One of the most frustrating, stomach-churning, and even dangerous situations that you can face in your home is a situation that results in the backup of raw sewage into your residence. At the outset, it’s important to note that unless you are only dealing with a truly minor situation like a temporarily clogged toilet that resulted in a bit of overflow on the bathroom floor, you must give serious consideration to retaining the services of a professional sewage cleanup company. With that said, there are certain considerations that you must bear in mind when it comes to a thorough and safe sewage cleanup at your home (or business).

Safety Must Be Your Number One Concern

When contemplating undertaking sewage cleanup, safety must be your overarching concern. There are a number of crucial steps that must be taken when it comes to safety and residential sewage cleanup.

First, you must cordon off any area that is impacted by sewage. This includes not only floors and other surfaces that obviously have been contaminated by sewage but also air that exists in the area directly infiltrated with sewage as well as other areas in the premises. The reality is that a sewage backup in a residence (or other location) results in dangerous substances ending up in the air as well. Thus, in most cases, if a residence has experienced anything but a very minor sewage issue like the clogged toilet mentioned previously, access to the entire home likely needs to be restricted.

Second, attention must be paid to utility services at a residence in the aftermath of a sewage backup. What this oftentimes means is that electric and gas service to the residence likely needs to be cut off until the sewage issue is remediated. This involves reaching out to the providers of these types of utility services.

Third, if you’re going to embark on sewage cleanup on your own, you must have appropriate personal protective equipment. At a minimum, this gear includes:

  • HEPA mask or respirator (in the event of a sewage backup issue in a residence, a respirator is recommended)
  • Protective eyewear
  • Clothing protection in the form of something like a Tyvek uniform
  • Highly durable gloves
  • Protective footwear covering

You need to make certain that all of this gear is specifically designed to use in a situation involving biohazards.

The Sewage Cleanup and Remediation Process

Whether embarking on sewage cleanup on your own (which again is not recommended due to the risks involved) or whether a professional will undertake the task, the remediation process is the same. The sewage cleanup and remediation process is multifaceted and includes these steps:

  • Inspection of premises
  • Removal of water and waste
  • Drying the contaminated area
  • Cleaning and scrubbing contaminated area
  • Sanitization of contaminated zone
  • Deodorization of the premises
  • Repairing damaged elements of residence
  • Restoration of the residence to a livable condition

Inspection of Premises

In advance of the actual cleanup and remediation work, the premises must be closely inspected to ascertain the extent of the contamination and to begin to identify what physical damage has occurred to the residence and objects contained in the property. If a professional is called in to undertake the sewage cleanup, a reputable biohazard remediation company provides a reliable cost estimate at this juncture.

Removal of Water and Waste

Once all safety considerations are addressed fully, water and waste (black water) associated with the sewage situation are eliminated. Typically, this involves the use equipment that includes wetvacs and pumps. The extracted waste must be transferred to an appropriate receptacle and disposed of in a manner permitted by law, regulation, and ordinance.

Drying the Contaminated Area

The next step in the residential sewage cleanup process is drying the contaminated area. This is a challenging process and involves the utilization of powerful equipment that includes air movers and humidifiers.

Cleaning and Scrubbing Contaminated Area

When the premises are dry, the next phase involves cleaning and scrubbing contaminated surfaces and objects in the property (that can be cleaned and do not have to be discarded). Specialized (commercial grade) cleaning agents are necessary for this process.

Sanitization of Contaminated Zone

Sewage is rife with an array of dangerous pathogens capable of causing serious illness. These include viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Consequently, a vital phase of the overall remediation process is the sanitization of the contaminated area. This necessitates the use of medical-grade sanitizing agents.

Deodorization of the Premises

A sewage incident in a residence results in residual odors. Part of the sewage cleanup process is the elimination and eradication these odors. A professional sewage remediator utilized specialized, powerful deodorization agents to accomplish this vital objective.

Repairing Damaged Elements of Residence

In conjunction with the remediation process itself, attention will also need to be paid to repairing any damage done to the premises as a result of the sewage incident itself. This may necessitate the assistance of a professional contractor if the damage is significant.

Restoration of the Residence to a Livable Condition

When these steps are completed, the residence is restored to a safe, livable condition. Ideally, once the sewage cleanup and associated processes are completed, there should be no evidence of the situation that existed at the residence.


Emily Kil

Co-Owner of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Together with her husband, Emily Kil is co-owner of Eco Bear, a leading biohazard remediation company in Southern California. An experienced entrepreneur, Emily assisted in founding Eco Bear as a means of combining her business experience with her desire to provide assistance to people facing challenging circumstances. Emily regularly writes about her first-hand experiences providing services like biohazard cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, unattended death cleanup, and other types of difficult remediations in homes and businesses.