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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
AEROBIC SEPTIC SYSTEMS
ALTERNATING BED SEPTIC SYSTEMS
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEPTIC
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEWER LINE
BACKWATER VALVES, SEWER LINE
BOD WASTEWATER TEST
BOOKSTORE, SEPTIC SYSTEMS
CESSPOOL SAFETY WARNINGS
CHECK VALVES, WATER SUPPLY
CHEMICALS & TREATMENTS for SEPTICS
CHLORINE IMPACT on SEPTIC
CHLORINE SOURCES in WASTEWATER
CLEANOUTS, PLUMBING DRAIN
CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
D BOX TROUBLESHOOTING
DEFINITIONS OF SEPTIC SYSTEM TERMS
DISTRIBUTION-BOX INSPECTION, SEPTIC
DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
DRIVING or PARKING OVER SEPTIC COMPONENTS?
DRYWELL DESIGN & USES
EFFLUENT RETENTION TIME
FILTERS SEPTIC & GREYWATER
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOODED SEPTIC SYSTEMS, REPAIR
GARBAGE DISPOSAL vs SEPTICS
GRAVELLESS SEPTIC SYSTEMS
GRAVITY/SIPHON DOSING SYSTEMS
HOME BUYERS GUIDE to SEPTIC SYSTEMS
HOME SELLERS GUIDE TO SEPTIC INSPECT
HOW SEPTIC SYSTEMS WORK
LAGOON SEPTIC SYSTEMS
LEACHFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
MEDIA FILTER SEPTIC SYSTEMS
MOUND SEPTIC SYSTEMS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS & SMELLS DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS, PLUMBING SYSTEM
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
OUTHOUSES & LATRINES
PLANTS & TREES OVER SEPTIC SYSTEMS
PRESSURE DOSING SEPTIC SYSTEMS
RAISED BED SEPTIC SYSTEMS
SAND BED SEPTIC SYSTEMS
SEPTIC & CESSPOOL SAFETY
SEPTIC BACKUP PREVENTION
SEPTIC BACKUP REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC CLEARANCE DISTANCES
SEPTIC CODES & REFERENCES
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD INSPECTION & TEST
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD LIFE
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD LOCATION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD RESTORERS?
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC FIELD INSPECTION
SEPTIC SYSTEM FLOOD DAMAGE REPAIR
SEPTIC HOLDING TANKS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC METHANE GAS
SEPTIC or SEWER CONNECTION?
SEPTIC PUMPING REPAIR
SEPTIC / CESSPOOL SAFETY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC SYSTEM ODORS
SEPTIC SYSTEM PUMPS
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TANK BAFFLES
SEPTIC TANK COVERS
SEPTIC TANK, HOW TO FIND
SEPTIC TANK INSPECTION PROCEDURE
SEPTIC TANK LEAKS
SEPTIC TANK LEVELS of SEWAGE
SEPTIC TANK PUMPING PROCEDURE
SEPTIC TANK PUMPING REASONS
SEPTIC TANK PUMPING SCHEDULE
SEPTIC TANK SAFETY
SEPTIC TANK SIZE
SEPTIC TANK TEES
SEPTIC TESTS: DYE & LOADING TESTS
SEPTIC TEST VOLUMES & DYE AMOUNTS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in buildings
SEWAGE GRINDER PUMPS
SEWAGE LEVELS in SEPTIC TANKS
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWAGE PUMP CLOG DAMAGE
SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TOILET FLUSHOMETER VALVES
TOILET INSTALLATION PROCEDURE
TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY
TOILET PLUGS, SEWER BACKUP
TOILET REPAIR GUIDE
Toilet Types, Flush Methods
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WATER QUALITY TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER QUANTITY IMPROVEMENT
WATER QUANTITY USAGE GUIDE
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WETLAND SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
What to do in response to a septic or sewer backup into a building or in response to building flooding: this article explains how to respond to septic system or sewer backups in a building. Yes the photo of a toilet backing up at page top is disgusting. It's also unsanitary and can be a serious health hazard in a building. Here we explain the inspection, cleanup and other steps necessary to sanitize a building that has suffered flooding or sewage-contaminated backups as well as steps to return the building drain, waste, vent system to operation. This article also explains how to stop a toilet from overflowing and it offers some first aid for toilet backups and other plumbing drain or sewer piping backup conditions.
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In this article series we explain the causes of sewer or septic backups into buildings, the health hazards, testing, and cleanup of sewage backups, and the cure or prevention of future sewage or septic backup problems.
If your building has had a septic or sewage system backup into the structure see this article and also see SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION. Separately, at SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP we discuss how to test for bacterial or other pathogens in a building - tests that may be useful after a sewage spill cleanup in order to assure that the building is acceptably clean.
If the event that caused the sewage or septic backup into the building has also left the building drain system clogged (likely if the entire system was flooded), see BLOCKED DRAIN REPAIR METHODS to try clearing your blocked drain before going to more drastic measures. If you have had sewage back up and spill out of toilets into the building, cleanup is needed and you may face bacterial hazards.
Readers should see Camping & Emergency Toilets and also see TOILET ALTERNATIVES for a discussion of camping toilets, chemical toilets, emergency-use toilets, waterless toilets, graywater systems, composting toilets, home health care toilets, incinerating toilets, outhouses, and latrines.
