ICS Magazine

New Water-Restoration Standards Are Complete

July 12, 2006
Heard the latest? The IICRC has published the first update to their S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration.



Since the focus of the IICRC Standards Committee early in 2000 was the writing of the S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation - published in December 2003 - the 1999 edition of IICRC S500 was placed on the back burner until that precedent-setting document was complete.

Moreover, anyone who's been keeping up with changing technology in the industry should know that 1999 ushered in a new era for water restorers, with new equipment technology (inspection tools, extraction tools, airmovers, dehumidifiers) and new specifications from the IICRC Applied Structural Drying (ASD) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) about equipment-use specifications.

So what's to get all excited about?

  • The new edition is many times the size of the 1999 edition. It has major expansions in scope and content.
  • Principles of Water Damage Restoration and the Principles of Drying are considerably expanded.
  • There's new emphasis in the chapter on the Microbiology of Water Damage with emphasis on water-borne bacteria (Category 3 or sewage losses) that rivals the chapter on Fungal Ecology in IICRC S520.
  • The chapter on Health Effects from Exposure to Microbial Contamination is revised and expanded to include recent studies and references. The critical importance of proper response to prevent contaminated water-related disease or death is highlighted in this chapter.
  • There's a new and comprehensive chapter on Building Science - how abnormal moisture gets into buildings in different climatic zones because of natural and physical laws as they impact the way modern buildings are constructed. Emphasis is on how that moisture affects building materials.
  • Because of the major impact of psychrometry on modern drying techniques, the new S500 has two chapters on that subject: Psychrometry by Definition and Psychrometry and the Science of Drying. These chapters explore and explain the critical role of psychrometry in literally everything today's drying technician must do to achieve efficient and cost-effective drying.
  • The chapter on Water Restoration Drying Equipment and Tools lists all the new tools available to today's restorer, as well as advantages and limitations of each in different drying situations. It covers safety equipment, extraction tools, air moving equipment, structural cavity drying systems, dehumidifiers (refrigerant, LGR, desiccant), hot air and heat-application drying systems, and moisture detection and monitoring equipment.
  • There's an updated chapter in Biocide and Antimicrobial Technology with expanded information on antimicrobial types and risk management.
  • The S500 chapter on Safety and Health has been completely re-written and updated with critical information on lead and asbestos encountered on water losses.


  • A new chapter on Administrative Procedures, Project Documentation and Risk Management has been written by restorers and IICRC legal advisors. It contains information on contracts, client communication, documentation and recordkeeping, equipment and monitoring logs, and other reports and documentation, as well as risk management tools and insurance coverage recommendations.
  • The chapter on water damage Inspections, Preliminary Determinations and Pre-Restoration Evaluations or project planning is vastly expanded, and it follows a step-by-step sequence for the information gathering process. The chapter takes the restorer from the initial response through the inspection process (tools, categories and classes of water; inspecting specific materials, contents and HVAC systems), and on to the development of a preliminary determination of the extent of damage. With this information, the restorer can develop a job scope and work plan.
  • S500 now contains a new chapter on project Limitations, Complexities, Complications and Conflicts. This important chapter informs restores about options when jobs get complex or complicated, or property owners either don't have the money for professional restoration services, or they refuse to authorize necessary and complete restoration services, including when to stop work.
  • A new chapter is included on Specialized Experts as well: the necessary categories, who they are, how to establish a proper and legal relationship with them. It includes information on indoor environmental professionals (IEPs) and when they may be required for pre-remediation assessments or post-remediation verification, particularly on Category 3 losses (sewage and other forms of contamination).
  • The new Structural Restoration chapter, the longest in the standard, is greatly expanded and includes step-by-step procedures for: Category 1 water damage; drying flooring materials subject to Category 1 water; drying building assemblies subject to Category 1 water, and finally, drying contaminated buildings.
  • The chapter on Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Restoration covers this critical building system and how it may be impacted by water damage.
  • Contents Evaluation and Restoration explores the three categories of contents - porous, semi-porous and non-porous - and how to deal with each when contacted by Category 1 water or by Category 2 or 3 water. This chapter has specific recommendations for: art work and high-value collectables, books and documents, electronic media, draperies, bedding, upholstery, case goods, musical instruments, pool tables, area rugs, clothing and household fabrics, furs and taxidermy, appliances and electronics, and firearms.
  • Finally, an entirely new chapter has been written on Large or Catastrophic Restoration Projects and how they differ in scope and response from typical residential water losses.


The new S500 has appendices covering:

  • Carpet disengagement, re-engagement and reinstallation.
  • In-place drying - when it's appropriate and when it isn't.
  • The Society of Cleaning and Restoration's Water-extraction Efficiency Testing (WET) study.
  • Structural wood geographical moisture equilibrium content charts.
  • Dos and Don'ts for water damage victims.


The IICRC and its Standards Committee and subcommittees have worked long and hard to produce this new standard. Everyone - consumer, insurance carrier and restoration contractor alike - will benefit from the new edition of the IICRC Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration.