Cleaning After an Event

Cleaning Up After Flooding/Sewer Backups

How do I clean up after floods/sewer backups?
Proper responses to flooding/sewer backups can greatly minimize losses from negative health effects and property damage. Every situation is unique and will require different responses but there are some universal principles that can be applied to all situations. Sewer backups and flooding can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house, and the risk of electrocution. Prompt cleanup of affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and damage.

Health and Safety Issues
Please be aware and keep in mind the risk of potential health and safety problems when addressing the cleanup of your home. Sewage and floodwaters contain bacteria, fecal material, viruses and other hazardous microorganisms which can cause disease. These “germs” can be transmitted by touching contaminated items or by tracking them into uncontaminated areas on shoes. Children and pets are especially vulnerable. Odors from sewage backups and flood waters are unpleasant but not harmful. The speedy removal and cleanup of water is very important and necessary.

To protect yourself and your family during
Clean up, please follow these guidelines:
Avoid skin contact with sewer water, especially cuts and sores. Keep them clean and covered. If you should suffer a cut while working in flood or sewer water, contact your physician or the Health Department about receiving a tetanus shot. Do not allow children to play in areas contaminated by sewage or flood water. Do not eat or drink anything exposed to the water. Keep contaminated objects, water, and hands away from mucous membranes (mouth, eyes, and nose). Wash hands frequently, especially after bathroom use, before eating, and immediately following contact with sewer/flood water or contaminated objects/surfaces. Disinfect all areas and equipment that came into floodwater contact with a solution of 8 tablespoons of liquid chlorine bleach to a gallon of water. This is a very effective method of removing odors and bacteria. Bleach solutions are the most effective disinfectants, but may cause discoloration of many materials.

Do’s and Don’ts of Clean-up
Because of the unsanitary nature of a sewer backup in the home, it is essential that all affected areas where the backup occurred be cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible. Generally, small household items that are affected or exposed to the sewage should be discarded. It is important to make a list of discarded items, and if possible, provide photographs or video for insurance purposes.

All affected appliances should be inspected prior to putting them
back into operation.

We recommend an immediate thorough sanitized cleanup of your
affected property.

Many private companies can handle the cleanup for you. Check the yellow pages under the listing “Fire and Water Damage Restoration.” Some companies will also inspect and repair major appliances (furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers). If a private company is contracted to do cleaning and/or restoration, be sure to keep all receipts for insurance purposes.

If you chose to cleanup your property yourself, the following Information is provided as a recommendation to assist with your cleanup efforts:

• Potential health and safety hazards must be identified and eliminated prior to implementing cleaning or restoration procedures. Before entering the affected area the potential for electrical shock hazards and gas leaks must be assessed.

• Wear protective clothing such as rubber boots, gloves and eye protection during cleanup and removal. To remove gloves, turn them inside out, without touching the contaminated exterior. Dispose of them properly.

• Treat all water soaked surfaces, furnishings and items as contaminated until properly cleaned &sanitized.

• Do not use any electrical equipment while standing in water.

• Wet-vacuum to remove spillage.

• Operate wet vacuums only when plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter or ground fault equipped outlet.

• Remove and discard carpet and steam clean or discard drapes.

• Remove and discard upholstered furniture and porous wood furniture stained by sewage.

• Discard or properly wash and disinfect toys, clothing and other contaminated objects.

• Sanitize and clean hardwood furniture, then thoroughly wipe, dry and apply an oil based wood polish.

• Ventilate the affected area with floor fans and a dehumidifier, if available, to properly dry the area. If it has not been directly contacted by water, activate the building’s heating, ventilation and doors when conditions are favorable.

• Clean appliances and/or ductwork. If electric motors, wiring or insulation have been saturated, have a qualified service technician remove the motor, dry it, and inspect for damage before plugging it back in and turning it on.

•Do not use heat to dry closed building interiors; mildew and expanded water damage may result.

• If your basement walls are finished with drywall, all the areas contacted by water must be removed and disposed of within 24 hours. Once these items get wet, they retain moisture long enough to grow mold

• Removing the wall board also allows air to circulate around the wood studs so that they dry completely and will not need to be replaced.

• Sanitize and repair, or remove and discard, paneling, wallboard or wall coverings

• Unplug all electrical appliances, small electrical devices on wet floor covering or other wet areas and turn off the circuit breakers supplying electricity to affected areas.

• Turn off the gas (or other fuel source) to your furnace or heater and hot water heater.

• Avoid flushing toilets or using other water connected to appliances or fixtures. The discharge from these
items may back up into the basement.

• After the waters have receded, flush out and disinfect plumbing fixtures before resuming normal use.

• Do not track sewage or floodwater from the basement into living areas of the house.

• Keep children and animals out of the affected area.

• Take before-and-after photos.

• If a dishwasher, washing machine, shower, bathtub, toilet or other water fixture is operating shut it off immediately.

• Move any uncontaminated property away from the affected areas.

Treatment of Rugs and Carpeting
For smaller, loose rugs, and wall-to-wall carpet installed on tacks, in-plant cleaning is the best option. The germicidal and cleaning treatment has to be thorough. Both the carpet and the floor surface have to be completely cleaned and decontaminated. Germicides used for this have to be effective even against the bacteria of the E. Coli family, which is present in contaminated sewage. For wall-to-wall carpets that are glued down, cleaning on-site may not be completely effective and in-plant cleaning may not be viable economically or practically. Contaminated padding is best discarded and should not be reused.

If you have any other questions or concerns please contact the Village of Fox Lake at
(847)587-2151. For issues or questions about sewer backups please contact the Village of Fox Lake Sewer and Water Department at (847)587-3506.