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Defining Terms in Water and Fire Restoration


Restoration terms may be unfamiliar to many home and business owners. Restoration is an occasional process you will utilize if damage ever occurs to your property. However, the terms and their predecessor categories can be difficult to learn.

Knowing the process being performed on your property is important so you can record documentation of previous damage. But how can you understand the process without a fine understanding of the terms involved? At United Water Restoration Group our restoration experts have put together some easy-to-follow terminology for you to understand.

Air Mover

These tools are essential in the water damage restoration process. They are designed to blow lower to the ground at high speeds. This helps force water to quickly evaporate from floors and carpets. Being lower to the ground, it can be directed towards tight locations below obstructions.

Air Scrubbers

An air scrubber is a device that is placed in the affected, fire-damaged room to remove pollution. These strong scrubbers utilize HEPA charcoal filters to effectively remove all airborne contamination, such as smoke and soot.

Balanced Drying

Balanced drying is quite simple, it’s balancing the evaporation and dehumidification of water-damaged materials. The ideal drying situation is in which the rate of evaporation from the contacts is equal to or less than the rate of dehumidification or moisture removal from the air. The balanced drying technique is to prevent moisture absorption in the air into unaffected materials, minimizing the chance of secondary damage occurring.

Board Up and Tarping

Fires can create holes in a structure, burning away doors, windows, and roofs. These holes can remain a problem, allowing possible entry for pesky animals or opportunistic thieves. Board up and tarping is a way to temporarily fix up these holes. Our fire cleanup experts will cover any massive openings on a structure to stop any unwanted visitors from entering.

Category 1

This form of water damage poses no real threat to humans, the water originated from a clean source.

Category 2

Greywater is present, or wastewater, which contains chemicals, biological and/or physical contamination. It has the potential to cause sickness if humans are exposed to it. 

Category 3

The most extreme water damage is where the water is black, known as blackwater. This cleanup requires swift action as it poses serious health risks. It is extremely unsanitary and can result in serious health issues or death if exposed to humans. Water such as ground surface water, floodwater, sewage, and seawater are examples of black water. Mainly common during hurricanes or tsunamis.


A claim is when a home or business owner files an action for financial, insurance assistance after property damage has occurred.

Class 1

The least amount of water, absorption, and evaporation is needed.

Class 2

A large area of water needed to be absorbed and evaporated.

Class 3

A gigantic area of water that must be absorbed and evaporated.

Class 4

This class is highly involved, where the area needs a specialty planned drying situation.


Dehumidification is a high-energy process that removes moisture from the air.


Dehumidifiers are the appliances used to perform the dehumidification process. Typically our technicians use these on jobs where an extremely soaked, water-damaged area is present.


Simply this is where we will remove any water remaining from the affected area while we restore the structure.


Fire Damage Cleanup

This is the process when a professional fire damage cleanup team will go out to the affected site and fully restore any damage the had previously occurred. Our experts will remove all smoke and soot damage from physical objects and present in the air.


High-efficiency particulate absorbing filters can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of pollen, dust, mold, and any other airborne particles. They are effective at fully treating the airborne space of an affected area.


We must perform a visual inspection on water and fire damage before our techs can begin work


The process of properly cleaning, sanitizing, drying, repairing, and restoring a water-damaged property back to pre-loss conditions.

Moisture Detector

A moisture detector is a device with two stainless steel probes that are inserted into the damaged area. A light will go off and indicate the saturation of the affected area, determining if water damage is present.

Odor Removal

Lingering odors from fire damage can be overbearing. The use of proper ventilation and air movers can help speed up this process. Also, treating fabrics and fogging the area if needed.

Thermal Hygrometer

A useful tool for technicians that measures a building’s moisture level.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Special, OSHA standardized equipment that workers must wear for protection when treating water and fire-damaged areas. The equipment is such as gloves, goggles, respirators, hard hats, etc.

Relative Humidity

The relationship between air volume and the moisture it holds at a specific temperature. As temperature increases, humidity to total air volume decreases; this is vise versa as temperature decreases, humidity increases.

Restorative Drying

Returning a structure to pre-loss conditions by removing excess water, humidity, and moisture. There are four principles of restorative drying: extraction, evaporation, temperature control, and dehumidification.

Scope of Work

The overall plan or protocol for a restoration project. It identifies what needs to be done and who is responsible for various components.

Structure Cleaning

An intense cleaning of all surfaces in the damaged area affected by the water or fire damage.

Smoke and Soot

Smoke and soot damage are two separate entities to treat. Soot is damage that needs to be really scrubbed off. While smoke damage is generally in the air or absorbed into porous materials and needs to be sucked out.

Work Authorization

An authorization form that permits individuals or a company to work on-premises. These are always under the terms of the owner’s insurance policy.

Experts in Water and Fire Damage Cleanup

With years of experience, our technicians can restore any water or fire-damaged property. Now that you know the proper terminology our technicians use, recording documentation of the incident is just as much easier for you. Make sure to give our experts a call at (800) 430-5838 for any restoration project you need.

Check out our other blogs on mold remediation and trauma/surface cleaning terminology!

We provide services in Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach,  Orlando, Tampa, Melbourne, and many other locations around Florida!