial threat to humans and classified as "clean water". Examples are broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows or appliance malfunctions that involves water supply lines.

Category 2 Water

Refers to a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological or physical contaminants and causes discomfort or sickness when consumed or even exposed to. Known as "grey water". This type carries microorganisms and nutrients of micro-organisms. Examples are toilet bowls with urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic failure and water discharge from dishwashers or washing machines.

Category 3 Water

Known as "black water" and is grossly unsanitary. This water contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness. Type 3 category are contaminated water sources that affect the indoor environment. This category includes water sources from sewage, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water. Category 2 Water or Grey Water that is not promptly removed from the structure and or have remained stagnant may be re classified as Category 3 Water. Toilet back flows that originates from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination regardless of visible content or color.

Smoke Damage

Fire is dangerous, and smoke damage is not friendly at all. Did you know that the flames themselves might not be the greatest risk as far as health dangers and property damage? Fire smoke is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a 3/1 ratio, and while direct exposure to smoke is harmful to your respiratory system, it can also negatively affect your property’s structure.

Smoke damage from any type of fire is comprised of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and soot. Many other harmful chemicals also enter the air are inhaled or latch onto walls, furniture, clothing, duct-work and other areas.

When it comes to your property, knowing how temperature, the surrounding environment, particle ionization, and airflow patterns affect smoke distribution can help you better restore your property.


Because hot air rises, smoke damage is most commonly found in the following places:

  • Directly above where the fire blazed: Assuming no strong air currents are flowing through the building, the highest concentration of smoke residue is usually found on the ceiling above the fire.
  • Outside walls and windows: Cold air sinks, opening up a path for the smoke to travel to exterior windows and walls. Even if the fire is concentrated in the center of the room, it’s common to find lots of smoke residue on outside walls.
Particle Ionization

Smoke particles are often ionized, meaning they possess an electrical charge that attracts them to certain surfaces. That’s why you often find smoke damage:

  • Surrounding nail heads in the ceiling
  • Clustered in cobweb-like shapes in corners of the room
  • On synthetic materials
Air Flow Pattern

Air currents carry smoke and soot away from the fire and deposit residue in interesting ways. For example, smoke damage is often seen:

  • In duct-work
  • On the far side of door openings

Fire Damage

Fire damage refers to the physical damage to a property as a result of burning. Fire damage may either be directly caused by the flames or could occur due to smoke and other corrosive substances emitted by the fire.

In terms of insurance, fire damage is one of the types of coverage offered in property insurance.

The six types of fire damage are as follows:

  • Class A: fire that involves flammable solids, such as paper, cloth, wood, and plastics.
  • Class B: fire that involves flammable liquids or solids that can turn into liquids.
  • Class C: fire that involves flammable gasses, such as propane, hydrogen, natural gas, and butane.
  • Class D: fire that involves combustible metals, including sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Class E: fire that involves factors in Class A and B as well as electrical elements.
  • Class F: relatively hotter and more destructive fire that involves cooking oils and fats.

Furthermore, many insurance companies divide fire damage into two categories: Primary and secondary. The former refers to damage caused by the flames, while the latter refers to damage caused by smoke or other substances from the fire.