Sewage Cleanup: Not Your Typical Water Damage Situation

Sewage Cleanup

No matter how much you may know about water damage inside a house, sewage cleanup is different. Most everything about a standard water damage incident becomes more urgent, more complex, and more hazardous when the source is a backed-up sewer line. Raw sewage—appropriately called “black water” by water damage professionals—is teeming with toxic bacteria and viruses that can turn formerly clean, safe indoor living spaces into a contaminated danger zone. From guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency down to local health department recommendations, the informed consensus is that sewage cleanup inside a house is definitely not an appropriate do-it-yourself project.   

Rapid response by professionals certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration (IICRC) and specially equipped for sewage cleanup is critical. Delay can be dangerous as airborne pathogens released by raw sewage rapidly spread infection throughout the premises. After an initial survey to determine the scope of contamination, the process of sewage cleanup generally follows this sequence: 

  • Absorbent materials or objects contacted by sewage are non-salvageable and must be disposed of. These include carpets and padding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, curtains, wet books, and papers, etc. Clothes, towels, and linens can usually be retained for cleaning and disinfection.
  • Porous structural components that have absorbed wastewater cannot be decontaminated and must also be removed: saturated drywall, baseboard trim, paneling, insulation inside walls, and similar materials. If standing black water has penetrated below flooring, the flooring material may also require removal during sewage cleanup.
  • Any remaining wastewater must be removed from structural spaces utilizing pumps and extractors, if necessary. The solid or semi-solid waste matter often present in sewage has to be removed manually, securely bagged, and disposed of according to EPA and/or local regulations.
  • Non-porous surfaces such as hard floors are scrubbed and then treated with EPA-specified disinfectants.  
  • High-volume air movers and dehumidifiers are run continuously to fully dry the premises as rapidly as possible. This is often followed by a second application of disinfectants and deodorants to affected surfaces.
  • New structural materials are installed to replace contaminated material removed during the cleanup procedure.

Tags: , ,

Return to the Blog Home Page