24 AUG 2023
8 min read

Water Damage Remediation: When to Seek Expert Help for Your Safety

Water damage, whether it's from a minor leak or a major flood, can wreak havoc on your home.
Jeff Carron
Founder, Element Midwest
Header image

While some cases may seem manageable, it's crucial to understand when water damage becomes dangerous and requires the expertise of a certified restoration professional. In this article, we will refer to the guidelines provided by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) to help you determine when it's time to call an expert to ensure your safety and minimize long-term damage.

1. Extent of Damage

The first and most critical factor in deciding whether to seek professional help is the extent of the damage. The IICRC recommends calling an expert when:

  • The affected area is more than 10 square feet: If water damage covers an area larger than 10 square feet, it's considered substantial and potentially hazardous.
  • Water has penetrated multiple rooms or levels of your home: Extensive water infiltration throughout your home can cause severe structural issues and health risks.

2. Water Source and Contamination

Understanding the source of the water and its contamination level is vital in determining the danger. The IICRC classifies water damage into three categories:

  • Category 1: Clean water, such as a burst pipe. While generally less dangerous, it can still lead to mold growth if not remediated promptly.
  • Category 2: Gray water, which may contain contaminants like detergents or urine. This type of water damage poses moderate health risks and requires professional attention.
  • Category 3: Black water, highly contaminated with bacteria, fungi, and sewage. This is the most dangerous and necessitates immediate professional remediation due to the severe health hazards it presents.

3. Duration of Exposure

Time is of the essence when it comes to water damage. The longer water is left unaddressed, the greater the risk becomes. The IICRC advises that you should seek professional help if:

  • Water has been present for more than 24 to 48 hours: Beyond this window, mold growth and structural damage become significant concerns.

4. Mold Growth

Mold can start growing quickly in damp conditions, and it can have serious health implications. If you notice any of the following signs, it's time to call an expert:

  • Visible mold growth: If you see mold on surfaces, it indicates a moisture problem that needs immediate attention.
  • Musty odor: A persistent, unpleasant odor in your home could be a sign of hidden mold growth.

5. Structural Integrity

Water damage can compromise the structural integrity of your home. If you observe any of the following issues, it's a clear indication that professional intervention is necessary:

  • Sagging ceilings or floors
  • Cracked walls
  • Signs of dry rot or deterioration in wooden structures

6. Electrical Hazards

Water and electricity don't mix. If water has infiltrated electrical outlets, wires, or appliances, it poses a significant risk of electrical shock or fire. In such cases, professional remediation is imperative.


Water damage can escalate from a minor inconvenience to a major health and safety hazard if left unchecked. Following the IICRC's guidelines, you can better understand when it's time to call in an expert. Remember, prompt action is crucial in mitigating damage and ensuring your safety. When in doubt, it's always safer to consult with a certified restoration professional who can assess the situation and provide the necessary expertise to protect your home and well-being.

Share this post