Sewage Backup and Cleanup Guidelines

Sewage Backup Cleanup Guidelines

Raw, untreated sewage poses a threat to human health. Cleanup should commence as soon as possible. Contact the Water Reclamation Division, your insurance agent, and proceed as follows: 

  1. Remove all water, sewage, and contaminated materials.
  2. Thoroughly clean and mop the area.
  3. Treat the flooded area with an appropriate disinfectant.
  4. Dehumidify.
  5. Replace all absorbent materials.
Precautions: During cleanup, protect yourself from contamination by wearing rubber boots, waterproof gloves, and protective garments. Wash your hands thoroughly when the job is done. Those persons whose immune systems are compromised are considered to be at greater risk and should not attempt this type of cleanup. Qualified professionals can be found in the yellow pages under carpet and rug cleaners.

Chemical disinfection: The process of disinfection is important to insure the elimination of pathogens (disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that are present in raw sewage. Thorough cleaning must take place before disinfection to insure the effectiveness. Remember to follow manufacturer's label instructions and use in areas with adequate ventilation.
Type of disinfectant:  Suggested strength:
quaternary ammonium compounds 0.4-1.6%
phenolic 0.5-5%
household bleach 1:10-1:100
(usually 1 oz. to 1 gal. water)

Removal of materials: All absorbent materials which have been exposed to sewage contamination, such as rugs and carpets, wall covering, cloth and Sheetrock, should be removed and cleaned off site or replaced as part of the cleaning process. Water-damaged and contaminated mattresses and other stuffed items which are not recoverable should be discarded.

Area rugs and wall-to-wall carpet that have been extensively saturated with sewage backup are unlikely to be effectively cleaned and restored on site. Such rugs and carpets, along with the pad, should be removed. If an effort is made to restore the carpet, extensive cleaning and disinfection of the carpet should take place. Carpet pads should be replaced. Subflooring should be dried and disinfected before carpet and rugs are returned.

Food that has come into contact with sewage backflow:
  • Unopened canned food can be used after thoroughly cleaning and swabbing the container with a chlorine/water solution.
  • Screw-top containers that have been submerged should not be used.
  • No raw fruits or vegetables should be used if they have been contaminated with sewage water.
  • If there is a question whether the food product was contaminated, do not use it.