6 min read

Sewage In Basement

As a homeowner, experiencing a sewer backup is an unpleasant experience. When it occurs, wastewater invades your home, spewing its contaminated contents onto floors and walls. While it poses a significant inconvenience, the real concern lies in the potential health risks brought by these contaminants. 

Sewer backups threaten the comfort and security of your home. To help you, we’ve put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know to deal with sewer backups in your basement. 

Learn why sewage backups occur and how to clean up sewage in basement areas below.

What Causes Sewer Backups?

Sewer backups are a common issue that can occur due to several reasons. Here are some common reasons for sewer backups:

  • Blockages: Non-biodegradable items like wipes, diapers, and feminine hygiene products, as well as the accumulation of grease and waste, can clog pipes and cause backups.
  • Tree Root Intrusion: Roots seeking moisture can grow into sewer lines, obstructing the flow and causing backups.
  • Structural Defects: Cracks, holes, or misaligned joints in sewer pipes can impede the proper flow of sewage, leading to backups.
  • Overwhelmed Public Sewers: During heavy rain or flooding, municipal sewer systems can become overloaded with water, causing sewage to back up into homes or businesses.
  • Old Sewer Systems: Aging sewer systems may not be equipped to handle current demand, leading to overflows and backups.
  • Illegal Plumbing Connections: Improper connections, such as French drains or sump pumps tied into sewer lines, can contribute to an overload of water in the system, increasing the risk of backups.
  • Capacity Issues: If the sanitary sewer system is not designed to handle the volume it receives, especially with increased development or illegal hookups, it can result in backflows.

What are the Signs of Sewage Backups in Basements?

Sewage backups can damage your property and pose health hazards, so taking immediate action is vital. If you notice any of the following warning signs, it could indicate that your basement is at risk of a sewage backup, or it might already be happening. 

Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Unpleasant Odors: If you smell a strong sewage odor from the basement or drains, it’s a clear sign that waste is not properly directed away from your home.
  • Multiple Drain Clogs: When various fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, and showers, show signs of clogging or draining slowly at the same time, it could indicate that there’s a blockage in your main sewer line.
  • Gurgling Sounds: If you hear unusual sounds like gurgling or bubbling coming from your drains and toilets, it’s a sign that there’s air trapped in the plumbing system due to a blockage.
  • Water Backup: The most apparent sign is water backing up from a drain or the toilet plumbing, particularly after using the dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Changes in Toilet Water Level: Fluctuations in your toilet water level could indicate possible sewer backup issues. If the water level is unusually high, low, or fluctuates throughout the day, it’s best to check it out.
  • Sewage in Floor Drain: If you notice sewage coming up from the floor drains in your basement, it clearly indicates that you have a sewage backup problem.

What to Do After a Sewage Backup

Discovering a sewage backup in your basement can be a stressful situation. It’s essential to take immediate action to prevent further damage and reduce the risk of health hazards. Follow these steps to manage the situation safely and begin the restoration process:

  • Avoid Direct Contact: Keep away from the sewage to avoid any harmful bacteria or viruses. Use protective equipment like rubber boots, gloves, and eye protection if you must be near it.
  • Evacuate and Ventilate: Make sure everyone leaves the basement area, including pets. Open windows to let fresh air in and dilute any harmful gasses.
  • Turn Off Electricity: If electrical outlets or panels are near the sewage, turn off the power to the affected area to avoid any electrical hazards.
  • Stop Using Plumbing: Avoid using any plumbing fixtures to prevent adding more water to the backup and worsen the situation.
  • Contact a Professional: Call a licensed plumber or sewage cleanup specialist to assess the situation and start the remediation process. If it’s a municipal issue, contact your local sewage department.
  • Notify Your Insurance Company: Promptly report the sewage backup to your insurance agent or company. Some homeowner insurance policies require reporting of damages to ensure coverage.
  • Document the Damage: Take pictures and videos of the damage but do so safely, without coming into contact with the sewage.
  • Secure the Area: Keep the area secure until professional help arrives to start the cleanup.

How to Clean Up Sewage in Basement Areas

As a homeowner, you must avoid trying to clear the blockage yourself. Seek professional assistance to prevent the risk of further damage to your sewage system. However, you can take the following steps to clean up the mess in your basement area:

  1. Use a garden hose to blast away any sludge in the area. With a push broom, sweep up any solid residue on the floor, starting from the farthest area from the drain and working toward your main drain.
  2. Once the sludge has been cleared, use a cleaning solution to wash it down. Prepare a bucket with clear water for rinsing and mop the floors with the same mixture you used earlier. 
  3. Extract standing water from the basement using a wet/dry vacuum or pump and dispose of contaminated water appropriately, following local regulations. 
  4. Discard porous materials such as carpets, padding, and insulation contaminated with sewage. Bag and dispose of these materials properly.
  5. Thoroughly clean all surfaces with a detergent or disinfectant designed explicitly for sewage cleanup. Use a scrub brush to disinfect the walls and floors that came into contact with the contaminated water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper dilution and application. 
  6. Mix ¾ cups of bleach with 1 gallon of water and use the solution for a final disinfection. Wipe down all surfaces using the bleach solution to eliminate bacteria and odors.
  7. Open the windows or use a dehumidifier to help the area dry faster. Moisture left behind can lead to bacterial growth, so ensure the area is completely dry. 
  8. Prevent future incidents by identifying and addressing the cause of the sewage backup, such as a blocked sewer line or malfunctioning pump, and consider installing a backflow preventer or other preventive measures.

Safeguard Your Property With Restoration 1 of Oak Harbor

Dealing with sewer backups can cause major inconvenience and disrupt your daily routine. These backups can pose serious health hazards. Ignoring the issue can further damage your property, making the situation even worse. By following the tips provided in this guide, you can effectively address the issue of a leaking sewage pipe in your home.

However, if you’re dealing with a more extensive issue, Restoration 1 of Oak Harbor can help. As a leading water damage restoration service provider, we understand the challenges of sewer backups. With extensive experience and access to professional-grade equipment, we provide a comprehensive approach to solving sewage backup problems. 

Contact us today for a free consultation!