Some building service contractors have found that carpet restoration and remediation work in response to water damage is a good fit for their business plan. For those who invest in the right education, tools and training, it can be a profitable service.

Restoration work starts with the ability to restore a facility without tearing it apart, says Jeff Scibetta, president of Jay Dee Cleaning & Restoration in Lakewood, Colo.

"If you don't have the ability to understand where the water source is and do it in a state-of-the-art fashion with the electronic reading devices that are out there," you will not be able to do a good job, Scibetta says.

The first thing a BSC should do, says Bill Yeadon, IICRC Carpet Cleaning Technical Advisory Committee chairman and training director for Roselle, Ill.-based Jon-Don, is buy a copy of the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration (ANSI/IICRC S500-2006).

"Anything that we do within this field should fall under the IICRC water damage standards," says Yeadon.

In order for a BSC to be considered IICRC-certified, it must have formally trained technicians on cleaning and restoration jobs, provide continuing education and certification for technicians, have liability insurance and present accurate information to consumers.


Once a call comes in, the first thing a contractor does is ask questions to diagnose the problem, says Craig Kersemeier, president of K-Tech Kleening Systems Inc. in Schofield, Wis. BSCs need to know the basics: the location of the water source, the reason for the excess water, and whether other professionals, such as plumbers, electricians or the gas company, have been contacted.

A contractor must also know about safety conditions in the building, so that occupants and employees are not harmed prior to, or during, restoration work.

Determining categories of loss is the most important thing a BSC can do when taking a job. There were some key changes and additions included in the latest and third version of the IICRC standard, released in 2006.

"Part of what they changed is, Ôgray water' doesn't necessarily mean that the color of the water determines the loss, and that's where we were getting confused," Yeadon says. "Today, they still call sewage loss Ôblack water,' but the water doesn't necessarily have to be black."

Category 1 (formerly "clear" water) pertains to water that originates from a sanitary source, such as a pipe break or a sink overflow. A contractor would follow basic restoration procedures, which include extraction, dehumidifying and drying, after which meter testing should prove the process worked.

Damage that starts as category 1 can deteriorate to category 2 or 3 for reasons that include contact with building materials, systems and content, facility age and history and type of facility, elapsed time and elevated temperature.

Category 2 (formerly "gray" water) applies to water that has the potential to cause sickness if contacted or consumed — either through the skin or if it has evaporated and gone airborne. For example, overflows from dishwashers or washing machines, or water that has been sitting for days, could be category 2 contaminants.

"People that have susceptibility or allergy to bacteria could easily have a problem with that," Yeadon says.

A vast majority of water damage is going to fall into categories 1 and 2 — category 3 damage is the most severe and often the most traumatic for building owners. Category 3 (formerly "black" water) is considered grossly contaminated, as it may contain pathogenic, toxic or other harmful agents. This includes sewage, toilet backflows that originate from beyond the toilet trap, seawater flooding, and ground surface water and water rising from rivers and streams.

Whereas category 3 damage is impossible to reverse and requires replacement of carpeting and other affected areas, category 2 cases can typically be dealt with by extraction, cleaning, and drying surfaces and carpets.

The second part of water damage, beside categories, are classes, Kersemeier says.

"That helps you determine your drying plan," Kersemeier says. "It's used to determine the degree of saturation and the anticipated rate of evaporation or drying."

Classes of water loss are determined by the level of saturation, and are used to determine dehumidification and drying equipment needed. There are four classes: class 1 being the least amount of water, absorption and evaporation, affecting part of a room or area; class 2 being a large amount of water, absorption and evaporation, or those that affect at least an entire room; class 3 referring to areas that are entirely saturated, and water may have come from overhead, affecting ceilings, walls, carpet, cushion and subfloor; and class 4 refers to specialty drying situations, with wet materials with very low permeance/porosity, such as hardwood, plaster and concrete, requiring longer drying times and special methods.

Water loss pertains to much more than just carpets, Kersemeier says. While carpets most easily take in water, they also most easily release water.

"The carpet can be dry in one day, but the walls could take three days. What the focus should be on is the walls," he says. "If water is in the carpet, it will start soaking up into the drywall at about an inch per hour."

Mold becomes a huge structural concern once the walls are involved, he adds. Other factors that determine loss are time, temperature and humidity. Damage is minimized by immediate action, which is why restoration is a 24-7, emergency services-type job.


After a problem is diagnosed, a BSC must use the proper tools to execute the job. Even though the tools needed are constantly evolving because of the level of sophistication the industry has reached, BSCs have to stay on top of the newest meters and equipment.

Those in the cleaning industry are also backed up by science and technology more than ever before. They are able to measure damage, monitor cleanup and prove results.

"Before, [restoration and remediation] was procedurally based," Kersemeier says. "There was no science to back it up."

Extraction techniques will vary depending on the type of carpeting and how it was installed. Many modern commercial buildings have carpet tiles glued onto a tile floor, and do not use a cushion for padding underneath the carpeting. Cushions can compound extraction work and often need to be replaced after water damage has occurred. Subsurface extractors compress the pad, which holds a great deal of water, to extract.

"If I can get more water out of there with the initial extraction, I could probably cut a day off drying time," Yeadon says. "So the extraction is really important, and spending the extra time on the extraction really pays big dividends in the length of the drying time."

Drying tools, or fans called air-movers and dehumidifiers, are available in several different product categories. These machines, along with proper extraction and temperature control, are key to restoring carpets.

The most common dehumidifiers are low-grain refrigerants types, Yeadon says, as they are energy efficient and work very well. In older buildings, desiccant dehumidifiers are recommended, with a special material that attracts and holds moisture.

A Different Beast

While there is money to be made attending to accidents and disasters — which won't go away and aren't generally affected by the economy — "it's a different beast" for a BSC to take on, Kersemeier says.

"This isn't a side job. It's becoming much more technical," he says. "It isn't something you just add on because you're going to have to make a commitment to training and equipment — lots of equipment. And unfortunately, sometimes the equipment sits there and doesn't get used. But we have a 53-foot semi-trailer ready for when we get the call."