How to Manage Sewage Backups in Your Home

Sewage backups can cause costly damage to your home, as well as have an impact on your health should you be exposed. There are a number of different causes of sewage backup, as mentioned here; the linked article also provides recommended solutions depending on the nature of your problem. Overall, in the vast majority of cases, cleanup by a professional is recommended to properly ensure the damage is removed.

However, first, you need to identify the warning signs, as well as section of your home to ensure that the damage will be mitigated before your local treatment company can arrive. Primary warning signs are pools of water around any drains (i.e. shower, sink, and don’t forget to check any basement drains), as well as water backlog from your toilet or shower, and of course, this is often accompanied by unpleasant odors.

Once you’ve identified that the problem is sewage related, you should immediately section off the damage from the rest of your home. To start, ensure that all family members, in particular children and pregnant women as they will be most susceptible to contaminants, are evacuated from your home to prevent any illness. The second step is to get an understanding of the extent of the damage. Of course, if the damage is extremely severe and permeates through your entire home, at this point you should also evacuate and let professionals handle it.

To obtain a sense of where the damage is, it’s recommended that you first note where the water is backed up (i.e. basement versus bathroom). Then, if it can be contained in one room, we recommend sealing off that room to the best of your abilities. For example, ensure doors are closed and sealed with fabric or towels to section off any leaks from the rest of your home.

Provided damage is minimal, you can begin cleanup yourself. We recommend:

  • Wet-vacuuming or removal of spillage
  • Mopping floors and wiping walls with soap and disinfectant
  • Flushing out and disinfecting plumbing fixtures
  • Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets or drapes
  • Repairing or removing damaged wallboard or wall coverings
  • Cleanup of ductwork

A number of the above may require a professional depending on your skill level. So we recommend you complete what you can with your knowledge and tools available, and hire a handyman for the rest.

Lastly, to ensure you are able to recover funds for your sewer backup insurance claim, take “before” photos of your basement (or any area likely to be affected), and create a home inventory. That way, if there is damage, you can easily take “after” photos for comparison and ensure you are able to claim the full amount of insurance owed for the damage.
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