After the cause of the sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) or sewer backup is resolved, the most important cleanup steps are to restore the environment to a dry state and salvage any valuable property. The longer that sewage is allowed to remain in your home, the greater the potential for damage to your home and its contents, and for health problems to develop for your family.
Health and Safety Tips
- Avoid direct contact with sewage and be particularly careful of your face and eyes
- Always wear protective rubber gloves, eyewear, and boots, and be especially careful if you have cuts or open sores; rain gear is also advisable
- Assume everything touched by sewage is contaminated
- Clean and disinfect everything sewage has touched
- Wash, disinfect, or discard any clothing or supplies used in the cleanup immediately after use
Steps to Reduce Health Risks From a Contaminated Property
- Remove any excess water from the property by using pumps or wet vacs, or by mopping
- Do not pump sewage outside or into the catch basins in the street; pump excess sewage back into the unobstructed sewer lateral or into a vacuum truck for removal
- Use dehumidifiers and active ventilation when available
- Collect and dispose of all contaminated materials
- Discard all upholstered furniture and mattresses; remove and clean or discard other contaminated furniture
- Wash and disinfect affected areas with a solution of one-quarter cup household bleach to one gallon of water
How to Find a Cleaning Service
Building owners may decide to use a professional cleaning service. Search online or in the phone book for “Water Damage,” “Fire Restoration,” or “Mold Abatement” to find cleaning companies. It is recommended that building owners check the company’s references and determine that the company is insured.
Keep Records of Damage and Cleanup
Building owners should take pictures of property damage for their records and include the date, time, and specific areas of the building where the backup occurred (i.e. floor drain, toilet, or shower drain). If building owners hire a professional service, retain all receipts from the work done.
Inform Your Insurance Company
BWSC recommends that building owners inform their insurance carrier that a backup took place. If you believe you experienced a backup due to a defect in BWSC's system, you may file a claim by contacting Claims at 617-989-7000.
For additional instructions, visit the Mass DEP’s Flooding and Sewage Back-ups Home Care Guide.
For more information, see our Sewer Backup Cleanup Procedures brochures.