Stopping the source
Identify the Source
Water damage can come from three general sources:
- Category I is clean, potable (drinkable) water. This is water comes from an overflowing sink, bathtub, broken water supply line or a fixture shut-off valve. This is the preferred source should water damage occur, since it poses minimal risk of contamination or respiratory danger.
- Category II water is sometimes called "gray" water. It is not drinkable, but also not full of sewage. Category II water can include dishwasher run-off or washing-machine run-off. These sources contain soap and/or food contaminants but not raw sewage.
- Category III water, sometimes called "black" water, is highly contaminated. It contains bacteria or chemicals harmful to touch, consume or inhale. Category III water must be removed by a professional with proper immunizations and personal protective equipment. Category III water can include any type of sewer back-up, water that has run across open ground before entering the structure, or anything related to a chemical spill.
Stop the Source
If the water is Category I or II, your next step is stopping the source. (If Category III, wait for a professional.) Be sure you know where your main shut-off valve is for your home's water supply and test it yearly to ensure proper function. If your leak is coming from an appliance or fixture with a shut-off valve, turn this valve off instead of the water to the entire building.
If a large amount of sewage is coming out of a drain line continuously there is a blockage in the sewer line or the municipal sewer system is malfunctioning in your entire neighborhood. Immediately call your city's wastewater department and report the issue. They need to respond immediately to prevent the flow of sewage.