The ‘Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces’ of Water Damage!

Water Damage Restoration Puzzle ImageHave you ever spent days ‘slaving’ over a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle? I bet you felt major triumph when you completed it, didn’t you?

  • You probably ‘shooed’ away anyone who got ‘too close’ to your prized masterpiece, in fear that they might inadvertently ‘mess it up’!
  • You may even have thought about framing your completed work a time or two, but ultimately decided to ‘just let it be’…..


  • Rover came bounding in ‘from nowhere’ one unsuspecting day, leaving ‘all but a few’ of the 5000 jigsaw puzzle pieces intact!

Now, as much as you loved Rover, you were devastated! And rightfully so! After all, the numerous jigsaw puzzle pieces that now lay dormant on the floor were the only evidence you had, that your once exquisite masterpiece had ever existed! As you helplessly stared at the countless pieces on the floor, you couldn’t help but wonder:

  • How in the world were you going to efficiently reinstate all of the misplaced pieces back to their pre-destruction state?
  • How long it was going to take to complete the restoration?
  • What you could do differently to prevent another inadvertent disarray from EVER happening again!

This, dear friend is the epitome of water damage!

One moment you are admiring and proudly showing off your ‘ideal property’, and the next moment, you are staring at pure commotion, wondering what went wrong and where!

The Intricacies of Water Damage

In a previous article, we mentioned that the process of flood and water damage restoration is actually more intricate than it initially appears. We also mentioned that it is well beyond the scope of many home and property owners, therefore does not qualify as a DIY (Do-it-Yourself) technique! There are several critical intricacies or jigsaw puzzle pieces, if you will, that water damage restoration professionals need to examine, evaluate and analyze thus allowing them to make appropriate ‘judgement calls’ about the most suitable restoration technique for the specific task at hand.

  • Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #1: Category of Water Damage

According to the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification), there are 3 ‘types’ of water that may be responsible for damaging a property. Water damage has therefore been categorized based on the source of water that caused the damage. In order for an effective restoration plan to be established, it is imperative that the relative category of water damage is correctly identified.

    • Category I Water Damage

Category I water damage is caused by ‘clean water’.

Clean water is typically uncontaminated at the releasing source and does not pose a health hazard if humans or pets are exposed to it. Potential sources include burst pipes and water supply lines, leaky faucets, faulty supply lines on appliances and vertically falling rainwater. It is important to note however, that Category I damage can rapidly degrade into Category II damage.

    • Category II Water Damage

Category II water damage is caused by ‘grey water’.

‘Grey water’ typically represents waste water from daily household activities. Although it may appear dirty, it does not contain any fecal matter. Regardless, it has the potential to cause illness or discomfort if consumed by humans or pets. Potential sources of ‘grey water’ include overflows from dishwashers and washing machines as well as flush from sinks, showers and tub drains.

    • Category III Water Damage

Category III water damage is caused by ‘black water’.

‘Black water’ is highly contaminated and can be fatal if consumed by humans and/or pets. It typically contains fecal matter, urine and potentially pathogenic microbes. Potential sources of ‘black water’ include toilet overflow containing feces, stagnant water that has begun to support bacterial growth, sewer backup and rising flood water from rivers, streams and ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes.

  • Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #2: Class of Water Damage

According to the IICRC, there are 4 ‘classes’ of water damage which signify the type of materials that are affected in the space that is flooded, as well as the probable rate of evaporation. In order to implement an effective restoration plan, it is important that the class of water damage is correctly identified prior to commencing any restoration efforts.

    • Class 1:
      • Only part of an area is affected;
      • Little or no wet carpet;
      • Minor water extraction required.
    • Class 2:
      • Entire area affected;
      • Wet carpet and cushions;
      • Presence of less than 2 feet of wetness that has wicked up the walls.
    • Class 3:
      • Liquid source may have come from above;
      • Ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet and subfloors saturated;
      • Walls may be saturated greater than 2 feet from the ground;
      • Heavy extraction required.
    • Class 4:
      • Typically referred to as specialty drying situations implying that there has been enough liquid and time to saturate materials like hardwood, brick or stone, which have very low permeance.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #3: Extent of damage

Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #3 (Extent of Water Damage) is derived from the joint information obtained from Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #1 (Category of Water Damage) and Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #2 (Class of Water Damage). In addition, Jigsaw Puzzle Piece# 3 validates any evidence of secondary water damage, which has the potential to introduce mold and all of its detrimental accoutrements.

  • Image #1: The Big Picture

Image #1 is deduced from the information obtained from the proper combination, evaluation and analysis of Jigsaw Puzzle Piece’s #1, #2 and #3.

‘Mathematically’ speaking…..

Category of Water Damage (Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #1)


Class of Water Damage (Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #2)


Extent of Water Damage (Jigsaw Puzzle Piece #3)


The Big Picture (Image #1)

Water Damage Puzzle


In English this means…….

  • What are we really dealing with here?
  • What is the most efficient and effective plan to ‘fix it’?

Generic Restoration Plan

At bare minimum, any water damage restoration plan should entail:

  • Identification of the water source
  • Arrest of the flow of water from its source
  • And based off of the information derived from the combination of Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces #1, #2 & #3:
    • An ideal water extraction method;
    • An ideal drying and dehumidification method;
    • An ideal cleaning and disinfecting method;
    • And if there is any evidence of secondary water damage, relevant mold remediation and removal techniques will have to be employed.

The Bottom Line

Without the proper expertise and equipment to detect and efficiently restore water damage, it is extremely likely that any damage to your home or property will be exacerbated. Should you ever be faced with the unfortunate experience of water damage to your home or property, it would be advisable to promptly arrange for a water damage restoration professional as soon as possible after the fact.