Moisture Intrusion Events Policy


This document provides the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a set of practices and procedures used during a response to a moisture intrusion event. This document also define roles and responsibilities for departments during moisture intrusion events on campus.



University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Moisture Intrusion Events Policy



To provide the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) with a set of practices and procedures used during a response to a moisture intrusion event. To also define roles and responsibilities for the departments during moisture intrusion events on campus.

Scope of Applicability

The Moisture Intrusion Events Policy applies to all UNC departments involved in moisture intrusion events including, but not limited to, Environment Health and Safety (EHS) and the Facilities Services Division (FSD).


Contamination - the presence of undesired substances; the identity, location and quantity of which are not reflective of a normal indoor environment, and can produce adverse health effects, cause damage to structure and contents or adversely affect the operation or function of building systems.

Moisture intrusion event - unintentional release of water, either in liquid or vapor form, into a building, including the building’s envelope and mechanical system. Such events would include, but are not be limited to, water/steam leaks from plumbing or mechanical systems, failing foundation waterproofing and weather events.

Non-Porous material - materials that do not hold residual water or those that have been surface treated such as vinyl flooring, finished wood, concrete, and plaster.

Porous material - materials that hold residual water such as carpeting, drywall, ceiling tiles, unfinished wood, upholstered furniture, paper goods/cardboard and textiles (e.g., clothing, mattresses, and pillows).

Water Category - the categories of water, refer to the range of contamination in water, considering both its originating source and quality after it contacts materials present on the job site. Time and temperature can affect or retard the amplification of contaminants, thereby affecting its category.

Water Categories
Category Description Examples
1-Clean Water Water that originates from a source that does not pose substantial harm to humans.
  • Broken Water Supply Lines
  • Tub or Sinks Overflows
  • Melting Ice/Snow
  • Falling Rainwater
  • Broken Toilet Tanks/Bowls (with no additives or contaminants)
2-Gray Water Water that contains a significant level of contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans. Gray water carries microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. May contain chemicals, bio-contaminants (fungal, bacterial, viral, algae) and other forms of contamination.
  • Dishwashers
  • Washing Machines
  • Toilet Water with urine (no feces)
  • Sump Pumps
  • Seepage due to hydrostatic pressure
  • Aquariums
  • Reclaimed Water
3-Black Water Water that contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary. May cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed. Category-2 water that is not promptly removed from the structure may be reclassified as category-3 water.
  • Sewage
  • Toilet Backflows (Beyond Trap)
  • Flooding (Groundwater Sources that contains silt and organic matter)
  • Water Contaminated w/ Pesticides, Heavy Metals, or Toxic Organic Substances


Roles and Responsibilities

The Department of Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS)

EHS is responsible for the following:

  • Responding to reports of moisture intrusion events with Facilities Services Division (FSD).
  • Assisting in determining the category of water contamination.
  • Identifying and evaluating potential health and safety hazards including, but not limited to, mold contamination, electrical, fire, slips, trips, and falls.
  • Conducting moisture inspections/assessments of buildings.
  • Assisting in defining the scope and procedures for moisture intrusion response and remedial activities.
  • Providing training updates to FSD and other University Staff on moisture response.
  • Communicating with building occupants and FSD regarding health concerns and inspection results.
  • Assisting FSD in working with outside remediation contractors. Including the development of contract language and project specification review. 
  • Documenting and tracking moisture intrusion events in EHS’s Health and Safety Information Management System (HASMIS).

Facilities Services Division (FSD)

FSD is responsible for the following:

  • Responding to reports of moisture intrusion events and notifying EHS of all events.
  • Determining category of water contamination. Seek assistance from EHS as needed.
  • Defining the scope and implementing procedures for moisture intrusion response and remedial activities.
  • Implementing containment procedures needed to protect uncontaminated floor coverings, building materials and room contents.
  • When applicable, determining the source of moisture intrusion and taking corrective action, including stopping the moisture source and implementing initial remedial measures (i.e., drying).
  • Determining the extent of moisture intrusion, including potential hidden moisture locations (e.g. wall cavities, under cabinets, etc.). This includes the evaluation of flooring materials, room contents and structural materials.
  • Adjusting HVAC controls, when possible, to aid in humidity control and drying.
  • Reporting suspected mold growth concerns to EHS.
  • Arranging and coordinating work with contractors for remediation projects.
  • Communicating with EHS and building occupants regarding work schedules and providing regular status reports.
  • Conducting inspection, oversight, and documentation on moisture response projects.

Moisture Intrusion Event Response

In determining the appropriate response for a moisture intrusion event, an initial determination must be made by FSD regarding the moisture source and category of water contamination. For all categories, a detailed inspection and assessment shall be conducted in accordance with the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration (S500). The moisture source should also be located and eliminated, repaired or contained to full extent possible.

To minimize damage to building components and contents, a timely response must be conducted for all categories of moisture intrusion events. An immediate response will help prevent the amplification of microorganisms such as mold growth. Visible mold growth can occur within 24-48 hours even in a clean water (category 1) event. Should the event happen during off hours or weekends, on call personnel should respond as quickly as possible.

For all moisture events FSD shall be the initial responder to initiate control, removal, cleaning, and drying of the affected area. FSD will notify EHS of the event. A joint evaluation by FSD and EHS shall be conducted for category 2 and 3 moisture events. The primary aspects of this evaluation will be a determination of potential exposure risks, extent of damage, and resources needed to adequately respond to the event. A determination will be made by FSD as to whether a professional water restoration contractor is needed. All categories of moisture events that contain evidence of mold growth shall be handled according to the University’s mold remediation guidelines.

