Sewer Backups: It's a "Dirty" Subject!

Sewer water can contain all types of toxic and hazardous contaminants. Having your property properly cleaned and restored can help ensure the health and safety of your family and or/employees. The following are answers to the most frequently asked question regarding sewer backups. Hopefully this information can help prevent or minimize the size and scope of a sewer loss.

Is it safe for my family to inhabit the property after a sewer backup?

Answer: NO! Water that comes from a sewer system needs to be treated as a hazardous health situation. Category 3, also known as “black water,” is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents.

Sewer water can contain all types of toxic and hazardous contaminants. Having your property properly cleaned and restored can help ensure the health and safety of your family and or/employees. The following are answers to the most frequently asked question regarding sewer backups. Hopefully this information can help prevent or minimize the size and scope of a sewer loss.

Is it safe for my family to inhabit the property after a sewer backup?

Answer: NO! Water that comes from a sewer system needs to be treated as a hazardous health situation. Category 3, also known as “black water,” is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents.

Question: What are the common hazards associated with sewer backups?

Answer: According to the IICRC there are over 120 different viruses that can be excreted in human feces and urine and find their way into sewage. These can include Rotovirus, causing severe and sometimes life-threatening diarrhea in children. Adenoviruses, causing respiratory and eye infections,  Norovirus, a significant cause of gastric flu or stomach flu .

There are also highly infectious parasitic agents like Giardia and Cryptosporidium that can cause chronic and severe intestinal diseases in both children and adults. Bacterial pathogens in sewage can include Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia coli (commonly known as e coli). These gram-negative organisms contain Endotoxins  that are released at the time of cell death and destruction.  Endotoxins can cause respiratory inflammation, airway restriction, create potential allergic and infectious disease responses, and when inhaled they may adversely influence the central nervous system.

Can I just clean up a sewer backup myself?

Answer: Not recommended!  Using improper remediation techniques to clean and restore property can cause even  bigger problems. In fact, it’s possible to spread the contaminated sewer problem from one room to another quite easily. Knowing how to remove and clean a sewer backup is essential for the successful restoration of your property. Burke ER’s professional staff of Service Technicians are certified to clean up after a sewage loss.

Why can’t I use bleach to clean up a sewer backup and save myself some money?

Answer: Bleach is a very poor solution for cleaning up after a sewer backup. It may do a good job making stains disappear, however, it does a poor job of making the contamination of  sewer  (category 3 water) disappear. The label on a bottle of bleach may say “Kills 99% of common household germs,” but contamination from sewer water does not fall under the category of “common household germs.” We have had customers who attempted to clean a sewer backup using bleach, only to have a certified industrial hygienist later inspect the home and still find high levels of contamination.

What household items can I keep after a sewer backup?

Answer: In general, we recommend that anything that came in contact or possibly came in contact with sewer water be disposed. Hard surface items that don’t absorb can be cleaned and restored. Due to the many health hazards associated with sewer backups we like to operate on the premise: “If in doubt, do without!” We suggest asking yourself, “Is keeping this item worth my health and/or the health of my family members?”

How can I really be sure that everything has been properly cleaned and sanitized?

Answer: The only way to know for certain if a sewer backup has been successfully restored is to have the affected area tested. We recommend the services of a certified industrial hygienist who is independent.  Burke ER can recommend the services of several qualified independent hygienists.

Who will cover the cost of a sewer backup?

Answer: The property owner assumes the expense of the sewage backup restoration process. For this reason we suggest that you make certain your homeowner’s insurance policy covers sewer backups.

Whether it’s water damage, fire & smoke, mold or biohazard cleanup you can rely on the professionals at Burke Emergency Restoration. We bring damaged properties back to life.™

Burke Emergency Restoration services Belknap, Merrimack, Strafford, Hillsborough and Rockingham Counties in New Hampshire, Essex and Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts, and York County in Maine.

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