Sewage Backup in My Retail Location: What Do I Do?

Author: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Last Updated on

Getting the alarm from an employee is bad enough. It’s even worse when a customer tells you that you have a sewage backup problem at your restaurant or retail location. You apologize with assurances that you’ll take care of it right away. Do you know what to do?

This isn’t an ordinary plumbing failure. Its potential to permanently damage your retail property is enormous. We’ve put together this overview with pointers that can reduce the risk of a sewage overflow at your business, and we’ve included an action plan to help you deal with it in case the worst does happen.

Sewer Backups – Causes and Prevention

Most sewage overflows happen because of blockage in the lateral line from your building to the main sewer. Tree roots invade pipes, and lines become clogged with debris. Problems also occur in older plumbing systems as aging pipes develop cracks or shift underground. Heavy equipment on your property can compress the soil over sewer lines and cause pipes to buckle.

It’s important to remember that you’re responsible for the line that runs from your building to the main sewer. Most problems that cause blocked pipes develop over time, so we suggest these strategies to minimize the risk of damage from sewer backups at your commercial property.

• Invest in an annual inspection by a plumbing professional. He identifies and resolves blockage problems before they turn into costly flooding that can ruin your building’s interior.

• Ask your plumber about installing a water pressure reducing valve to ease the stress on your plumbing’s network. This device also helps hold down annual water costs.

• Pop-up sewer release valves don’t stop a backup, but they effectively reroute flooding to the grounds around your building. Again, talk to a professional about your options.

Immediate Problems and Long-Term Damage

Even if sewage backup is contained in a small area like a tiled restroom, it needs immediate cleanup and decontamination. Without proper sanitation techniques, employees and customers are exposed to immediate health risks. When contaminated water seeps through flooring and saturates walls, it quickly creates a dangerous environment in your building.

Soaked wood, sheetrock, carpet and furnishings become breeding grounds for unhealthy mold growth that spreads rapidly. The concerns of long-term exposure to hidden mold are well-documented, and its presence compromises the structural integrity of building materials at your restaurant or commercial property.

The odors left over from sewage flooding are hard to eliminate. The foul smells permeate porous material and furnishings, and they can linger indefinitely. Combined with the musty smell of growing mold, sewage backup odors create an atmosphere that negatively affects customers and employees.

How to Handle a Sewage Overflow

sewage backup toilet overflowing

The water that backs up in a sewer line overflows toilets, but the surge can push up through drains in floors and sinks. Even if the flooding is limited, sewer water is contaminated with bacteria and viruses. While you can address small cleanups by yourself, it’s very important to take precautions.

• Evacuate everyone from the affected area right away. Floors soaked with sewage backup pose serious slipping hazards, so close off the area to all foot traffic.

• If the spillage is contained to non-porous surfaces, wash everything down with a solution of one-quarter cup of chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of warm water.

• Always be careful to never mix different cleaning products. Ammonia and chlorine bleach are a deadly combination that produce very toxic gases.

• Raw sewage is a dangerous waste. If the overflow covers a large area or soaks porous materials like sheetrock, wood flooring and carpeting, call in a professional water damage restoration service.

• Disconnect nearby equipment to reduce the chance of electrocution. If large areas of your building are affected, turn off electric and gas mains.

• Take pictures of flooded areas. This documentation gives you an accurate assessment of the immediate damage, and it helps when dealing with your insurance company.

The Advantages of a Professional Restoration Service

Any sewage backup at a restaurant or retail location can shut down business. You want the doors open as soon as possible, but you also want a safe interior environment. A professional restoration service answers emergency calls and responds with the personnel and equipment necessary to handle this type of specialized cleanup.

A certified, full-service restoration contractor with highly trained teams takes care of more than just initial cleaning. The source of the backup is identified, qualified professionals take care of repairs, and industry-proven techniques are put to work drying, dehumidifying and sanitizing all affected areas.

The restoration process addresses dangerous mold problems and structural damage as well as the removal of contaminated materials. A professional restoration service can also help you navigate the paperwork involved in the insurance claims process.

Call Us First

sewage backup dessicant truck

Regular maintenance and timely repairs are smart strategies for keeping sewer lines from backing up. However, plumbing disasters happen on the best-kept properties. Having an action plan in place to deal with a sudden problem is your best defense against long-term property damage and lost business.

If you have any questions about our overview, just let us know in our Comments section below. It’s our goal to share and provide you with as much useful information as possible.

You can count on us 24/7 to answer your call if a sewer line backup disrupts business at your retail location. We also address restaurant sewer backup, and service high-rises with teams that provide professional water damage restoration services across Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

When you need help right away, contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba first.