Sewage cleanup is no laughing matter. It requires extensive cleanup to avoid potential exposure to harmful bacteria. So how do you go about cleaning up a mess like that? We’ve got you covered with our 101 on how to tackle sewage cleanup and how to know when it’s time to call in the professionals.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DEALING WITH
- Sewage water contamination can range. Greywater is water from utilities like sinks, tubs, showers, or dishwashers and is considered mildly contaminated. Black water refers to the water used to flush toilets that mixes with human waste. This type of water can contain contaminants like parasites, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Contact with this type of water is considered highly hazardous as it can pose serious health risks including hepatitis A and encephalitis.
- If proper protocols for cleanup are not carefully met, then people and animals are at high risk of becoming sick.
KNOW THE RISKS
- Sewage water will easily find its way into porous surfaces like walls, cabinets, and floors. That means that damages are not always easily visible. Damages behind walls may not be discovered until it is too late.
- Mold can begin forming in as little as 24-48 hours. Any surfaces that are not dried properly are at risk. Mold exposure can bring with it health risks, especially to those with health problems like asthma or compromised immune systems.
- Anytime there is flooding it is always important to be aware of the risks of electrocution or explosion. Shut off the power if you feel there is a risk and only if you can do so safely. Never enter a flooded area unless electricity and gas have been turned off. If there is a smell of gas, evacuate your home and do not return until it has been assessed by professionals. Do not touch any electrical lines, equipment, or fixtures during or after a flood, even with the power turned off.
KNOW WHEN TO CALL PROFESSIONALS
- If not cleaned properly, water on a property can become a very expensive problem. What seems like an easy cleanup can turn into a major project. Water seeps quickly and easily into walls, floors, and textiles. Neglect of any damp area can lead to major structural damage. Time is critical in minimizing damage.
- Anytime you are dealing with raw sewage, this type of contamination is classified as a Category 3. This is the highest level and means that harmful biohazards including viruses, bacteria, and germs are present. The EPA recommends that a professional water restoration service should be used for everything but the most minor occurrences.
- Certified water restoration professionals will have the proper training, experience, and equipment necessary to safely clean and restore the damaged area. They will take care in removing the water and sewage, removing any contaminated property, drying out the damaged area, and thoroughly sanitizing the contaminated area with high-grade cleaning products and techniques.
KNOW WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU WAIT
- Shut off the power. You should never go into a wet area unless the power is turned off and you know it is safe. If you are unsure, wait for professionals to arrive.
- Be sure all children and pets are cleared away from the affected area.
- Do not approach the affected area unless you are wearing protective gear including safety glasses, rubber boots, and a face mask.
- Open windows and run fans for ventilation.
- Stop all use of the household plumbing system to avoid cross contamination. This includes flushing toilets, turning on water in sinks, showers, or bathtubs, and running dishwashers or washing machines.
- Avoid using DIY methods for removing the clog including chemical cleaners. These attempts will most likely not get deep enough to clear the system and chemical cleaners can damage pipes and sewer lines.
- You may want to document the damages. If you need to file an insurance claim, you may need evidence of the impact and damages.
Cleanup of sewage is nasty business. It’s important to know the risks when cleaning up that kind of mess to know when it’s time to call in a professional. Water damage is time sensitive, so cleanup should begin immediately.
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