Emergency Toilet Overflow Rescue Procedure - how to stop a toilet from overflowing
If the toilet is about to overflow here is what you do to prevent sewage from running over the toilet bowl and onto the floor:
If the water level in the toilet bowl is dropping slowly, keep holding the toilet tank float up in its highest position so that water stops flowing into the tank and into the toilet bowl.
Wait a minute - if in the next minute or two the water level in the toilet bowl slowly drops down to a normal level, you'll be able to release the toilet tank float and let the tank and toilet bowl refill without danger of overflowing onto the floor.
OK so You Prevented the Toilet From Overflowing onto the Floor, What Next:
If you have had sewage back up and spill out of toilets into the building, cleanup is needed and you may face bacterial hazards. See SEWAGE CONTAMINATION IN buildings for advice.
Why Does the Septic or Sewer System Back Up During a Party?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to clean up and fix septic backup problems in buildings
What Makes Septic or Sewer Backup Wastewater Appear on Different Building Floors?
Question: can sewage or septic backups appear on upper building floors due to a bad drain line?
If you have a septic and the line is back pitched from the house to the tanks:
Is it possible for the backup to overflow the basement toilet and the 1st floor toilet? Or is it impossible for the backup to reach the main floor after the basement toilet overflows.
Is it possible for the main floor toilet to overflow and not the basement ?
Thanks in advance for your help, M.L.
Reply: Possible causes of septic or sewage backup
A competent onsite inspection by an expert who is familiar with septic and sewer systems usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem with septic piping, backups, failures and overflows into the building. That said, here are some things to consider:
A septic system or a clogged sewer line, or a flooded sewer or septic system can certainly back up into a basement, crawl space, or other lowest floor of a building
A septic system (or even a sewer) draining out at basement level from a muilti-story house would not be expected to back up onto upper floors because it would find exit points first in the basement at toilets or other fixtures, and because it would be unlikely to develop enough pressure to force sewage out onto upper floors.
An exception to the point above would be the case of a building whose main drain is lower than a sewer or septic piping system. Such buildings use a pumping chamber to push wastewater to its destination.
If the septic or sewer pumping system failed and if the necessary check valves were not in place or were defective, sewage could back up to higher levels in the building What would more likely cause both sewage backup into a basement and onto upper floors in a building would be blocked system drains.
Follow-up from reader:
Just further clarification if you don't mind: i had a belly in my pipes and had a back up 3 times, 2 times for sure in the walkout basement and 1 time I believe it went to the floor above the walkout basement. I just wanted to know if that might have been the cause of the other floor or was it just coincidence that this happened during the same time as the other problem. Is it possible that this was the result of the belly in the pipes or just a random occurence ?
Reply: a belly or sag in sewer piping can cause partial and eventual complete drain blockage and sewer backups
Sewer backups may seem to be a random occurrence but in fact if we knew exactly what was going on with the drain, waste, vent system and the local sewer or septic system, there would be no backups attributed to just "chance".
A sag in a drain pipe can, over time, collect sediment, corrosion, and sewage that can lead to an eventual clog and backup. That's why plumbing codes specify that building drain piping should slope continuously with "horizontal" runs sloping at 1/8" to 1/4" per foot.
What can happen is that a partial blockage of a drain line accumulates more and more debris and becomes more and more solidified until a combination of a particularly large "dose" of solid waste, say feces and toilet paper, has trouble making it past the slow or partly blocked area. That in turn can lead to an actual sewer backup.
Question: Testing for illnesses related to sewage backups or sewage contamination: Leptospirosis, Typhoid Fever or Yersiniosis
Approximately 2 months ago I moved into a new house, and 1 week in there was a sewage leak into the backyard. All of the piping needs to be replaced but only a small section has been, so although it is not spilling onto the surface of the yard anymore, I believe it is still leaking into the ground under the surface.
My dog has been very ill since living here (vomiting, diarrhea, and is now developing skin lesions). The tests come up negative for Giardia, but he gets better when on antibiotics. As soon as he is off the antibiotics he relapses and it finally occurred to me this may be due to the fact that the incoming water is contaminated.
He has not been specifically tested for Leptospirosis, Typhoid Fever or Yersiniosis, which I plan on having done today. Is there anything else you feel I should have him tested for?
In regards to the water testing, do you know of a laboratory in the Sacramento, CA area? If so, I would greatly appreciate you providing me with their contact information. Would the Total Coliform test be sufficient, or is there further testing you would recommend?
Thank you in advance for your help. - Best, L.S.
L.S. these are questions to ask your veterinarian and your doctor. Having some experience with Typhoid fever I can mention that our doctor advised that it was very important to be sure that any treatment for Typhoid be continued until the doctor is sure that the treatment has been effective, and thence it is important to avoid re infection. An incomplete treatment for Typhoid, such as failure to complete an effective course of antibiotics, risks leaving behind a antibiotic-resistant strain that could make future treatment still more difficult.
While the physician with whom we consulted, [S.R. SmDA, Nov 2011] is convinced that the only vector for Typhoid fever is from eating [Typhoid strain of salmonella-] contaminated food, we have also read that a secondary vector might be possible via mosquitoes or flies in contact with sewage.
Questions & answers or comments about how to stop an overflowing toilet, how to clean up a septic or sewage backup, how to fix backing up sewers and septic lines.
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