SEWAGE CLEANUP IN BASEMENT
A sewage leak in your basement can be a majorly traumatic event, with huge financial implications. The cost of the damage caused by 1-inch of flooding in your basement can reach up to $25,000. This refers to the damage from all types of flooding, but sewage is by far the worst kind of flooding to experience.
Across the United States as a whole, the cost of water damage (including residual effects such as mold) costs $3 billion each year. Again, these statistics don’t specify damage from sewage, which costs far more than a typical water leak when it comes to cleanup costs. To put it another way: sewage leaks are extremely bad news.
Aside from the unpleasantness of a sewage leak, one of the biggest problems when it comes to a sewage leak is the expense involved. The materials in sewage can be extremely harmful, containing biohazards, corrosive materials, and other toxic substances. As such, the cleanup must be done thoroughly to avoid further damage to property and health. This means using professionals to ensure the job is done correctly. If you want your home to be livable, it is imperative that you get professionals on the case.
This guide will walk you through the steps you need to take in order to minimize damage, save money, and get your home up and running in case of a sewage leak. In (almost) every case, it is far better to call in the professionals and do it quickly. Any dollar you spend is one you’ll save on further damage and long-term pain.
FIRST STEPS DURING A SEWAGE LEAK
What are the first steps to take when you have a sewage leak in your basement?
As mentioned above, sewage in your basement is absolutely a job for professionals. It is a false economy to assume that you can save money by doing the cleanup yourself. Because of the toxic nature of some of the organic materials in sewage, failing to properly sanitize the area can lead to extremely hazardous conditions in your home, which not only will risk your family’s health but can cause far more expensive cleanups in the future.
Upon noticing that you have a sewage leak, you should work on the basis that you’ll need to bring in professionals. However, there are certain steps you can take in the short term to minimize further damage and make the area safe.
The following is your key initial checklist before the professionals arrive:
Seal off the area
You need to make it clear to anyone else in the area that they are not to enter the basement. Use caution tape or block the door (assuming you can’t man it yourself). Anybody who enters the area is liable to come into contact with hazardous materials, as well as potentially spreading it.
Increase ventilation to the outdoors
You should open every door and window possible in order to help with the deodorizing process.
Call your insurance company
Sewage damage can be extremely expensive to fix and, depending on the cause, your insurance company may cover some of the cost. As such, you should call your insurance company as one of your first action items. They may also be willing and able to liaise with the restoration company on your behalf, removing some of the headaches on that front.
HOW CAN YOU CLEAN UP A SEWAGE SPILL IN THE BASEMENT?
To be very clear, it is strongly recommended that you hire professionals to clean up any sewage spills in the basement. Not only are they trained in what to do, they will also have the correct equipment, which will allow them to more effectively and safely remove all of the hazardous materials.
Some of the tasks below are ones you can complete yourself; however, it is very much preferable (since you will be hiring professionals anyway) to allow them to complete all of the tasks. This guarantees that it is done in the most correct and safest way possible.
WEAR PROPER PROTECTIVE GEAR
In order to protect your skin from hazardous or corrosive materials, any work with sewage should be done wearing proper protection. For a professional restoration company, this may involve full hazard suits, as well as breathing apparatus to ensure that no hazardous materials are inhaled.
REMOVE ITEMS THAT CAN'T BE SALVAGED
These will need to be disposed of in the proper manner in order to ensure that the biohazards are properly destroyed.
IDENTIFY THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL TO FIX THE SEWAGE PROBLEM
Once you’ve identified the problem, you’ll need to hire a professional to come and solve it. The professional restoration company will be able to make recommendations and, in some cases, actually fix the problem themselves.
BENEFITS OF HIRING A PROFESSIONAL
If the above hasn’t convinced you of the need to hire a professional, you should consider the further benefits. To be very clear: if you don’t hire professionals, your home may be a health hazard and you may experience further damage to your property. On top of that, however, professionals can bring a number of other advantages:
A QUICK RESPONSE
There are many companies that specialize in sewage damage. This means that they have the tools, the training, and the manpower to act quickly. Almost every company has an emergency call-out option, meaning that once you’ve made the call, they can begin the cleanup process almost immediately.
MINIMIZE THE IMPACT OF A SEWAGE LEAK
Sewage leaks can continue to cause damage in the long term if they are not dealt with correctly. Getting a professional on the scene can prevent further damage from taking place, reducing your overall costs.
COVERED BY INSURANCE
If your policy allows, a professional cleanup will be covered and you won’t need to pay anything yourself. Not only is this free, but it means further damage will be covered. If, however, you decide to do the cleanup yourself, it is unlikely that your insurance company will pay for any of the further damage.
A company using state-of-the-art equipment will ensure that the entire area is sanitized. If you have a family, you need to keep them protected. You simply cannot make that guarantee unless you use a professional cleanup company.
WHEN URGENCY IS NEEDED
Generally, when sewage in your home is involved, it’s always an emergency. However, below is a list of circumstances when you especially need to act as quickly as possible to get professionals into your home.
Damage to the floor
If you notice any sort of damage to floorboards, flooring, carpets, or the like, then you absolutely need to call in a professional. Because of the corrosive nature of sewage, any damage in the short term can continue to spread if not dealt with properly.
If you see sewage spreading (rather than a small amount remaining in one place) then you’ll need to act. This means that the leak is ongoing, and it is imperative that a professional takes over at that point.
If you do not discover a sewage spill early enough, then it is likely that the sewage has seeped into a number of different locations. At this stage, it is not possible for you to clean it yourself. You’ll need professional equipment to ensure that all of the sewage has been removed from the area.
If you have any materials or equipment in your basement that have been compromised, then you will almost certainly need to hire professionals. This also includes items such as fixtures and fittings (including furniture). In particular, if you have any electrical equipment that has been affected, then – for safety reasons – you will need to call a professional.
If your insurer recommends it
If your insurer recommends it, then there’s really no debate. You need confirmation that they will cover the cost, but otherwise, it’s best at this stage to get a professional to take care of it. As mentioned above, if you fail to do so, your insurance company will be unlikely to pay for further repairs.