When a commercial property floods, owners are alarmed, upset, keen to act and full of urgent questions. How much water? What areas are affected? Will this harm my business? How can we remove it fast? Few pause to wonder what “colour” the floodwaters are. Colour? What does that matter?

“What colour” is an important question that Paul Davis assesses quickly when arriving at an inundated commercial property. “Our teams categorize floodwaters immediately because the answer dictates the types of mitigation and restoration needed,” says John Simms, Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Bowling Green, Kentucky. “Water from a burst water supply line – clean and drinkable prior to escaping the pipe – is handled differently than water from a river that has topped its banks, which has picked up contaminants on its way into the property.“ 

The restoration industry uses colour as a quick shorthand to categorize types of floodwater based on the flood source. Treatment approaches vary significantly among the three types:

Black: the most dangerous type of floodwater, black water carries pathogens, chemicals, heavy metals, oils, debris and high levels of contamination. This category occurs when sewers or sewage pipes overflow, for example. Floodwaters from storm events are always classified in this category due to agricultural chemicals, fertilizers, animal dung, septic system fluids and the like that are carried into the property from outside manmade or natural sources.

Paul Davis technicians use full body personal protective equipment, often including respirators or masks, to treat this category, apply disinfectant and replace most affected materials. Soaked materials are handled carefully during disposal to avoid spreading contamination. Further, teams may control access to the project, perform periodic inspections and run tests to ensure contamination is contained during mitigation and restoration activities.

Grey:  Floodwaters of this type contain low levels of bacteria, mold or chemicals. They may emanate from the sink that overflowed, the washing machine that blew a gasket or the dishwasher that sprung a leak. Paul Davis technicians use light personal protective equipment to mitigate and restore premises damaged by gray water.

Clean: This is water from a source that is not harmful to people such as a broken water supply line, an overflowing sink or an overfilled water storage tank. Paul Davis technicians do not need special protective equipment to remove standing water, deploy drying machinery and replace materials that have been structurally ruined by moisture. No special precautions are needed for debris disposal.

“One important note about the ‘colour’ of a flood,” adds Simms. “It can be difficult to tell the difference between clean, grey and black water. Black water may even appear clean. Often, testing is required to categorize the floodwaters. Calling a restoration professional is the best way to safely handle any type of flooding on a commercial property.”

Call Paul Davis today to discuss completing a free Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP). EPPs enable Paul Davis to respond, mitigate and restore your commercial property faster should flooding occur.