Sewer backups can be mentally and financially draining. The need to deal with them as soon as the first sign appears is paramount. A sewer backup can happen in any of your home’s drainage pipes. The damage it creates may be minor or significant, depending on the extent of the backup. Here are a few things you need to do after a sewer backup.
1. Stop Using the Water Supply System in Your Home
When there is a sewer backup in your home, using the water supply system either by flushing down toilets or trying to unclog sinks can make the situation worse. In any case, your water system may be contaminated as well. It’s best to wait for a professional plumber to come and fix the situation and provide guidance of what steps you should take to solve the problem. However, there are a few things you can do before a plumber comes in.
2. When It’s Safe, Switch off the Power Supply
This will prevent the risk of electrocution in the event there is a loose cable or the water has come into contact with conducting cables. When switching off the electricity, be extremely careful. Only attempt to switch off the electricity when it is absolutely safe to do so. Take precaution by wearing rubber gumboots, hand gloves and a face mask to avoid coming into direct contact with the water. If possible, use a wooden or a plastic stick to safely switch off the power supply.
3. Air the House
A sewer backup emits a strong foul smell that quickly fills every part of your home. To reduce the intensity of the smells, open all windows and doors. But only do so if it is safe to do so. Allowing for proper ventilation by opening all doors and windows will greatly help as some of the fumes may contain harmful poisonous substances.
4. Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals to Unclog the System
Using harsh chemicals in an attempt to unclog your system can further damage your pipes and worsen the situation. For instance, using solutions that use enzymes instead of chemicals is highly recommended. While chemicals may damage your pipes, enzyme-based solutions do not.
5. Disinfect the Stagnant Water Using Bleach
Once the electrocution risk has been eliminated, use a chlorine-based bleach to disinfect the stagnant water. This improves the safety of your home. At this stage, unless you know what you are doing, you should already have a plumber on site. Raw stagnant water poses a health risk to you and your family, and anyone coming into contact with the contaminated water.
6. Document the Damage
Taking pictures of the extent of damage caused by the sewer backup is important, especially if you plan to claim sewer insurance to cover for the damages. Documenting the damage when it happens provides you with irrefutable evidence when claiming for compensation from your insurance company.
7. Call for Professional Assistance
Depending on the severity of a sewer backup, it is highly recommended that you let a professional plumber handle the situation. If the plumber is any good, he has dealt with similar situations before. Letting them fix your backed-up sewer is the most rational thing to do.
8. Toss and Disinfect
Every item that had come into contact with the sewer water should either be thrown away or disinfected. Some of the non-porous items in your house can be salvaged. But they have to be thoroughly disinfected. However, it may be too late to salvage porous items that have absorbed the sewer water.
9. Have a Backwater Valve Installed
Having a sewer backup in your home can be a stressing nose-turning experience. Once the problem has been fixed, your next step is to prevent the problem from recurring. Your plumber will most likely recommend a backwater valve to prevent the sewer from backing up in your house again.