Sewage backup under a homeSewage Backup Clean-up Procedure FAQs
Q&A about how to clean up a septic or sewer bacup

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Sewer or septic drain backup or toilet overflow cleanup procedure FAQs:

Questions & answers about how to deal with a sewage spill or a toilet overflow: what should be done, who should do it?

This article series provides septic or sewage backup cleaning procedures, recommendations and standards for buildings.

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Sewage Backup & Contamination Cleaning Procedure FAQs

Spraying a biocide at a mold remediation project (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out: sewage spills contain contaminants that can cause serious illness or disease. Disease causing agents in raw sewage include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses and can cause serious illnesses including bacterial infections, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Leptospirosis, infections by Cryptosporidium & Giardia and gastrointestinal diseases. (SEWAGE & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS)

These questions & answers about procedures for cleaning up and disinfecting a building after a sewage backup or spill were posted originally at SEWAGE CLEANUP STANDARDS

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On 2017-09-11 by (mod) - what to do about rental property dumping sewage into crawl space


You don't say where you live but in most countries, cities, states or provinces it is a building code violation and a health code violation to discharge sewage directly to the ground outside or inside or under a building as you have described.

To respect the health and safety question you raise it makes sense for you to

1. report these conditions to your local health department and building code officials
2. check with your doctor about any specific health concerns

On 2017-09-11 by Ricky Reed

What if you were renting a house for 6 months before you found out that the shower in the only bathroom was never hooked up to the drain pipe and for 4 years the water and the raw sewage (when the toilet backed up) which was a lot!

Went right on the ground and there was no outside access under the house I finally smashed a hole in the floor that's when we found all that mess. I stayed for 4 months after and they evicted me. But did not clean up the place and I'm worried about if someone else moves into it and dies , I'm worried what heath problems I might have , breathing and eating with all that raw sewage under me. What do I do?

On 2017-08-16 by (mod) - what to do about incomplete sewage backup cleanup


I can't assess the conditions in your home from just the text, but in general you would need to disinfect every surface that was in contact with sewage.

There is a more subtle risk that during sewage cleanup, even apparently-untouched-by-sewage boxes or other contents are actually contaminated by droplets or even microdroplets of sewage that are created during the cleanup.

Your sump system is contaminated as well and perhaps likely to clog since sump pumps are not designed to function as sewage grinders.

On 2017-08-15 by nana3na1

We had a half inch backup in cement basement yesterday. We pushed it toward the sump pump with brooms. Dehumidifier, which is always running, was in the wetness. Everything we own is stored down there in cardboard boxes on wooden skids.

My husband sprayed Odor Ban around the exposed floor and as much as possible, under the wooden skids, where a half inch or more wetness was that we couldn't reach.

Today the floor appears to be dry and he says that it is all OK. I have a problem with that. Could you answer some questions? Does the now dry cement still need to be cleaned and sanitised somehow? Are the boxes and things on skids totally fine?

Or should they all be removed and even repacked? They felt "damp" from the humidity. Are the wet wooden skids now contaminated? Should Every bottom and/or leg of hard items be washed off? There are no Windows or outside entrance door to open for ventilation, so what about the bad air?

I have a compromised immune system and have been through black mold issues in the past, at another location, and I Really want to avoid all toxic issues. Any advice is Greatly appreciated! Thank You!


On 2017-08-10 by (mod) - 10" deep sewage back up in my basement - can I clean my tools?

Good question. What sort of tools? Hand tools? Machines? I think the requirements differ as will the economics or reasonableness of cleaning vs. replacement. Hard surfaced simple items can simply be washed and disinfected. Motors etc are a different matter.

On 2017-08-10 by Charles R. Williamson Jr.

I live in Fort Wayne, IN and had a 10" deep sewage back up in my basement. It has been properly abated, cleaned, and sanitized. My question now, is there a certified service that can clean my tools that were exposed to sewage?

