Water Damage vs Flood Damage: What You Need to Know

Flood damage is just another kind of water damage, right?

When it comes to water damage vs flood damage, flood damage poses higher health risks, can require additional insurance coverage, and can cost more to repair.

But what exactly constitutes flood damage, what constitutes water damage, and why does it matter? Let’s start with the causes.

Causes of Water Damage

Water damage is a broad category with multiple causes. Your home can incur water damage from a leaky water heater, a burst sewer line, an overflowing toilet, or dozens of other sources inside your home.

Causes of Flood Damage

According to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), flood damage is caused by:

  • overflow of inland or tidal waters
  • unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
  • mudflow
  • collapse or subsidence of land along the shores of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood

A flood is defined as a temporary situation where two or more acres of dry land, or two or more units of property, are covered in water from one of the above water sources.

Distinguishing Flood Damage from Water Damage

One easy way to distinguish water damage from flood damage is by answering this simple question: is your home the only one having any issues?

If the answer is yes, then you’re likely dealing with water damage.

If the answer is no, and more than one home is having the same issue, then it is likely a result of flood damage.

Insurance Coverage for Water Damage vs Flood Damage

Water damage is typically covered by homeowner’s insurance. When dealing with water damage, you should contact your local full service restoration company to discuss your homeowners insurance policy with your carrier, determine coverage and payout, and develop a restoration plan.

Flood insurance, on the other hand, is not covered by your typical homeowner’s insurance policy.  You must invest in a separate NFIP approved flood insurance policy – and before any damages have taken place.

Health and Safety Aspects of Water Damage vs Flood Damage

There are three types of water damage: category 1, 2, and 3.

Category 1, or “clean water”, comes from supply lines, faucets, and other sources that typically aren’t contaminated. It can typically be cleaned with extraction, drying, and dehumidification.

Category 2, or “grey water”, comes from dishwasher leakage, sump pump failures, and other sources that can include some contamination. It typically requires a degree of sanitation and decontamination.

Category 3, or “black water” comes from sewage, standing water, and other sources that can be significantly contaminated by pathogenic and toxic material. It requires an extreme degree of sterilization before people can safely re-enter the structure without safety gear.

Flood water is always category 3.

Of course, that isn’t the only health risk posed by flooding. Floods can damage homes, landscaping, vehicles, and endanger your loved ones in ways that regular water damage simply can’t.