If you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate position of having a sewage backup in your basement, don’t panic. It’s probably the last thing you wanted as a homeowner, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster.
By following some simple steps, you can resolve the issue quickly and safely:
What to Do When Your Sewage Backs Up
First, there are some essential safety precautions to take when dealing with a sewage backup in your basement. If there’s basement flooding or water overflow, turn off the electricity in the flooded area.
Wear protective gear like a facemask and boots if you have to walk through sewage water. Shut off the main water line and avoid using your toilets and sinks for the time being to prevent toilet overflowing and further sewer backup.
Sewage backups are more than just unpleasant smelly messes. They can also be dangerous. Your family (including pets) should leave your home until the sewage removal is complete.
Once you’ve covered these things, you’re ready to safely begin fixing the problem.
What does it Mean When Sewage Backs Up in the basement?
When you have a sewage backup in your basement, it can mean many things. The most common explanation is that there is a problem with the main sewage drain line. When this happens, the sewage backs up into the basement because it’s the lowest point in the house, and those drains are the easiest means of escape for the excess water.
It could also be an individual clogged drain in the basement, which is likely the case if you are only getting back up in one drain.
What Causes a Sewage Backup?
Clogs, buildups in pipes from grease, or improperly flushed items like feminine products, are common causes of sewage backup. Damage to the sewer lines can also cause a sewage backup because it prevents water from flowing correctly. Finally, a strong storm with heavy rain can overwhelm the city sewer system with water and result in backups into people’s homes.
How to Fix Sewage Backup in Basement Floor Drains
When it comes to fixing sewer backups, there are some common questions: how do I unclog my main sewer line? Will Drano unclog sewer lines? Will Coca-Cola unclog a drain? How do you unclog a sewer line without a snake?
Some home remedies will work better than others. Pouring Drano or similar products down a drain can damage pipes or the glue holding them together, causing more sewer system problems in the future. The acidity in Coca-Cola can help clear a sewage backup but may leave a residue itself. A snake is a great tool to unclog plumbing fixtures, but if you don’t have one, you could use a hose or plunger to clear a clogged drain.
If you exhaust these options and still aren’t able to fix the sewage backup in your basement yourself, the necessary next step is to call a professional. A drainage problem is not likely to resolve itself and may even get worse, so make sure you call as quickly as possible.
So how much does it cost to unclog a main sewer line? These services will generally cost between $200 and $400, but if damaged pipes need to be replaced, the cost can rise into the thousands. ‘
Does Homeowner’s Insurance cover Sewer Backup?
Your homeowner’s insurance does not generally cover sewage backup. Extra insurance coverage for sewage backup is available for an additional cost. Check your policy for more information or check out the Insurance Information Institute.
How to Clean and Disinfect the Basement Floor After a Sewer Backup
Once you have the backup fixed, you’ll need to clean the affected area. Wearing protective equipment, remove residual water using a wet dry vacuum. If there isn’t too much standing water, you could also use old towels that you’re willing to throw away afterward or even paper towels. Make sure to remove as much sewage water as possible as this will help prevent mold.
After removing the water, Gather any solids with a broom or shovel and dispose of them, along with any unsalvageable items, in a thick garbage bag. Items like books and soft toys that came into contact with sewage should be thrown away.
Next, you’ll want to disinfect the area. Luckily, you should be able to use the cleaning products you already have in the house. For example, bleach kills the bacteria in sewage and after an initial cleaning with hot water and dish soap, you can and should use a bleach solution. Leave it for 20 minutes, then wash it away.
These cleaning steps will work on a hard floor, but carpeting is more complicated. In most cases, a carpet that has been covered in sewage water will need to be completely removed. If you choose to clean it, call a professional, and inform them of the situation so they can handle the carpet safely.
Sewage Backup in Your Basement Health Risks
Deep cleaning the area is essential to making your home livable and safe again. There are health risks associated with sewage leaks including exposure to dysentery, salmonellosis, and Hepatitis A.
The sewage smell can actually make you sick. There are toxic gases in sewage that can cause anything from irritation to organ damage and death.
Electrocution is also a major concern when dealing with the flooding associated with sewage backups. Make sure that you have shut off the gas and electricity before entering a flooded basement.
Can You Get Sick from Sewage Backup?
Sewage water is nothing to mess around with. If you find a sewage backup in your basement, it’s crucial to deal with it in a timely fashion because exposure to sewage can make you sick. But if you take safety precautions by wearing the right gear and deal with the sewer backup immediately, your risk of illness is much lower.
How to Stop Sewage Backup in the Future
After dealing with a sewage backup once, you’ll never want to have that experience again. Here are some steps you can take to prevent a recurrence.
Install new plastic pipes. If the problem that caused the sewage backup in your basement was damaged pipes, installing new durable plastic pipes will solve the issue and make it much less likely to happen again in the future. This is an expensive option, but a very effective one.
A much more straightforward (and cheaper) solution to do is adjust your family’s behavior to avoid clogged drains altogether. Avoid flushing wet wipes (even ones labeled flushable) and feminine products down the toilet. Pour grease and oil into the garbage or a disposable container rather than washing it down the sink drain.
You can check your city or municipality’s website for a safe disposal guide, but here is NYC’s as an example.
Backwater valves are another way to help prevent future sewage backups. They are one-way valves that let sewage pass out but not return and back up into your home.