What is Greywater?

When hit with any type of flooding, it’s essential to know which types of water you’re dealing with. Greywater can be defined as any domestic wastewater produced, excluding sewage. The main difference between greywater and sewage (or blackwater) is the organic loading. Sewage has a much larger organic loading compared to greywater.

White water is harmless and typically comes from a broken water line, faucet or an overflowing sink. Greywater develops as a by product of regular activities like washing clothes, showering, washing dishes or running the dishwasher. When one of these types of appliances malfunctions and a flood results, the water is considered greywater. Greywater also may come from a sump pump failure or even a broken aquarium. Greywater, a Category 2 water, is also known as sullage.

Some people also categorise kitchen wastewater as blackwater because it has quite a high organic loading relative to other sources of wastewater such as bath water.

People are now waking up to the benefits of greywater re-use, and the term "Wastewater" is in many respects a misnomer. Maybe a more appropriate term for this water would be "Used Water".

Most greywater is easier to treat and recycle than blackwater (sewage), because of lower levels of contaminants. If collected using a separate plumbing system from blackwater, domestic greywater can be recycled directly within the home, garden or company and used either immediately or processed and stored. If stored, it must be used within a very short time or it will begin to putrefy due to the organic solids in the water. Recycled greywater of this kind is never safe to drink, but a number of treatment steps can be used to provide water for washing or flushing toilets.

Is Greywater Dangerous?

Any flood water can be dangerous, especially if you enter a room with standing water while the power is still connected. Water and electricity together can be deadly. Never enter a space with electricity and standing water.

Greywater does contain contaminants that are harmful to people and pets if ingested or exposed. Because it’s a combination of detergents, cleaning agents, bleach, dirt and food debris including grease, greywater carries microorganisms as well as various nutrients these microorganisms need to thrive. This type of flood water is never potable, although some greywater may be used to water landscaping plants and foliage.

Greywater Clean Up

Keep anyone with allergies, asthma or a compromised immune system away from greywater flood damage. If you opt to begin cleaning after the washing machine flooded the basement, take safety precautions by wearing protective gear such as non-porous rubber gloves, shoe covers/boots, long pants, long sleeves, safety glasses and even a mask.

Always consider the flooded space as a biohazard, keeping pets and children away. If you’re unsure about the safety of the greywater damage clean up, don’t hesitate to call in a professional remediation team.

Important: Greywater can turn into black water in about 48 hours, which is why immediate action and clean up is crucial for the health and safety of everyone in the home.

The water needs to be extracted as soon as possible in order to start the dehumidification process. Greywater damaged carpeting may need to be removed completely and replaced, especially water-damaged padding. All affected/damaged contents need to be removed, cleaned, and dried. If the item can’t be cleaned, sanitized and dried properly, it should be trashed.

Although it may seem as easy as mopping up a mess, greywater clean-up is time-consuming job. All major water leaks or flooding should be handled by a professional company.


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