What to Do First When the Sewer Backs Up

You just found out that your home has a sewer backup. Even though it’s messy and can be highly hazardous if you attempt to deal with it yourself, don’t let it ruin your day! There are highly trained professionals that can help you mitigate the risks associated with raw sewage.

Raw sewage is classifed as a Category 3 contamination (the highest level) and can transmit disease-causing biohazards including viruses, bacteria and germs. That’s why the EPA recommends that professional clean-up and decontamination should be utilized for everything but the most minor, limited events.

The good news is that certified water damage remediation professionals have the training, experience and specialized equipment to restore your indoor environment to a safe, healthy state after a sewer backup. Meanwhile, here’s what you should do in the immediate aftermath:

  • Don’t go into a wet area of the house if sewage has contacted electrical outlets or other electrical sources until power has been shut off.
  • Keep all kids and pets out of the immediate area of the house affected by the backup.
  • If you must enter the affected area, wear protective glasses, gloves, a face mask and rubber boots.
  • Open windows and run fans to ventilate the area with fresh outdoor air.
  • Stop utilizing all plumbing that involves the household drain system. Don’t flush toilets. Don’t turn on water in sinks, showers, or bathtubs. Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Don’t attempt DIY efforts to resolve the problem with pour-in chemicals. They are not likely to get deep enough in the drain system to unclog a sewage blockage and the harsh acids utilized will damage pipes and sewer lines.
  • After the immediate crisis is resolved, contact a plumber to determine the cause for the blockage in order to prevent recurrence. Common possible issues include flushing unapproved paper or other materials down a toilet, tree roots invading sewer lines, collapsing sewer pipes, etc.

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