How To Fix Sewage Backup

How To Fix Sewage Backup

Sewage backups can be extremely unpleasant and hazardous events. When wastewater backs up into homes and businesses, it brings with it health risks from bacteria and potential damage from flooding. Quick action is required to stop the backup, clean up properly, and prevent future problems. With some knowledge of plumbing systems and the right equipment, many sewage backups can be resolved without professional assistance. Let’s walk through the step-by-step process for assessing the situation and restoring things to normal.

What to Do When Sewage Backs Up?

When sewage backs up, the initial response should be severing the flow, contacting utilities if public lines are involved, plugging drains, and using absorbents for containment. Assess how far sewage spread and what materials are affected. Attempt to extract sewage and sanitize minor exposures. Call professional restoration services for disinfection, drying, and repairs when necessary.

Assessing Sewage Backup Severity

When sewage has backed up into a building, the first priority is to stop the flow. We’ll want to shut off water supply lines and any appliances that use water, like washing machines and dishwashers. If the backup came from the public sewer line, the local utility provider will need to be contacted to investigate and stop the main line backup.

Next we determine how far the wastewater has spread. Containing the sewage quickly is ideal to minimize soaked materials, absorption into porous surfaces, and overflow into additional areas. The extent of the backup and sewage exposure will determine the clean up efforts needed.

If floodwaters rose more than an inch or spread past a small area, professional water extraction and sanitizing will likely be needed. Category 3 water damage from sewage requires special equipment to remove moisture and sanitize properly.

Minor backups may be manageable through personal efforts if wastewater exposure was very limited. We’ll still want to act swiftly and methodically for health safety.

How to Fix Sewage Backup?

The process for fixing a sewage backup has three main steps: stopping the ongoing backup, containing and assessing exposure, and repairing damage and preventing future incidents. To stop a backup, sever flow by plugging drains and contacting utilities. Containment involves absorbing and extracting sewage, then scrubbing and disinfecting affected materials. Repairing may require professional restoration services, drain repairs, protective equipment installation, and regular maintenance.

Stopping An Ongoing Backup

When sewage is still actively backing up, the first priority is stopping the flow. For minor clogs, plunging can be attempted. Otherwise, the main sewer line will need to be blocked off to halt the rising wastewater.

If the clog is in the home’s lateral line between the house and public system, it can be blocked with a inflatable stopper. Inserting this upstream of the clog and inflating it will obstruct the pipe.

For public main line backups, the local utility provider must be contacted immediately. They can send someone to insert flow stoppers in the main line and address any blockages.

Once a backup is stopped, containment and damage assessment can begin. Absorbent materials like towels can help contain the sewage. Any drains or toilets still able to drain should be plugged. Pumping equipment can be used to remove any standing water.

Assessing and Reducing Sewage Exposure

With the wastewater stopped, our focus turns to assessing what areas have been exposed. Any materials that absorbed sewage or came into direct contact need to be cleaned and disinfected or discarded if severely contaminated.

Areas with minor exposure can sometimes be remediated by homeowners. Water extraction, scrubbing with detergent, disinfecting, and thorough drying may be sufficient. Anything with mildew, deep saturation, or signs of structural damage should be handled by restoration professionals.

For spaces with drywall, baseboards, cabinets, and other permanent materials affected, removal and replacement is often needed. Contaminated porous materials act as reservoirs for bacteria and mold. The longer wastewater sits, the further it soaks in. Swift cleanup is crucial.

Ventilation with fans and dehumidifiers helps dry areas. Absorbents like baking soda can be sprinkled before vacuuming. Surfaces are scrubbed and disinfected with products effective against sewage organisms. Bleach solutions, oxygen bleach, lime, or commercial disinfectants specifically designed for category 3 water remediation can be used.

Preventing Disease from Sewage Exposure

Coming into contact with raw sewage poses a range of health risks. Gastroenteritis, hepatitis A, E. coli, Salmonella, Streptococcus, and other illnesses can be contracted from exposure. Anyone with open cuts or wounds exposed to wastewater should see a doctor promptly in case antibiotics are needed.

Children, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for infection. They should avoid the affected area until remediation is complete. In some cases, sewage exposure may warrant inoculations against Hepatitis A or other diseases.

Protective gear like rubber boots, gloves, goggles, and suits should be worn during cleanup. All contaminated materials being removed must be sealed in bags for disposal rather than dumped in other trash receptacles.

Long Term Repairs After Sewage Backups

Once the immediate crisis of a sewage backup is addressed, we’ll want to assess the plumbing to prevent future occurrences. Signs of leaking, corrosion, blockages, or foundation settling around pipes should be investigated. A plumber can run cameras through lines to identify trouble spots.

Repairs like pipe patching, drain relining, or rooter services may be needed if significant blockages or damage are found. The lateral line from house to public connection as well as any home drain lines should be inspected.

