Water Damage Glossary, Common Terms, Definitions.

If your home or business has suffered a water damage, you will be exposed to some terms that may be new to you. This page may help you understand what your water damage contractor and/or insurance adjuster is talking about.

Common Terms in the Water Damage Industry and their Meanings.

AIR MOVER AKA: Turbo Air Mover, Fans, Dryers. A specialized type of fan that promotes evaporation of moisture by design. Air movers incorporate an electric motor, fan and specially designed shape and housing to promote rapid drying of carpets, pad, sub flooring, walls and framing members. They are also used for drying under cabinets and other hard to reach areas.

BASEBOARDS: Wooden, Multi-Desnsity Fiberboard, Tile, Stone or Plastic board, normally one inch to twelve inches (75–300 mm) high, covering the lowest part of an interior wall. Its purpose is to cover the joint between the wall surface (usually plaster or drywall) and the floor. It covers the inevitable uneven edge as flooring meets the wall. As a secondary function, it protects the wall from kicks and abrasion and sometimes prevents furniture from being pushed right against the wall.

BOROSCOPE: A hand-held tool that allows the user to see potential mold problems inside walls, ceilings, crawl spaces, and other tight spaces. It consists of a camera on the end of a flexible “snake”. No major drilling or cutting of dry wall is required.

CATEGORY 1 WATER: Water originating from a source that does not pose substantial harm to humans. (Also referred to as “CLEAN WATER”)

CATEGORY 2 WATER: Water containing a significant degree of chemical, biological and/or physical contamination and having the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans. (Also referred to as “GRAY WATER”)

CATEGORY 3 WATER: Grossly unsanitary water, containing pathogenic agents arising from sewage or other contaminated water sources and having the likelihood of causing discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans. This category includes all forms of seawater, ground surface water, and rising water from rivers or streams. (Also referred to as “BLACK WATER”)

The four IICRC water damage classifications are as follows:

Class 1: Slow Evaporation Rate: Water losses that affect only part of a room or area, or losses with lower permeance/porosity materials (e.g., plywood, particle board, structural wood, VCT, concrete). Little or no wet carpet or cushion is present. Minimum moisture is absorbed by materials, releasing moisture slowly.

Class 2: Fast Evaporation Rate: Water losses that affect an entire room or carpet and cushion. Water has wicked up walls 12" - 24”. There is moisture remaining in structural materials (e.g., plywood, particleboard, structural wood, concrete).

Class 3: Fastest Evaporation Rate: Water may have come from overhead. Ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet, cushion and sub-floor in the entire area are saturated.

Class 4: Specialty Drying Situations: These consist of wet materials with very low permeance/porosity (hardwood, plaster, brick, concrete, stone, crawlspace). Typically, there are deep pockets of saturation, which requires very low specific humidity.

DEHUMIDIFIER: A mechanical device that promotes the reduction of moisture in the air. These devices when used properly with air movers, greatly reduce the amount time taken to dry structural building materials, thereby greatly reducing the risk of unwanted microbial growth.

DELAMINATION: The separation of the primary backing from the secondary backing of tufted carpeting.

Drywall, Sheetrock, Gypsum Board: is the term used for a common method of constructing interior walls and ceilings using panels made of gypsum plaster pressed between two thick sheets of paper, then kiln dried. Many such panels are made with fiberglass instead of paper to prevent mold growth, which is common with paper that has been exposed to water due to plumbing leaks or floods. Drywall construction is used globally for the finish construction of interior walls and ceilings.

Evaporation: Changing moisture from a liquid to a vapor.

MOISTURE METER: A tool that measures the moisture level in building materials. It can also be used to measure the progress of the drying of damaged materials. Moisture meters have a small probe that is inserted into the material, or pressed directly against the material's surface. Moisture meters can be used on carpet, wallboard, woods, brick, and other masonry.

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): Includes respirators, gloves, impervious suit, and eye protection. These items can be used during the assessment and remediation processes.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY: The ratio of the amount of water vapor in the air at a specific temperature to the maximum amount that the air could hold at that.

SUBFLOOR: A rough floor, usually constructed of plywwood, oriented strand board, 2 x 6 boards or cement over which a finished flooring material, such as: carpet, laminate, engineered wood flooring, hardwood floor or other finished flooring product is installed.

THERMAL HYGROMETER: Measures the amount of humidity in the indoor environment. Often gauges are paired with a thermometer to measure the temperature.

UNDERLAYMENT: A material placed under finished floor coverings. Underlayment is usually constructed of smooth particle board providing an even surface for finished flooring such as linoleum, sheet vinyl, and vinyl

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