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  • Writer's pictureClean Indeed

What to Do After Sewage Backup

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

Depending on the severity of the situation, you may be able to take some steps to limit the damage, salvage your belongings, or even handle the problem yourself. Have in mind though that sewage cleanup is a laborious and dangerous job, so do not undertake the task unless the spill is small and easily manageable.

Regardless of whether you intend to use professional sewage cleanup services or attempt DIY sewage cleaning, there are some important precautionary measures to take as soon as you notice the problem:

  • Evacuate children, seniors, and pets and do not allow them in the affected area until it is restored to a safe condition

  • Contact the utility companies that service your area and have them shut off the electricity, gas, and water supply to your home. If the spill is small and there’s no danger to you, you can turn off the power and water supply yourself (only if the power distribution panel and main water valve are safely above water!) – just make sure you wear appropriate personal protective equipment

  • Open windows to ventilate the area

  • Take several pictures of the spill, as well as the water damaged items and structural materials before the cleanup begins (you will need them as proof for your insurance claim).

  • Take any dry, uncontaminated items away

  • Add small amounts of chlorine bleach to standing water – this will ensure some disinfection and prevent bacteria from spreading

  • Notify your insurance company that there has been a sewage backup in your home

DO NOT attempt to unclog drains at this point – the sewage water must be removed before the cause of the spill can be addressed.

If you decide that you can handle the problem yourself, start the cleanup without delay:

As already mentioned, cleaning up sewer backup is difficult, unpleasant, and risky. Calling professional cleaners is highly recommended. Keep in mind that you should only consider a DIY sewage backup cleanup if the case is a minor spill – one that is confined to a small area of your home (bathroom, part of a kitchen, etc.) and has recently happened. Major spills require professional help.

  • Wear protective gloves, rubber boots, protective eye wear and a face mask. Make sure your skin does not come into direct contact with any wastewater as sewage spills contain contaminants that can cause serious infections.

  • Close the doors between the contaminated area and the other rooms in your home to prevent tracking sewage water and debris into clean areas and to ensure that airborne sewage-contaminated dust won’t be blown into other spaces.

  • Remove the sewage water as soon as possible – use a pump if there is a lot of water or a wet-dry vacuum with an appropriate filtration device if the spill is small.

  • Shovel dirt, soil, and debris into strong plastic bags and dispose of them immediately.

  • Take all items from the affected area to an isolated space with a concrete or tiled floor that can be easily sanitized afterward and keep them there until the plumbing problem is fixed and you can address them properly. Discard anything that has been soaked with contaminated water right away.

  • Remove any saturated carpeting, flooring, insulation, wall paneling, baseboards, etc. and dispose of them in a safe and appropriate manner.

  • Wash down all the walls, floors, and surfaces in the affected area with hot water and appropriate bactericidal disinfectants. Follow up with a deep-cleaning using quality household detergent and plenty of water. Take extra care when cleaning the floors – scrub them well with a brush dipped in a solution of one part chlorine bleach and four parts water. Rinse thoroughly with clear water.

  • Remove the excess water and let the area air-dry, we highly recommend using dehumidifiers (don't have the equipment to DIY? Rent from us!) Keep in mind that it’s very important to dry out the wet area within 24-48 hours after the accident in order to reduce the risk of mold growth.

  • Inspect your property for mold – the increased level of indoor moisture in the event of a sewage backup may result in mold growth throughout your home, even on surfaces that have not been in contact with the wastewater. If you find any visible mold, use EPA-approved mold cleaners to kill the spores and disinfect all adjacent surfaces. Call Clean Indeed if the damage is extensive.