Finding sewage backup in your home is never pleasant.  When sewer lines are damaged or clogged, it can leave you with a big mess on your hands.  It’s also a problem that is highly hazardous to your health and must be taken care of immediately.  There are steps you should take to avoid risks and get things cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Health Hazards & Risks

  • 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.
  • 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.

Make the Right Call

  • Water restoration professionals are highly trained and carry the right equipment to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What to Do Now

  • While waiting for professionals to arrive there are things you can do.
    • 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.
    • Call your insurance company and be sure damages are documented in the event you do file an insurance claim.

Don’t put yourself at risk.  When dealing with sewage cleanup, leave it to the professionals.  They will take care to ensure that all health hazards have been eliminated so you and your family can stay safe.

 

Related Blog Posts:

What Should I do if My Home Floods?

The Dangers of DIY Sewage Damage Cleanup

The Risks of DIY Basement Water Removal & Cleanup

Prevent Water Damage Today with This Checklist

How to Recognize Signs of Water Damage in Your Basement

Prevent Mold in Your Basement

 

Additional References & Resources:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/BePreparedBeSafe/SevereWeatherandNaturalDisasters/SewageSpillsCleaningThemUp

https://www.genoa.org/articles/article/sewerbackupcleanup

https://www.smchealth.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/sewage_spill_cleanup_rev_11_2014.pdf?1470242013

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