How to Clean Sewage Backup in the Basement: 10 Critical Steps

Author: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Last modified: March 13, 2019

Last Updated on

Whether it comes up through floor drains or backs up into sinks, you smell it first. The stench of sewage in the basement is unmistakeable. Once you figure out the cause and address repairs, you’re still facing an unhealthy mess.

Do you know how to clean sewage backup in the basement?

This isn’t an ordinary DIY job. We know because we take care of raw sewage cleanup in basements all across Chicago. The causes range from tree root damage to clogged sewer lines, but the results are always the same: a hazardous situation. You need to be prepared.

sewage in basement

Cleaning Up Raw Sewage in the Basement: 10 Must-Do Steps

Knowing how to clean up raw sewage in the basement starts with understanding the risks. Utility lines coming into a wet basement can be very dangerous. If you have any doubts about your safety, contact the city’s utility companies immediately, and have them shut off your electricity and gas.

If sewage backup hasn’t affected basement connections and outlets, follow these 10 cleanup steps. Our guidelines are meant for small jobs only.

1. Protect Yourself First

Sewage cleanup exposes you to highly contaminated black water, so suit up in personal protection gear before you get started. You’ll need rubber gloves and boots, goggles, a face mask and water-resistant coveralls.

2. Identify and Drain

Identify the problem that caused the sewage backup. If you can’t handle repairs, call a professional right away. If the sump pump is operational, back it up by removing water with buckets or a large-capacity shop vac.

3. Clear Out Everything

Move out everything affected by sewage water. Address sludge and debris left behind with push brooms and shovels. Clear away as much as possible. You want to expose all surfaces that need cleaning and disinfecting.

4. Finish With a Wet Vac

If you have electricity in the basement, remove remaining dirty water with a wet vac. Only use the equipment if you can plug it into a grounded outlet. Make two or three passes over all areas.

Power Tip: Don’t dispose of contaminated water down drains. Instead, dump wet vac contents into a toilet.

5. Scrub and Rinse

Scrub down all surfaces affected by sewage backup. Basement floors, walls and steps need to be washed with hot water and a low sudsing detergent and rinsed with clear, hot water.

Power Tip: Increase efficiency and minimize contamination by working areas from top to bottom.

6. Sanitize All Surfaces

If a surface has been in contact with sewage water, it has to be sanitized. Disinfect washed and rinsed basement areas by treating them with a mixture of 1 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water.

Power Tip: For best results sanitizing floors, use a large, sturdy push broom instead of a mop.

7. Check the Sump Pump

Make sure the sump pump is still in good working condition. A sewage backup in the basement can overwork and even shut down the equipment. If you’re not comfortable with DIY sump pump maintenance, bring in a professional.

8. Get Yourself Cleaned Up

Thoroughly wash down and sanitize your protective gear. Don’t try to save wet clothes or cleaning rags. Dirty items can contaminate other belongings. Take a hot shower, and use plenty of antibacterial soap or body wash.

9. Start Drying the Basement

If the weather cooperates, open basement windows. Position box fans in corners to create cross-ventilation, and set up a heavy-duty dehumidifier. Give the drying process at least three days to completely finish.

10. Check for Mold

Sewage backup in the basement sets up ideal conditions for a bad mold outbreak. As well as you clean up the mess, traces of moisture and contaminants can feed unhealthy fungal growth. Always check the basement for mold after any type of flooding.

Sewage Backup in the Basement: Dangerous Health Risks

It’s very important to recognize the health risks you face when you take on DIY sewage cleanup in the basement. You’re dealing with contaminated water that carries disease-causing pathogens and dangerous bacteria.

Before attempting any raw sewage spill cleanup, ask yourself:

• Does the size of the project worry you?
• Do you have any existing health problems?
• Are you uneasy about taking adequate safety precautions?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, contact an experienced restoration company. Put basement sewage cleanup in the hands of industry-trained professionals.

Don’t Take Any Chances

Our guidelines are meant for small projects, but some cleanup jobs are just too much even for the bravest DIY warrior. Sewage spills in the basement is a hazardous challenge, and poses many health risks, so don’t take any chances.

We’re always available with expert sewer backup cleaning services for Chicago and the suburbs. Our teams are certified and fully equipped to handle any type of sewage cleanup. If you have doubts about doing it yourself, call ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. Let us handle the dirty work.

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