Sewage Back Up Tips
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Discovering that your sewer has backed up is a very disturbing situation. You may want to just right in with a shop vac and start taking care of the situation yourself. However sewage is a bio-hazard and there is a lot more to it that how it looks and smells. Because of this homeowners should use extreme caution around sewage back-ups.
Here are some sewage back up tips from The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. The IICRC complied guidelines for professional sewage clean-up called the Standard for Water Damage Restoration (S500).
Here are the key principles homeowners should know about sewage back-ups:
It can be dangerous
In most cases Sewage contains a variety of pathogenic – disease causing – fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Therefore anyone who works on sewage losses must have updated vaccinations, including one for Hepatitis B.
Sewage exposure is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems. As a result anyone under two or over 60, those who are pregnant, ill, recovering from surgery, on prescription drugs or chemotherapy, or are immune deficient, are particularly at risk.
A building is not safe when exposed to uncontained sewage. The building can only be safely accessed after the contaminated areas are completely sealed off and placed under controlled air flow. Because after containment there there should be no cross contamination of unaffected areas.
Restoration on some items may not be possible
Highly absorbent sewage-saturated materials, such as carpet, pad, upholstery, bedding, wicker, paper or even fabrics that can’t be washed in hot water (130°F/54°C) for at least 10 minutes, must be contained and disposed of properly. This goes for sewage-saturated drywall, insulation and several other structural materials too. Any attempt to simply clean and dry these contaminatied materials may result in a grave health risk.
Hire a professional
Only the most highly trained professionals should attempt sewage remediation work. Then, a “third party” indoor environmental professional can provide post-remediation verification or “clearance testing” to ensure that the home or building is safe to re-occupy. ( IICRC 2014)