How To Handle A Sewer Backup


If you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate position of having a sewer backup in your basement, there is no need to panic.  While this can be frustrating, there are things you can do to start the cleanup process on your own. By following the steps below, you can begin toresolve sewer backup efficiently and safely.


To view Milo's policy on sewer backups, please click here.

There are some essential safety precautions to take when dealing with a sewage backup in your basement.

  1. If there’s basement flooding, (standing water, or overflow) turn off the electricity in the flooded area.
  2. Shut off the water line
  3. Wear protective gear like a facemask and boots if you have to walk through sewage water.
  4. Avoid using your toilets and sinks for the time being to prevent toilet overflowing and further sewer backup.
  5. Call a qualified clean up/restoration company for help.

Under most circumstances, you should let a professional clean up a sewer backup in your basement. However, if the damage is fairly minimal and the flooding/backup isn’t severe, click here for steps on how to clean up your basement yourself.

Protect Yourself

Once you have the backup fixed and your sewer drain is unclogged, 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, use a bleach solution. Leave it for 20 minutes, then wash it away.

What About Carpet Floors?

These cleaning steps will work on a hard floor surface, but carpet flooring 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.

(Information from Jenkins Restoration, 2022)

Deep cleaning the affected area of a clogged sewage drain 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.

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 Sewage Backup Make You Sick?

Sewage water is nothing to mess around with, and should be taken seriously. If you find a sewage backup in your basement, it’s crucial to deal with it in a timely fashion.

The pungent odor of sewage can actually make you sick. There are toxic gases in sewage that can cause anything from skin irritation to organ damage and death.

But if you take the proper safety precautions by wearing the right gear and work on solving the problem immediately, your risk of illness is much lower.

(Jenkins Restoration, 2022).

After dealing with a sewage backup in your basement drains, such as toilet backing up into a basement drain, you’ll never want to have that experience again. Here are some steps you can take to prevent a recurrence:

Plastic Pipes

Install new plastic pipes. If the problem that caused the basement drain to clog in your basement was damaged pipes, installing new durable plastic pipes will solve the sewage backup issue and make it much less likely to happen again in the future. This is an expensive option, but a very effective investment to make on behalf of your safety and health.

Keep Drains Clog Free

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 that are labeled as flushable), paper towels, and feminine products down the toilet. Pour unused grease and oil, left over from cooking, into the garbage or in a disposable container rather than washing it down the kitchen sink drain.

Backwater valves are another way to help prevent future sewage backups. They are one-way valves that let sewage pass out the drain, and it will not return or back up into your home.

Sump Pump Maintenance

Make sure your sump pump doesn’t sit on debris, such as silt or gravel, which could ruin the motor if sucked up into the pump. Instead, place it on something such as steady flat brick. A filter fabric around the basin is a must to prevent debris from coming in.

Remove Illegal Plumbing Connections

Make sure there are no illegal plumbing connections to your city sewer line. This includes sump pumps, French drains and other flood control systems. This can cause debris to clog your sewer lines.

(Jenkins Restoration, 2022).