Moisture Removal Process

  • Initial moisture removal shall be by absorption or extraction using absorbent materials (e.g., pads, towels, etc.), pumps, or commercial vacuum/extraction units. Depending on the volume and origin of the moisture intrusion, extraction may be required in building systems or components, including but not limited to, HVAC systems, wall cavities, flooring systems, and mechanical chases.
  • Upon completion of initial moisture removal, cleaning and removal of debris, soils, and other contaminants shall be conducted. The decision of cleaning versus disposal will be dependent on the water category, health risk, and material composition (porous or non-porous). Other considerations include the cost of cleaning versus replacement, and other types of value (e.g., artistic, cultural, historical). This determination may be the responsibility of multiple entities such as EHS, FSD, and the department who owns the materials/items.
  • A determination on the removal of carpet, including cushioning and other porous floor coverings shall be conducted to determine whether these items can be salvaged for category 1 events. Remove and dispose of carpet cushion (pad, underlayment) saturated with category 2 or 3 water.
  •  For all moisture events in which the carpet will be reused, a final carpet cleaning using steam extraction shall be conducted. 
  • FSD will establish a defined containment zone for category 3 events to limit the potential for cross-contamination. Contaminated materials removed from the affected area should be double bagged before passing through uncontaminated areas. Equipment and personnel must be de-contaminated (e.g., cleaned and disinfected) before leaving the containment zone. For large outdoor releases, notify UNC Transportation and Parking to help restrict access to the contaminated area. EHS Industrial Hygiene will assist with releases requiring access to campus confined spaces to ensure use of proper entry procedures. EHS Environmental Affairs will assist with outdoor releases to minimize long-term impact to campus property and the environment.
  • Once gross contamination associated with category 3 events has been removed, the affected area must be cleaned with detergent then sanitized with a disinfectant. The disinfectant must be approved by EHS. Disinfectant contact should be followed according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Upon the completion of the initial moisture extraction and cleaning, steps shall be taken to increase the rate of drying. This can be accomplished by using dehumidifiers and air movers. Air movers should not be used in situations where mold growth or other contaminants have occurred until contaminants have been removed. HVAC systems may be used to aid in drying process only when there is no contamination such as mold growth in the system. Drying equipment should remain in operation on site until it has been verified and documented that the drying goals have been achieved. The number of air movers used should be adequate for the drying the affected area. IICR recommends using one air mover for every 50-70 square feet (SF) of affected wet floor in each room (to address floors and lower wall surfaces up to approximately 2 feet), and one for every 100-150 SF of affected wet ceiling and wall areas above approximately 2 feet.
  • Removal of building materials such as baseboards or sheetrock may be required to facilitate the drying process.
  • Monitoring shall be conducted throughout the restoration and drying process. This monitoring shall be conducted per the use of visual inspections, temperature and humidity measurements, and moisture meter readings.

Use of Biocides or Other Cleaning Materials

Depending on the water category of the moisture event (2 or 3) or response timing (>48 hours) the application of biocides to control mold growth may be needed. All products shall be used strictly according to the label directions. Prior to use, all biocides, anti-microbial, and disinfectant products shall be reviewed and approved by EHS.

Regulated, Hazardous Materials: Asbestos, Lead, and Mold

If a regulated or hazardous material is part of a water damage restoration project, then EHS will assist in damage remediation assessment. Restorers shall comply with applicable federal, state, provincial and local laws and regulations. Remediation of mold must be done prior to restorative drying. For situations involving visible or suspected mold, refer to the current version of ANSI/IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation. Only qualified persons shall abate regulated materials.

Personal Protective Equipment

Persons conducting evaluations or restoration activities for water category 2 and 3 moisture events shall wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including respirators, gloves, eye protection, foot protection and protective coveralls. A determination of specific PPE to be used by University employees will be made by Industrial Hygienists with EHS. 

PPE used for category 3 events will be discarded or sanitized after use. Contaminated personal clothing or department uniforms must not be taken home. Hands must be washed after removing gloves. 

Training Requirements

Employees performing moisture response activities shall receive training on the work practices including, drying methods and health and safety concerns. Employees involved in mitigating category 3 events must also be enrolled in the campus Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Program which includes receiving annual Bloodborne Pathogen training and being offered the Hepatitis B immunization at no cost to the employee. Employees conducting confined space entries must be current in permit-required confined space entry training.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

  • American National Standards Institute and Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification - S500: Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration
  • American National Standards Institute and Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification - S520: Standard for Professional Mold Remediation
  • Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification - R520: Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Primary Contacts

Environment, Health and Safety
1120 Estes Drive
Campus Box #1650
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Phone: 919-962-5507
EHS website

Facilities Services
Giles F. Horney Building
103 Airport Drive
Campus Box #1800
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Customer Service: 919-962-3456
Facilities Services website

Other Contacts

Transportation and Parking
Public Safety Building
285 Manning Drive
Campus Box #1610
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Hours: Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Phone: 919-962-3951
Transportation and Parking website



Article ID: 132047
Thu 4/8/21 9:22 PM
Tue 6/29/21 12:49 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Environment, Health and Safety
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Executive Director
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
06/28/2022 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
06/29/2021 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
06/29/2021 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
06/29/2021 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
01/23/2019 7:32 AM