What to do after a sewer backup has occurred in your home?


If you compare the frustrations of a flooded basement with those of a repressed sewer, the sewer would probably win by the nose!

Backing up a sewer is not a pleasant task, given the offensive odor and materials potentially dangerous to your health. Wastewater includes organic and inorganic matter, which is a mixture of water, human excrement, mineral salts and waste products which can drain into a house due to a problem in the underground piping intended to evacuate water.

Back-ups can occur for various reasons: a blockage in the pipes; broken, collapsed, or cracked sewer lines (especially in older homes); and tree roots penetrating or having crushed your sewer pipes.

Water backflow and sewer backflow


The organic matter contained in raw wastewater can emit odorous gases and contain pathogens dangerous to human health. If the sewer backs up in your basement, or elsewhere, you must immediately clean the place where it is.

Once you realize there is a backflow of water, check all your sinks, toilets and wastewater pipes to determine if and where there are obstructions. If you can, unblock the obstruction; otherwise, a plumber can do it. Try not to use your sinks or toilets until the obstruction is resolved. A blockage in the main sewer line could cause water to back up into your bathtub or basement.

Never enter your basement when there is standing water until the electricity is turned off! Electrocution can occur through the combination of electricity and water. If you must turn off the power yourself and can do so safely, take precautions:

  • Wear rubber boots, safety glasses and a face mask;
  • Make sure you do not come into contact with anything metallic that could conduct electricity;
  • Wear rubber gloves or use a wooden stick to cut the electricity.
  • Open a few windows in the flooded area to allow fresh air to enter the rooms and vapors to escape. You can also add a little bleach to any standing water to get some disinfection. Be sure to keep children and pets out of the affected area.
  • In addition, document the damage by taking photos with your cell phone or camera. Your insurance could cover water damage and you will want to be able to illustrate the initial impact and the resulting damage. Remember to call your insurance agent to report the problem.

Cleaning a sewer backflow into your home


Once the obstruction has been removed and / or the pipes have been repaired, the water should recede and you can then proceed to sanitation. It is a thankless task that you can choose to entrust to professionals, but that you can certainly tackle it yourself. After cleaning, wash the clothes you wear and take a shower or bath to avoid damage to your body.

During cleaning, start from the top and go down, spraying the furniture and walls with a water jet to remove any sticky dirt. Wash all surfaces, including floors, with warm or hot water and a low sudsing detergent.

To disinfect these surfaces, mix four volumes of water, one volume of bleach, and a small amount of dishwashing liquid without ammonia to clean all surfaces. Never use ammonia with a chlorine bleach, as the mixture produces toxic fumes. Rinse thoroughly and repeat as needed. Be careful not to leave traces of dirt in unaffected areas of the house.

Clean or throw away after a backflow?

After sewage has invaded your home, you will wonder which of your possessions you can keep safely and which should be thrown away.

As you perform your inspection, consider the porosity of surfaces or elements and their permeability factor, that is, the speed at which a surface lets moisture spread through. , if applicable. The more porous the product, the higher the permeability factor and the more it is necessary to throw it away to prevent it from contaminating your home.

Items that should not be kept include carpet upholstery, rugs, cardboard boxes, books, mattresses, laminate floors, unpainted drywall and upholstery. Clothes and toys should be thrown away unless they are cleaned and disinfected.

Semi-porous materials can usually be recovered if you process them immediately. These include cabinets, vinyl siding, wall coverings and painted drywall.

As far as non-porous materials are concerned, they can almost always be saved, depending on the time during which they have been soaked by the raw sewage. If wastewater is present for a period of time, the risk of black mold is higher. Take care of these materials within hours of damage, otherwise they cannot be recovered. The list of these materials includes tile, concrete, formica and linoleum.


It goes without saying that the most important thing is to prevent this catastrophe from happening again. Prevention can be as simple as installing a water check valve or a sewer check valve. The latter is installed on your sewer line and is designed to prevent wastewater from entering your home. While nobody wants to face a sewer back-up and subsequent cleaning, if it does happen, it’s important to take the steps necessary to restore your home to its former glory.

Yes, sewer backups are odorous, horrible and terrible phenomena, but not unmanageable. A river of droppings spilling around his feet seems like a nightmare, but the possibility is only too real. If such a misfortune should happen to you, it is essential, despite the horror of the situation, to be discerning, careful and reactive.