Sewage Cleanup in Basements: How to Clean Out Backed Up Sewage From a Basement
There’s arguably nothing worse than finding raw sewage in basement rooms. Whether you have a finished basement or it’s used a storage area, cleaning up sewage in the basement is pretty gross. It’s hard to prepare yourself for dealing with a sewage backup in your basement.
Unfortunately, it’s more difficult than cleaning regular water damage. Sewage contains parasites, fungi, bacteria, and other harmful elements that are found in sewage. Allowing it to remain in your home for any length of time brings several health-related issues. For that reason, it’s important that you get the sewage flooding removed and cleaned up as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, cleaning up a sewer backup in your basement will likely be unpleasant. In addition to the mess, expect foul smells as well. It’s important to prepare yourself for cleaning up sewage in the basement. This is much more involved than cleaning up other types of water damage or a basement drain backup. This guide will help you navigate cleaning up sewage in the basement.
What You Need to Clean Up Sewage In The Basement
Old Towels, Sheets, or Clothes
You will need old towels, sheets, or clothes to soak up the sewage. Ideally, you should throw these items away after removing raw sewage from your basement. If you do not have enough throwaway items, consider purchasing clothing or towels from a secondhand store.
Buckets and Small Gardening Shovels
These items are necessary for picking up larger masses of solid matter. Make sure to get something sturdy as you don’t want these to give out while you’re removing sewage backup in basement rooms.
At some point during the process, you’ll arrive at a stage where large bits have been removed but too much standing water exists for a towel to be effective. A shop or wet/dry vacuum is great for absorbing puddles and negotiating smaller areas such as when removing sewage backup in basement floor drain regions.
Fans and Dehumidifiers
Eventually, you will likely find that there is moisture which is quite difficult to remove with a towel. After removing sewage in your basement, you’ll need to dry out the area.
Heavy Duty Garbage Bags
Another thing you’ll need to consider is where you’re going to put items soaked with sewage. Heavy duty garbage bags are best at preventing leaks. While they cost more than regular bags, they also hold more too. They are often marketed as contractor garbage bags. Depending on what items were destroyed, you may need to rent a dumpster. If your neighbors were also affected, discuss splitting the cost of a dumpster rental.
Personal Protection Equipment
In addition to cleaning supplies, you will also need to protect yourself while cleaning up. If you have open wounds, use waterproof bandages to prevent from getting an infection. In addition to pants and long sleeves, you should wear tall rubber boots, rubber gloves, a ventilator, and eye protection. Alternatively, you may consider wearing waders.
Take Precautions Before Cleaning Up a Basement Sewage Backup
Most utilities enter your home through the basement, so take precautions before you begin cleaning up sewage in the basement. Check for electrical issues like buzzing, sparks, or smoke and do not enter your basement if the water line is above electrical outlets. While it may be difficult, try to smell for a gas leak.
If you see any signs of electrical or gas line problems, vacate your property immediately and call the fire department and the utility company for assistance. Do not re-enter the property until a professional has repaired the issue and given you the all clear.
If the basement appears safe to enter, proceed with caution. You should always turn off your main water shut off valve to prevent more sewage from backing up. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may also want to shut off your gas and electricity as well.
How to Clean Up Sewage in Basement Areas
Once you’ve collected these items and put on your protective gear, it’s time to begin restoring your basement. Open the windows to let the house air out some and make sure to leave yourself a clear path get out of the house. You may
Next, remove as much sewage and standing water as possible. Depending on how deep the sewage in your basement is, use a bucket to bail it out. Avoid pouring sewage down your drain, as it may cause another sewage backup. Once you’ve removed the majority of the sewage, you can begin to remove furniture or other items.
When a majority of large items and standing water has been removed from the basement, you’ll want to start removing semi-solid masses. Yes, you will likely need to scoop out rather undesirable items that made their way into the basement during the episode. Quite often, there will be sediment in these circumstances such as dirt, sand, or feces.
After removing the majority of the sludge, use a wet/dry vacuum to remove smaller puddles. Most of these devices can handle debris so don’t worry much when sucking up other bits of waste, so long as whatever you’re trying to absorb fits through the hose opening.
Finally, use towels or old clothes to absorb as much left over moisture as possible. When you’ve completed, plug in your fans and dehumidifier. Keep in mind, sometimes this process can take in excess of a week, depending on the basement.
Disinfecting After a Sewage Backup in the Basement
Once you have removed the raw sewage from your basement and the area is dry, you need to clean and disinfect everything. Start by cleaning everything with warm water and soap. Then wipe them down with a mixture of bleach and water and move them to a clean place. It’s helpful to clean and disinfect small items first, then work up to bigger items. You may also want to work in zones.
Unfortunately, carpeting and furniture can be difficult to disinfect after a sewer backup. Furniture items made of wood, particle board, and fabric will soak up sewage. While cleaning and disinfecting the surface is possible, it’s much harder to clean the structural parts inside the furniture. Carpeting and carpet padding should always be disposed of after a sewer backup in the basement.
Once the room is empty, clean the walls thoroughly with warm water and soap followed by a bleach solution. If sewage soaked into the walls, it may be necessary to cut out the drywall and replace it. When replacing drywall, remember to disinfect the wall studs first to prevent mold problems in the future. Finally, mop the floors first with a detergent and then with bleach to ensure it’s clean and disinfected.
Is a Sewage Backup Covered by Insurance?
While you should document the scene and call your agent immediately, most sewage backups are not covered by standard insurance policies. Sewage backups are typically considered groundwater incidents and the most major policies do not include groundwater coverage. Groundwater or sewage backup cover may be available, so review your policy and contact your agent for more information. Additionally, federal relief money may be available after widespread natural disasters.
Professional Sewage Removal and Clean Up
If cleaning up after a sewage backup on your own is too much, Restoration Local will help. We connect homeowners and property managers with experienced water damage restoration contractors in your area. They have the training and equipment to remove sewage from a basement quickly and then restore the area to its original condition.
Find a sewage removal company now or call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with the on-call restoration specialist in your area. All on-call Restoration Local contractors provide 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response time, and a free, no-obligation estimate on sewage removal and basement restoration.