Raw sewage backed up into your home or office can pose a serious threat to your property and to your own health. The damage caused to the structure itself is of no minor consequence to deal with, however, the hazards that raw sewage present to your health are even more dangerous.
Don’t underestimate sewage as an easy cleanup problem, sewage carries all kinds of virus and bacteria that can cause serious illness. At any time, you are dealing with raw sewage it is important that you wear protective clothing and gloves on your hands, goggles for your eyes and a respirator for breathing. Also, when removing items contaminated by sewage they must be disposed of in accordance with your local city and/or state regulations.
Most areas allow you to dispose of carpeting, padding and other items in a local landfill, but raw sewage must be disposed of in a sanitary sewer system. You should never dispose of raw sewage anywhere else, because this can be a major health hazard for others and can also carry very large penalties with the State health departments and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Pregnant women, women who are nursing, babies, young children, elderly and anyone with immune deficiency or health issues should not be in any area where sewage damages have occurred. These areas should be contained using at least 6 milliliter plastic vapor barriers and HEPA air scrubbing units.
To clean up raw sewage in summary:
1. Extract all standing sewage from the flooring, bath tubs, or shower using a vacuum system that has a filtration device to catch items you would normally put in a toilet. These items will clog up a shop vac. Never use a regular floor vacuum cleaner to clean sewage. Contents which can be salvaged should be stored for later cleaning.
2. Remove all wet carpeting, baseboards, drywall, wood flooring, vinyl flooring and throw them away. Water has a way of working its way under your flooring and into the walls. Because we are dealing with sewage contaminated water, all materials touched by it must be removed and thrown out, not just cleaned. Also, sewage water is highly prone to mold growth because of its high level of contamination. Therefore, porous materials such as carpet or wood flooring will hold in bacteria which could cause future smells and possible health hazards.
3. Begin cleaning the remaining structural items such as concrete flooring and wood frame work using antimicrobial disinfectants to clean all affected areas only when all contaminated materials have been disposed of. After all areas are clean, it is a good idea to clean them again. You can never be too clean.
4. After all cleaning has been completed and you are sure the affected areas are completely disinfected and sanitary, a complete dry-out of all exposed framework and flooring is necessary using dehumidifiers and air movers. This will rule out any possibility of mold growth. The speed of drying depends on amount of saturation caused from the backup and the amount/type of drying equipment used. The average dry time is 3 days for most materials. Once everything is completely dry, you will be ready for reconstruction.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover sewage loss. Check with your insurance agent beforehand to verify that your policy does cover losses such as these. If your home has experienced raw sewage backup, rely on a professionally licensed company to clean up and put your mind at ease. If you have any questions at all, please call us 801-566-1577 for more information.