Some recurring backup scenarios can be reduced with preventative installations like backflow valves and overhead sewers. Backflow valves allow flow out to the sewer main but prevent backups from entering the property. Overhead sewers route plumbing lines above ground level.

Addressing root intrusions, grease buildup, leaks, and other maintenance issues provides ongoing protection. Any potential causes on the property owners side should be identified and corrected. Keeping rainwater and groundwater from infiltrating sewer lines will help prevent overflows during wet weather.

Remediating Flooded Areas

When sewage has saturated carpets, walls, furniture, or other materials, professional restoration is often needed. The appropriate response depends on the extent and type of flooding.

For minor saturation of floors, walls, and other hard surfaces, professional cleaning may sufficient if done promptly before bacteria takes hold. For carpets, padding, and porous materials, removal and replacement is typically required.

If drywall was soaked from flooding, the lower several feet of wall covering usually must be cut out and replaced. Permanent discoloration and bacterial reservoirs will develop if not addressed.

With furniture, what can be salvaged depends on materials and how soon drying happens. Upholstered furniture, mattresses, and other absorbent items typically have to be discarded after sewage contamination. Surfaces and crevices trap moisture and microorganisms.

Professional restoration contractors have specialized disinfectants, mold inhibitors, dehumidifiers, and drying equipment to remediate materials after water damage. The goal is to extract sewage, sanitize, and thoroughly dry areas to prevent further issues. Prompt attention after flooding gives the best chance of restoring a space.

Is It Safe to Stay in a House With Sewage Backup?

It is generally not advised to remain in a home with an active sewage backup or contamination. The wastewater presents bacteria risks and release of dangerous gases. Ventilate the area and contact professionals to stop the backup. Don’t return until sewage is cleaned up and disinfected using appropriate antimicrobial techniques, ensuring no lingering health hazards.

How Long Does It Take to Fix a Backed Up Sewer?

The time to fix a backed up sewer depends on the severity and location of the clog. Minor household clogs may resolve quickly with snaking. Major blockages can take several hours to locate and clear. Repairing sewer pipe damage can take days if replacement is needed. Stopping an active overflow is the priority before fully fixing underlying issues. Contact a professional plumber for serious sewer clogs or persistent backups.

When to Call for Sewage Cleanup Assistance

While some minor backups may be manageable through personal efforts, most sewage spills into buildings require professional assistance. The experts have the right equipment and products to properly sanitize, extract water, and restore flooded materials.

Any exposure beyond easily replaceable items requires a restoration company experienced specifically with category 3 hazards. They can ensure harmful organisms are neutralized rather than spread through improper drying and cleaning.

Extensive sewage flooding involving drywall removal, carpet disposal, furniture restoration, and cleaning underneath flooring necessitates hiring professional mitigation services. They can properly remediate affected areas and prevent secondary water damage or mold growth issues.

For major sewage flooding involving standing water over large areas, always call for assistance immediately to start the remediation process. Limited exposures can sometimes be self-managed if contained quickly. When in doubt, hire the professionals to mitigate risks and ensure proper restoration.

Preventing Future Sewage Backups

While occasional backups are often unavoidable due to issues in the public system, there are ways to reduce risks around the home. Regular drain maintenance, avoiding grease and detergent buildup, and installing protective equipment can help.

Sewer cleanouts should be accessible and kept clear of debris. Areas around cleanouts and plumbing vents should prevent rain and groundwater from entering. Downspouts and sump pumps shouldn’t connect to sewer lines.

Grease, fats, oils, and debris that collect in drain lines are common causes of clogs. Avoid pouring grease down sinks and limit food scrap disposals. Hot water and degreaser products can help clean drain lines. Professional hydrojetting clears serious buildup.

Backflow valves near the home’s connection to the public sewer can prevent backups from entering the property. Overhead sewers and drain line enhancements may also be warranted in homes with frequent issues. Addressing leaks, settling, root intrusions, and other defects provides ongoing protection.

By staying vigilant for signs of trouble and keeping drains flowing freely, we can be proactive against backups. But when sewage flooding does occur, immediate response helps restore things safely and limit lasting impacts.

For sewage backup cleanup and water damage restoration around North and Central Georgia, contact Southeast Water Restoration now!

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Southeast Water Restoration
Southeast Water Restoration specializes in water damage restoration, mold remediation, and 24/7 emergency services for water-related issues in Georgia. Expertly handling flood damage, pipe bursts, and sewage backups, we use state-of-the-art dehumidifiers and water extractors. Our IICRC-certified team ensures top standards in water damage repair and mold safety. We serve Athens, Buford, Monroe, Atlanta, Conyers, Cumming, Roswell, Marietta, East Cobb, Alpharetta, Gainesville, Dacula, Winder, Decatur, Lawrenceville, Sandy Springs, Hoschton, Big Creek, Loganville, and Buckhead. Our commitment to health and safety is paramount, addressing concerns like black mold and indoor air quality.

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