On 2017-08-10 by Kimberly

My utility company replaced the sewer main and missed re-connecting my sewer line. Sewage backed up into my bathroom floor and the water was draining through the tile floor and mortar bed into the garage area below. They are saying there is no evidence of contamination in the floor. However, from the garage below they have applied (poorly) encapsulation paint to the floor joists underneath the bathroom.
What do the regulations state regarding required clean up? Does the floor need to be removed and replaced? If there is a regulation can you please provide the info? Thank you!

On 2017-05-06 by (mod) - sewer back up underneath a mobile home


I'd have the upper few inches of contaminated soil remove, add fill back if necessary using clean fill, then put down a 6 mil plastic vapor barrier. Smell the plastic itself before installing it to be sure that the plastic won't itself be a horrible odor source.


The legality of an eviction notice depends on the terms of your lease and whether you've violated them. It's a question to ask an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney most communities provide free legal aid.

On 2017-05-06 by Anna


I had a sore back up underneath a mobile home and it is all dried up now because it was fixed by a plumber but I would like to know how I can get rid of the odor smell under my mobile home

On 2017-03-26 by James T

Is it leave for the landlord to evict us from the home

On 2017-02-14 by Anonymous

Would you wright the carpet off from faeces and some blood was on a carpeting in a commercial office. Steam cleaned with quot ammonium applications and oxidiser?

On 2016-09-29 by (mod) -


If a sewage backup is not properly handled there could be remaining health hazards, including on exposed surfaces, in ductwork, in wall and ceiling cavities; while there are sanitizers and disinfectants that are an effective part of such a cleanup effort, simply spraying here and there is rather unreliable:

you could be leaving an un-recognized health hazard in the home.

I'd start by obtaining details of just what happened, what cleanup was done, how expert was the cleaning company, and what independent inspections and tests were performed first to define the scope of work needed and second how successful that work was.

On 2016-09-29 by Paul H

I live in rent a whole house and I had a major sewage backup and it took the landlord 4 weeks to clean it it was only clean with bleach and he cut out all the drywall he has not clean the air ducts.

What is the specific chemical I can buy to ensure that all the areas are free of mold and bacteria

On 2016-09-25 by Lisa

my basement was flooded by a sewer back up in ny on July 6, 2016. I have thrown out all of my things that were contaminated and my landlord has not cleaned the basement ! What can I do ??

On 2016-09-08 by (mod) - Most municipalities have a rental law that defines safe and habitable living conditions


Most municipalities have a rental law that defines safe and habitable living conditions that the landlord is obligated to provide. However if this is not a rental apartment but a condominium different laws will apply and responsibilities for cleanup may be different as well.

If you're Health Department is not able to help you I'm afraid that it will be necessary to consult with a local attorney.

On 2016-09-08 by Nancy

My siater's apt had a raw sewage leak from a common pipe of the building. The pipe was replace by the condo association but there gas been 3 mobths and the Assiciation does not want to clean up and denied responsibility . Wants her to pay for restoration. We went to the City, the health dept., the state, and no help . What I can do. Everytime we get in the unit we get sick. Please advise.

On 2016-09-03 by (mod) - When is it safe for my kids to reenter the classroom after a sewer backup?

John in my OPINION it's safe for kids to re-enter the classroom ONLY after a professional, such as an industrial hygienist or similar expert has inspected the room, reviewed the case history, studied the area that was contaminated, examined the cleaning procedures that were used, and has made one or more appropriate bacterial or other contaminant tests to confirm that the cleaning was effective.

On 2016-09-02 by John

If my classroom was flooded with sewage from an inclass toilet. When is it safe for my kids to reenter the classroom

On 2016-08-11 by (mod) - sewage contaminated carpets are history

You could have the carpet sanitized using a carpet sanitizing/disinfecting solution or shampoo, but in my OPINION such treatments are rarely competely effective; good procedure would be to replace no less than the section that was sewage contaminated.

On 2016-08-11 by Anonymous

i had a sewer line back up into my living quarters. Most of the affected area was lineolium over concrete.

