Cars and debris floating down Main Street
Water Damage Restoration Standards
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has written the industry standards for water damage restoration contractors. The IICRC Standard S500 was originally created in 1994 and has been revised several times over the years by leading experts. The latest version is the Fifth Edition ANSI/IICRC S500-2021.
IICRC defines this flood water as Category 3 Water (CAT3 Water). Category 3 water is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents, and can cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed. Examples of Category 3 water can include but are not limited to sewage, wasteline backflows, all forms of flooding from seawater, rising water from rivers and streams, and water-driven from hurricanes and tropical storms.
Category 3 water can carry trace levels of regulated or hazardous materials such as pesticides or toxic organic substances. It can also contain oil, gasoline, chemicals, medical waste, and physical objects such as sharp debris that can cause harm.
Flood waters and damage
Remediation Procedures for Category 3 Flood Water
The critical point to remember about IICRC Category 2 and Category 3 water is that it is by definition contaminated and therefore hazardous. This means the first point to consider during a clean-up and restoration is safety. Workers should be trained and familiar with the IICRC standards. Safety is a priority to protect site workers and occupants. Site workers should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to minimize exposure or contact with contaminated water. This PPE may include boots, full suits, gloves, goggles, respirators, or other face masks.
Once the safety of site workers has been secured through prior training and on-site protective equipment the restoration process can begin. Restorers begin with an inspection of the structure for the presence and location of contaminants as a part of their site safety survey. Restorers take appropriate steps to disclose known or suspected contaminants to other materially interested parties and recommend appropriate precautions. If a pre-restoration or pre-remediation assessment is needed, then an independent specialized expert such as an Industrial Hygienist (IH) or Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) should be used to conduct pre-remediation and post-remediation verification as needed.
Remediation should occur prior to restorative drying. First, extraction of water (bulk water removal) should be performed then the removal of debris and disposal of damaged contents. All porous and semi-porous materials should be discarded unless there is some value to them but under either circumstance should be considered contaminated. Hard items or non-porous items may be contaminated but may be considered for restoration / considered as potentially salvageable. Remove/bag/dispose of all wet porous and semi-porous materials such as sheet rock, insulation, paneling, carpet and padding, and certain flooring materials especially if there are layers of flooring.
During the remediation phase, there should be a consideration for containment and controlling cross-contamination, while performing the remediation you can use dehumidifiers for humidity control to stabilize the wet environment. Next, perform a pre-cleaning before initiating the structural drying process using an antimicrobial detergent. Once complete, the structural drying process can begin by setting up equipment to dry the structure and monitor the progress. Successful drying should be verified using moisture meters. Once the structure has reached this point, we recommend a final re-cleaning using a HEPA vacuum and antimicrobial detergent.
This is an Outline of Procedures according to IICRC S500, Sections 12.3 – 12 .6:
- Restorer, Occupant Protection – PPE
- Engineering Controls – containment and use of AFDs
- Bulk Material Removal & Water Extraction
- Pre-Remediation Evaluation and Assessment
- Humidity Control in Contaminated Structures – Stabilization
- Controlled Demolition and Removal of Unrestorable Components
- Cleaning and Decontaminating Restorable Components
- Antimicrobial Application
- Post Remediation Evaluation & Verification
- Final Cleaning
- Content Move Back
Mold Potential After Floods
Mold is commonly encountered during flood water clean-up and restoration. Sometimes the mold may be preexisting and discovered during the removal of damaged structures such as walls. The environment post-flood is also perfect for mold growth – the longer things are wet, the more mold you will have. The remediation procedures should not vary regardless of whether contaminants are a result of the water intrusion or pre-existing damage. These remediation efforts should begin immediately, the longer the time mold has to grow the more opportunity it has to spread to other, perhaps unaffected, parts of the structure causing further damage.
Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc. (IRS) is a premier provider of disaster recovery mitigation, environmental remediation, biohazard emergency response and HVAC inspection and cleaning in the New Jersey-Philadelphia area. IRS is certified by NADCA and have Certified Air Systems Cleaning Technicians and a Certified Ventilation System Inspector on staff. Services include mold removal, water damage restoration, fire damage restoration, flood damage cleanup, smoke damage remediation, and biohazard remediation. Insurance Restoration Specialists is led by Certified Industrial Hygienist Thomas Peter.