Sewage backups can happen due to a number of reasons, but regardless of the cause, one thing is always for sure – they always result in a terrible mess.
Filthy, disgusting, and contaminated sewage is not your typical water damage situation. Instead, sewage is way dirtier and more dangerous than any other type of a leak you may have faced in the past.
Knowing how to address sewage properly in order to avoid getting sick from exposure to numerous germs, bacteria, and microorganisms in wastewater is critical. So, in today’s post, you’ll learn how to do exactly that. Read until the end to learn some of the best and most helpful sewage cleanup tips.
What Causes Sewage Backups
Sewage backups can be caused by blockages in the sewer line, which can themselves be caused by flushing items such as paper towels, hygiene products, and wipes down the toilet.
Another cause is tree roots growing into the sewer line, which can cause blockages and damage to the pipes. In addition, heavy rain and flooding can overload the sewer system, causing backups in residential basements or bathrooms.
What to Do Immediately After a Sewage Backup
When you experience a sewage backup, there are several things you should do immediately:
- Evacuate the area: Evacuate the area to ensure your safety and prevent exposure to harmful bacteria and other contaminants.
- Turn off electrical power: Turn off the electricity to prevent electrical shocks.
- Document the damage: Take photos or videos of the damage and keep a record of any items that were damaged or lost as a result of the backup. This information may be useful for insurance purposes.
Make sure to wear protective clothing if you’re coming close to sewage during any of these steps. We’ll discuss what exact type of clothing you need later on.
How Harmful is Sewage
Sewage contains a variety of harmful pollutants, including bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, which can pose serious health risks.
Exposure to these pollutants can cause a range of health problems and diseases, including Campylobacteriosis, Cryptosporidiosis, Encephalitis, and others.
Sewage can also cause structural damage to your home and lead to mold growth, which can further exacerbate health problems.
This is why it’s essential to be exceptionally careful when around such damage.
Not to mention that sewage can leave behind that very nasty, rotten smell that can linger in your house for weeks or even months down the line if you don’t clean it up correctly.
How Long Does Sewage Bacteria Last on Surfaces
Sewage bacteria can last on surfaces for several days, depending on the type of bacteria and the surface it’s on. Some bacteria, like E.coli, can last up to a few weeks.
Safety Precautions before Cleaning up Sewage
Before cleaning up sewage, it’s important to take necessary safety precautions to protect yourself and others.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as coveralls, gloves, masks, and boots, are essential to prevent direct contact with the sewage.
Proper ventilation is necessary to prevent inhalation of harmful gasses.
And finally, electrical safety should also be taken into consideration to avoid electrocution.
Steps to Take to Clean Up Sewage
There are several steps involved in sewage cleanup. Each step is equally as important, and you should not let your guard down until a last drop of sewage is gone from your bathroom, basement, and any other room sewage has spilled into.
How to Remove Water After a Sewage Backup
First, you have to remove the water. Standing water should be removed using a wet vacuum or a water extraction pump. Sewage wastewater removal is done in 5 steps:
- Set up the pump: Set up the pump in the area where the water has accumulated, making sure that the discharge hose is pointed towards an appropriate drainage location.
- Prime the pump: Prime the pump by filling the pump and the suction hose with water. This will help the pump to operate efficiently.
- Turn on the pump: Turn on the pump and allow it to run until all the water has been removed from the affected area.
- Empty the discharge tank: When the discharge tank becomes full, turn off the pump and empty the tank.
- Repeat as necessary: Repeat the process until all the water has been removed from the affected area.
How to Dispose of Sewage Waste
After cleaning up sewage, it’s important to dispose of waste in tanks properly. Sewage waste should be treated as hazardous and should not be disposed of in regular trash bins. Here’s what you can do:
- Use appropriate containers: Use appropriate containers such as sealed buckets, drums or tanks that are designed for the storage of sewage water. These containers should be made of sturdy materials that can withstand the weight of the water and are labeled appropriately.
- Transport the sewage water: Once you have collected the sewage water, transport it to a treatment plant or other facility that is licensed to handle and treat sewage water.
- Follow local regulations: Follow local regulations and guidelines for the proper disposal of sewage water. Typically, you can dispose of garbage in a landfill but raw sewage should be disposed of in a sanitary sewer system.
- Do not dump sewage water: Do not dump sewage water in public areas, on roads, or in bodies of water as this can cause pollution and harm to the environment, as well as possibly getting you into trouble with authorities.
How to Disinfect After a Sewage Backup
After that, the affected area should be disinfected using appropriate disinfectants, such as bleach. Apply the following steps:
- Dilute the bleach: Dilute the bleach in water according to the instructions on the label. Usually, a solution of one cup of bleach per gallon of water is recommended for cleaning.
- Clean the area: Clean the affected area thoroughly with hot water and soap or a disinfectant cleaner. Pay particular attention to areas that were in contact with the sewage water such as floors, walls, and furniture.
- Apply the bleach solution: Apply the bleach solution to the affected area using a spray bottle or mop. Be sure to cover all surfaces thoroughly with the bleach solution.
- Let the solution sit: Allow the bleach solution to sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
- Rinse with water: Rinse the area with clean water to remove any residual bleach solution.
- Allow the area to dry: Allow the area to air dry completely before restoring any items or furniture to the area.
Be sure to follow the instructions on all products you’re using to ensure maximum effectiveness.
How to Dry Out After a Sewage Backup
Lastly, the area should be dried to prevent the growth of mold and other harmful bacteria. For drying you’ll need air movers and dehumidifiers.
Air movers should be placed so that they can target specific damp areas in the affected room. Dehumidifier, on the other hand, is used to bring the humidity levels of the entire room down.
Leave the equipment for some time and then come back to monitor the progress. Note that drying will take some time, so be patient.
Sewage backups can be very difficult to deal with. Not only do you have to go through all of the steps we’ve outlined in this article, but you may also need to replace some of your damaged property, like flooring and walls.
If you’re not sure how to perform proper sewage cleanup, contact a water mitigation company and have them perform the work for you.
Professionals like these have usually gone through the training necessary to clean up sewage, and they have enough experience to handle your problems with confidence.