Which I cleaned with bleach (1 cup bleach per gallon of water) But some got into the carpet (on concrete) Can I clean the carpet, and how?

Very short carpet, no pad, and on concrete/

On 2016-07-10 by (mod) - how to disinfect dirt (red clay) and some old cinders floor in a large outside building after a river flood?

Robert I think you'd be best served by an on-site expert.

But generally what is done is the top few inches of most-sewage-contaminated soil is removed completely, then a sanitizer is applied, and when the conditions are acceptably dry, an impermeable barrier (such as sealed 6-mil poly or heavier) is placed over the soil and over the lower portion of walls.

On 2016-07-10 by Robert

I need to know how to disinfect dirt (red clay) and some old cinders floor in a large outside building after a river flood? Spraying a solution of bleach and water is not a choice as it is drying out ever sooooo slowly with 3 box fans as it is.

On 2016-06-28 21:38:55.798102 by (mod) - toilet in the basement overflow and leak sewage


On 2016-06-28 17:44:04.257556 by Christian

Much like Cindy, we had a toilet in the basement overflow and leak sewage and waste onto a room in the basement. We had someone unprofessionally clean it up, but we never sanitized or properly cleaned it.

I'm looking to do it today, no standing water or waste anymore and we've run a dehumidifier for quite some time.

I was thinking about just mopping with bleach and such but I feel that is not enough. Please help and recommend any products I should pick up in order to properly disinfect and clean the concrete basement floor and walls where it touched--no drywall. Thank you

On 2016-06-01 by (mod) - least expensive way to decontaminate a bin or bucket

Wash it with soap water disinfectant

On 2016-05-22 by Vilnaidorit

Our plumber was cleaning up clogged sewage line from outside the building.

A bucketful of sewage was collected and placed in the bottom of an empty metal garbage bin. What is the simplest, least expensive way to decontaminate the bin. To keep people from possible airborne contamination

On 2016-04-16 by (mod) - sanitize after a sewage backup


sewage contains a number of different pathogens, and other toxic as well, I'd want to sanitize the area.

On 2016-04-16 by Cindy

About 2/1/2 years ago, our outgoing sewage pipe, which runs through our basement to our septic tank, backed up and flooded a part of the unfinished basement (concrete floor).

At the time, we removed a number of items and discarded them, but never got around to vacuuming or disinfecting the floor, since we do not use that part of the basement. Now we need to reorganize and renovate it.

Do we still need to sanitize the floor like we should have done a couple years ago, or would those viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens be dead by now?

(We do run a dehumidifier in the summer down there.) Thanks for any assistance/advice.

On 2016-04-12 by (mod) - powdery substance after cleaning up a sewer spill


The powdery substance you cite may have been mineral salts and debris left by evaporating water from a small leak in the piping;

You've fixed the leak; I can't know how much airborne dust or debris has moved through your house, though when the total size of a dust source is just a few cubic inches of damp material, chances are that the dry particulates from that source are below the limits of detection in the rest of the building.

On 2016-04-12 by Star

Hi I am looking for information. Some years way back.

A friend trying to help out, I rented a rotor rooter and he went inside my waste sewage pipe that ran out to the streets and when he was brining it out of the pipe charcoal black sewage splashed out pretty bad and got on my paneling in the basement area;

how ever we/I cleaned as much up as possible but it never was able to come completely off of my paneling area and some specks inside the utility room area where the pipe exist. I went on about life and it have been years since then.

I had a situation come up later where that same pipe had gook that grew off it that was scary and it was a brown/white powdery type of substance. Well about 2012 some one cut it off for me and added a plastic one because no matter what we used to get it off it grew right back with in days, seeping right on through the pipe,

my question is could that release a dust in the house that could contaminate me/my house?

On 2016-03-28 by (mod) - if it's sewge effluent, is likely to contain hazardous levels of bacteria and perhaps other pathogens.

Henry, no one can assess environmental hazards by a brief e-text, but I can warn that even clear-looking liquid, if it's sewge effluent, is likely to contain hazardous levels of bacteria and perhaps other pathogens.

