Skip to main content

Sewage backup in a basement is not only messy and unpleasant but also poses serious health risks due to potential contamination. Prompt and proper cleanup is essential to mitigate health hazards and prevent further damage to your home and your loved ones. Whether you’re considering tackling the cleanup yourself or hiring a professional restoration company, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to clean up sewage backup in the basement.

Understanding the Situation

Before you start cleaning up, take a moment to assess the situation. When you notice sewage backup in a basement, whether you notice it as it is happening or find out about it as you walk in the door, it is important to make sure that you are safe before jumping directly into damage control. 

  • Prioritize Safety: Make sure to turn off the electricity in the affected area to avoid any potential electrocution accidents. We all know that electricity and water don’t mix but when you see sewage building up around your basement and engulfing your valuables it is enough to make anyone throw common sense and caution to the wind and spring into action without thinking. 
  • Assess the Mess: Determine the level of contamination in the sewage backup. If it’s Category 3 water (black water), which contains harmful pathogens, extra precautions are needed. Blackwater is essentially water that has been in toilets so it is water that has been contaminated with human waste.
  • Check the Damage: Take a look around to see how far the sewage backup has spread and what items have been affected.

DIY Cleanup Techniques

Sewage backup can range from sever backup with blackwater contamination to small amounts of flooding with greywater that are noticed before they become a large issue. For those who For those considering a do-it-yourself approach, here are steps and techniques to clean up sewage backup in the basement:

  1. Gear Up: Put on protective gear like gloves, boots, and a mask to keep yourself safe from harmful pathogens. The last thing you want to do is expose your skin, any open wounds, your eyes or lungs to contaminated water. 
  2. Contain the Mess: Block off the affected area to prevent sewage from spreading to other parts of the basement. If you are able to divert water towards a drain in the basement do it as quickly as possible.
  3. Remove Standing Water: Use a wet/dry vacuum or a submersible pump to get rid of the standing sewage water. If the flooding is rather larger a submersible pump, like the ones used in ponds, can be a fast and effective way to get rid of water as they can often be used with a hose that can be fed outside. Wet/dry vacuums can fill up with water quickly and be cumbersome to up a set of stairs when full. 
  4. Dispose of Contaminated Items: Get rid of porous materials like carpets and upholstery that have been contaminated. Non-porous items can be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly.
  5. Scrub and Disinfect: Clean all surfaces with a mixture of water and bleach or a commercial disinfectant to kill any bacteria and pathogens. Some people just focus on getting their basement dry and forget to properly disinfect. 
  6. Air it Out: Increase ventilation by opening windows and using fans to help dry out the area. Dehumidifiers can also be useful for removing excess moisture.

Hiring a Professional Restoration Company

While DIY cleanup can be feasible for minor incidents, severe sewage backup in the basement may warrant professional intervention. Here’s how a restoration company would handle the situation compared to a DIYer:

  1. Specialized Equipment: Restoration companies have access to specialized equipment such as high-powered water extractors, industrial-strength disinfectants, and air scrubbers, enabling them to tackle sewage cleanup more efficiently and effectively.
  2. Expertise and Training: Professionals are trained and experienced in handling sewage backup cleanup, including proper containment, disinfection, and disposal of contaminated materials. They adhere to industry standards and safety protocols to ensure thorough and safe cleanup. This can give you peace of mind that not only is the mess contained but that harmful materials and pathogens won’t be spread through your home. 
  3. Odor Removal: Restoration companies utilize advanced techniques and equipment to effectively eliminate odors associated with sewage backup, ensuring that your basement is not only clean but also doesn’t have any lingering odors or scents that keep you from enjoying your basement. 
  4. Insurance Assistance: Dealing with insurance claims for sewage cleanup can be complex, but restoration companies often assist homeowners in navigating the insurance process, ensuring they receive the coverage they are entitled to for restoration services. The last thing we want you to have to deal with is the stress of working with your insurance company to receive the assistance you deserve. 
  5. Comprehensive Restoration: Beyond cleanup, professional restoration companies offer comprehensive services such as structural drying, mold remediation, and repairs to restore your basement to its pre-damage condition.

Cleaning up sewage backup in the basement is a challenging and potentially hazardous task that requires careful attention to safety and sanitation. Whether you choose to tackle the cleanup yourself or enlist the help of a professional restoration company, it’s essential to act promptly and effectively to mitigate health risks and prevent further damage to your home. By following the steps outlined in this guide and considering the advantages of professional assistance, you can ensure a thorough and successful cleanup process, restoring your basement to a safe and healthy environment. Remember, when dealing with sewage backup, safety should always be the top priority.