The last thing that anyone wants to deal with is a sewage back up in their home. When you work hard to clean your home clean and tidy, it’s a terrible experience to see the floor and surfaces covered with sewage. A sewage backup occurs when there is a drain clog that had blocked the entire drain. After you flush, the waste and water need to go somewhere, and if it cannot pass the pipe, it backs up in your home. Although this is a disgusting mess, it’s also a health hazard because the sewage contains bacteria that are harmful to come into contact with. In this area, we will look at three key areas, how to clean, sanitize and prevent a sewage backup.
How to Clean a Sewage Backup
After a sewage backup occurs, it’s natural to panic a little, but you need to keep calm and carry out the following steps to deal with the problem:
- Clear the home of any kids, seniors, and pets, and don’t allow them to return until the mess is cleaned.
- Put on some rubber gloves, goggles, rubber boots, and a face mask to stay safe when cleaning.
- If your distribution panel is above the water level, switch off the power supply using a dry wooden stick.
- Shut-off the water supply and don’t use the water for drinking, cooking, bathing, or anything else until the situation is under control.
- Contact the utility company if you cannot shut-off the water and get them to do it for you.
- Open every window and door in the home to increase air ventilation. Don’t use the air conditioner because this will re-circulate contaminated air.
- Remove dry and uncontaminated items that you want to protect.
- Add some chlorine bleach to pools of standing water to begin the disinfection process.
- Get in contact with your insurance company and tell them about the sewage backup. Take pictures with your phone of any damage, and this will be handy later when you file an insurance claim.
- Don’t try to unclog the drain until the sewage is cleaned away.
How to Sanitize a Sewage Backup
If you’re attempting to clean the area without help from your local professional plumber, make sure you’re wearing the safety equipment mentioned above. Then follow these steps in order to bring the situation under control:
- Use a pump or natural draining to get rid of the backed up water and any sewage in your home. Ask the local authorities about how you should dispose of the sewage.
- Clean away debris and dirt on surfaces that were in contact with the sewage.
- Wash down floors, walls, and other surfaces with clean hot water and a low suds detergent cleaner.
- Rinse the surfaces thoroughly with warm water and repeat the cleaning and rinsing until the area is clean.
- Every surface should be sanitized with a sanitizing solution, and be careful to avoid cross contamination between affected areas with dirty boots.
- Keep the doors and windows open to air out the rooms and speed up the drying process.
How to Prevent Sewage Backups
Once you’ve cleaned and sanitized a sewage backup, you will be motivated to make sure that it never happens again. Adopting a proactive approach will be important if you want to prevent another sewage backup. Use the following measure to reduce the risks and make sure everyone in the home is following these simple rules:
- Ensure that you have a regular inspection of your plumbing system. A professional plumber can examine your valves, pipes, and fixtures to make sure they are in good condition and working as intended.
- Avoid using chemical cleaning products because they are caustic and they can damage your pipes. It’s tempting to use chemical cleaners because they are fast, but a professional plumber will always use a manual removal method. In many cases, a drain clog will return later if a chemical cleaner is used.
- Don’t pour grease and oil down the kitchen drain because these materials will harden in the pipes when they cool. Because they are sticky other materials will adhere to them to create a formidable clog. Install a drain cover at each sink and dispose of grease and oil in a responsible manner.
- Don’t flush anything in the toilet except human waste and toilet paper. These are the only two materials that a modern toilet is designed to handle. Even kitchen paper can cause a clog because it’s designed to absorb large volumes of liquid, and it won’t break up easily like toilet paper.
- Don’t plant trees in your yard anywhere near the drain line that runs out to the street. The roots of trees are constantly seeking sources of water and nutrients. If a root detects even a tiny crack in your drain line, it will grow towards it and intrude into the pipe over time. Eventually, the drain line will be clogged or break apart, and this can lead to a number of problems, including a sewage backup.
A Professional or DIY Approach?
Many people will be tempted to tackle a sewage backup on their own, but it’s not as easy as you might imagine. Aside from the obvious “yucky” factor, there are practical considerations, such as taking care of your loved ones, documenting the damage, making phone calls, and many other tasks. Some people won’t have protective equipment, and dealing with sewage without the right gear can harm your health. Even if you do manage to deal with the aftermath of a sewage backup, there’s still the underlying cause to deal with. Somewhere in the drain line, there is a clog that caused the problem in the first place, and removing it safely is a job for a professional plumber. They have the skills, experience, and specialized tools to locate the clog and remove it without damaging your pipes. In some cases, a camera inspection will be required to locate a deeper clog or take a look for drain line damage.
If you have a sewage backup in your home or you’re concerned about drain line clogs, contact your local certified plumber 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.