On 2016-03-28 by Henry

If there was mostly water and it was pretty clear until collected into a bucket, in which is was a dark grayish/black, how worried should i be about sanitizing?

On 2016-02-06 by (mod) - mold contamination risk if backup is clean water but urine may contain pathogens - mold risk

If truly there was only water and no sewage contamination, then the chief risk from the procedure you describe us of a large mold contamination problem.

Water entering the bottom of wall cavities and wet carpets and padding invite mold growth.

While fresh urine from a healthy person is rather sterile, unknown urine and absolutely urine and water coming out of a toilet are not sanitary.

On 2016-02-04 by Tami

A toilet overflowed at my worked. No one caught it for over an hour.

The water flowed across the hall, under/through a wall, and into part of my office. They suctioned over 40 gallons of water out of the hall carpet, but did not notice my office had been effected.

My bosses are saying that since no fecal matter was found (just toilet paper and an assumption of urine) there is no need to disinfect anything.

They feel it just needs to be dried out to prevent mold. What are your thoughts on this?

On 2016-02-02 by Carly

Hi, a plumber recently "introduced" raw sewage into my kitchen sink while he was unclogging my garbage disposal.

Before I realized what he was doing, he had brought in a vacuum machine (similar to a shopvac, I guess) and put the extremely filthy looking hose down into my garbage disposal to suction out the standing water.

I was horrified and after questioning him, he admitted that he uses this device mainly on toilets. How do I clean after something like this? He also ran the garbage disposal, possibly having stuff spray all around and so I will need to sanitize my granite countertops as well.

I was going to use diluted bleach on everything, but it's not recommended for use on granite. 1) would something like Clorox Kitchen Cleanup with bleach (the only Clorox product safe for granite) be sufficient to use on the countertops and 2) how would you recommend I sanitize my stainless sink and garbage disposal?

Should I just use diluted bleach? I am mainly concerned about being able to clean the rubber flap and the blades of the garbage disposal and wondering if I can clean it or have to replace the disposal.

I want to make sure everything is sanitized so that I can feel safe again using my kitchen sink. (I've been ordering takeout not knowing what to do about this....) Thanks for any advice!

On 2016-01-24 01:38:22.971770 by (mod) - check behind trim that got wet


If the floor was flooded sewage may have entered the lower portion of nearby partition walls; check behind baseboard trim and on the cavity side of drywall.

On 2016-01-19 by (mod) -

I agree with you Melissa

On 2016-01-18 by Melissa

Bathroom toilet backed up flooding bathroom, closet and half of my bedroom.

Was wet vaccumed up but not steam cleaned or cleaned at all for 3 days since it happened on new years eve.

When they did clean and sanitize the carpet I am concerned it should have been REmoved. Please advise.

Also just because of the bateria in general I am still afraid to sleep in my bedroom and can still smell sewer like smell.

On 2016-01-16 by Shana

Bathroom toilet flooded the tile floor, carpeted closet & seeped ionto bedroom carpet about a foot.

All carpet in closet was cut out & about two feet of carpet was cut in bedroom where it meets the bathroom. I've disinfected everything. Why do I still smell that sewer smell?

On 2015-12-25 by (mod) -


Sorry but we're a technical and research site, NOT lawyers. Take your lease to your attorney to ask who is responsible for a sewage problem cleanup.

Do not delay cleanup and disinf ed ction while arguing over who oats or the damage and ultimate costs may be much worse.

On 2015-12-19 by Jessica

A sewage backup flooded my basement. I rent an apartment under the Rhode Island Housing Authority. Who is responsible to pay for cleaning it up?

On 2015-12-04 by (mod) - Does the water pipes, garbage disposal and kitchen sink need to be replaced

No, Bill.

On 2015-12-04 by Bill

Does the water pipes, garbage disposal and kitchen sink need to be replaced after a raw sewage back up into them as well as the bathtub?


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