Sewer back up and water damage

Flooding due to sewer back-up

Sewer back-ups can be filthy, messy, and very stressful. (Photo Credits)

Sewer backups can send any homeowner into panic mode. And why not? His home is not only getting flooded, it is getting inundated by unsanitary water!

The problem with sewage flooding is that it does not only happen because there is something wrong with the septic tank. It can also happen when flood waters inundate a home and put a pressure in a home’s sewage system.

So what can a property owner do when the sewer suddenly backs up?

The Minnesota Health Department came up with a guide on the steps to take when the sewage suddenly backs up.

“If you do end up with a sewage back-up problem, the following steps will help keep the damage to a minimum. Begin by removing all floor drain covers. Use mechanical metal grip plugs to seal the drains – and prevent sewage from entering the home.   Repeat the process for toilets, bathtub drains, and shower drains. Metal grip plugs are available at plumbing supply stores.”

Read the whole guide here.

The City of Ottawa, also came up with a comprehensive guide on how homeowners should deal with sewage flooding. Apart from the immediate action that should be undertaken during the backing up of sewage, the guide also discussed about assessing the risks that come with contaminated flood water.

“Immediately add small amounts of chlorine bleach to standing water. Remove standing water with pumps or pails, then with a wet/dry shop vacuum. Water contaminated with sewage may contain a number of bacteria and viruses, which can affect health. The major health concern is related to organisms that affect the gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting and diarrhea (gastroenteritis), and those that affect the liver (Hepatitis A, yellow jaundice). You can contract these illnesses by consuming contaminated food or water, or by putting contaminated hands or articles into your mouth. These bacteria and viruses are not transmitted through the air. Skin irritation or infection can also occur from contact with contaminated water, particularly if open cuts or sores are present.”

The whole article can be downloaded here.

Erie County has developed a quick printable guide on what homeowners should do if their sewage backs up all of a sudden. In the said guide they included health tips, cleaning tips, remediation tips, as well as a list of personal protective equipment to wear during clean-up. Check over here  

“Avoid touching face, mouth, eyes, nose, or open sores and cuts while handling human waste or sewage.  Keep open sores, cuts, and wounds covered with clean, dry bandages. Use waterproof gloves to prevent cuts and contact with human waste or sewage. Before eating, remove soiled work clothes and eat in designated areas away from human waste and sewage. handling activities. Do not smoke or chew tobacco or gum while handling human waste or sewage. Gently flush eyes with clean water if human waste or sewage contacts eyes. Wear rubber boots at the worksite and during transport of human waste or sewage. Remove rubber boots and work clothes before leaving worksite. Clean contaminated work clothing daily with 0.05% chlorine solution (1 part household bleach to 100 parts water).”

The whole guide can be printed from here.

Sewer backups are indeed a health risk that should be acted upon immediately by professional water damage restorers.

Restoring flooded shoes