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Drying the floor from water spill

How to Clean Up a Sewage Backup Mess Safely

A sewage backup creates a great deal of mess in your home, but it also poses a health threat to your family. This is a hard situation to handle on your own, and many people seek the help of a local professional plumber. Prevention is better than the cure, and this is why many homeowners schedule regular maintenance for their plumbing system. But, if you have experienced a sewage backup, there are three distinct stages to deal with the situation safely.

1. Immediate Response

When a sewage backup occurs, it’s perfectly natural to panic a little, but this will not help you to deal with the situation. Try to keep a cool head and follow these ten steps in order to deal with the backup safely.

Step 1: Remove all children, seniors, and pets from your home, don’t let them return until the problem is fixed and the area is sanitized.

Step 2: Protect yourself against health issues as you work by wearing protective clothing, such as rubber boots, eye protection, a face mask, and rubber gloves.

Step 3: If your electrical distribution panel is located above the dirty water, switch it off with a wooden stick or handle and wear rubber gloves. This will protect you from the risk of electrocution.

Step 4: Locate the water main and turn off the supply of water to the home. Don’t use any water for drinking, bathing, or any cleaning tasks because it’s likely to be contaminated with bacteria.

Step 5: If you cannot shut-off the water to your home, contact your utility company and ask them for help.

Step 6: Open up all the doors and windows in the home to get some fresh air into the rooms. Avoid using the HVAC system until the problem is fixed because this can spread contaminated air throughout the home.

Step 7: Remove any dry and uncontaminated valuable items from the home and put them where they will be safe and secure until the crisis is over.

Step 8: Add some small volumes of chlorinated bleach to standing water to begin the disinfection process.

Step 9: Contact the insurance company, tell them you’ve had a sewage backup, and take plenty of pictures of any damage that you can find. This will be essential when you need the proof for filing your home insurance claim.

Step 10: Avoid the temptation to unclog your drains at this stage. The sewage spill needs to be cleaned up before you take action.

2. Cleaning and Sanitizing

Before you begin to clean and sanitize the affected areas, you need to wear the protective gear that we mentioned above. If you’re not certain about how to clean safely, it’s a better idea to call in a local plumber for professional help. If you want to attempt the cleaning yourself, here are six steps to follow.

Step 1: Use a pump or natural draining to remove the sewage and backed-up water. It’s important to contact the local authorities and ask them where the sewage should be drained before you get started.

Step 2: Remove any dirt or debris from any surfaces that the sewage and dirty water came into contact with.

Step 3: Wash surfaces, walls, floors, and any other areas that came into contact with the sewage backup with clean hot water and a low-suds detergent.

Step 4: Rinse the cleaned surfaces with plenty of warm water.

Step 5: Sanitize every surface with a sanitizing solution and avoid cross contamination by walking into cleaned areas with dirty rubber boots.

Step 6: Open up the windows and door to allow fresh air into the affected room.

3. Prevention is Better Than the Cure

As you can see, dealing with a sewage backup is no picnic, and it’s not surprising that many homeowners seek ways to avoid them entirely. For this reason, we recommend that you follow these five simple steps to significantly reduce the chance that you will experience a sewage backup in your home.

Step 1: Schedule a regular inspection of your plumbing system. This will ensure that they are in great shape and identify potential problems earlier. A minor plumbing issue is less expensive to repair if it’s caught sooner rather than later.

Step 2: Don’t use chemical drain cleaning products in your drains to remove a clog. This may seem like a quick and easy method, but the caustic chemicals in these products can damage your plumbing pipes. This is why a professional plumber will always use a manual clog removal method.

Step 3: Only flush human waste and toilet paper in your toilets. These plumbing fixtures are not designed to handle anything else, and this is how many toilet clogs are formed.

Step 4: Never pour grease into the kitchen drain. It can harden and form the core of a stubborn drain clog that will be hard to shift.

Step 5: Avoid planting shrubs and trees near the pipes that run under your yard. The roots structures will seek out moisture from the pipes, and they could penetrate them, leading to a blockage and sewer backup.

3 Key Things to Bear in Mind

Now you have a good idea of what is involved in dealing with a sewage backup safely. But, we have three key things that you need to bear in mind as you deal with this problem.

1. Gather Evidence

We’ve already mentioned taking plenty of pictures to support your insurance claim. But, you also need to keep any receipts of work that’s related to the sewage backup problem. This can include cleaning materials, replacement items, professional plumbing services, and other key purchases.

2. Isolate Affected Areas

As you move throughout your home cleaning and sanitizing, you must prevent cross contamination. Shut all doors that lead into affected areas, and only people involved in cleaning are allowed in those rooms. When you enter and leave, clean your rubber boots and coats them in a sanitizing solution.

3. Avoid Harsh Chemical Products

Trying to shift a sewage clog with a chemical drain clearing products is a bad idea. We’ve already mentioned that it can cause damage to your pipes, but the fumes and potential contact burns can make a bad situation even worse.

If you’re worried about a future sewage backup or you need to deal with one right now, contact your local certified plumber for professional help today.

By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.