Just by hearing the words “sewage backup,” people cringe at the image of dirty water coming back up into a house rather than draining toward the sewer line.
It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to grasp how dangerous sewage water is. But it does take a professional to make sure your home is clean and safe to re-enter for your family and pets.
Sewage backup can be due to several reasons, from clogged drain pipes to heavy rainfall. This doesn’t mean they can’t be prevented, though. Homeowners can avoid such accidents by properly maintaining their pipes and ensuring they remain unobstructed.
This article explains how to prevent sewage backups and how you can stop them from damaging your home. And if an accident does happen and it’s more than you can handle, call a specialist and professional restoration company to deal with the problem.
How Do I Know I Have a Sewage Backup Problem?
There are some early telltale signs that should make homeowners watchful about the state of their drainage system.
A slow-draining sink on its own suggests a pipe blockage and can be easily sorted out. If, however, the water is not draining quickly throughout the house, you could have a blockage somewhere in your sewer system.
This can be particularly noticeable in your bathroom or kitchen sink where you actively see the water going down the drain. Usually, slow-running drains become observable closer to the blockage. The draining problems will be evident first on the ground floor, then the first floor and so on.
Sewage odors are unmistakable. If you smell sewage vapors from the drains, then your pipes may be under pressure.
Water Backing up
If water is backing up when you run your washing machine or run a bath, then a blockage may be preventing the water from draining properly.
Bubbling, gurgling, or whistling noises coming from the drains and toilets don’t mean there’s an alligator living in the sewers, as urban legends suggest. Rather, they are another sign that your pipes are under strain. The noises signify that water is not flowing freely.
Water Is Coming out Your Cleanout Pipe
Every sewage line has a cleanout pipe that allows restoration professionals to check the state of your sewage system. If water is building up, it will show on the cleanout pipe, which is usually located in the garden, yard, or basement. The cleanout pipe should be the first to experience the pressure of the problem as it is located the closest to the sewage system.
What Causes Sewage Backups?
Several possible reasons can cause sewage backups. Some are due to poor maintenance and can be avoided while others are caused by natural disasters and are unavoidable.
The City Sanitary Main Is Blocked
If the city sewage system has a problem, then houses near the problem could face sewage backup as the sewage cannot drain freely from houses to the city main sewage drain.
Unfortunately, all you can do is wait for the city sewer crew to sort things out.
Municipal sewage lines have been measured for specific quantities of rainfall. If your area experiences heavy, sudden, or lengthy rainfall, the pipes may get overflown from the sudden quantity of water.
Here, too, there’s not much you can do but wait for the excess water to drain away.
Sometimes sewage pipes run through your garden before reaching the city main sewage line. In places with dry weather, tree roots looking for moisture often find it in sewer pipes.
Tree roots can break or damage pipes, preventing them from draining freely. One possible indication of this is large moist spots in your garden where the water leaks from a broken pipe into the ground.
Should a tree root have broken a pipe, you need to identify the spot, dig down to the pipe, and replace the damaged section with a new one. You can also take preventative measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again, such as laying some cement around the pipe and trimming the roots around it.
Flushing Things down the Drain
Flushing items down the toilet can clog pipes and lead to blockages. Likewise, grease, oils, and kitchen paper towels can block the system. Don’t throw your coffee grounds or wet tissue into the sink as these can obstruct the pipe.
What Can I Do to Stop the Damage from Sewage Backup?
The first thing to do when facing a sewage backup emergency is to call a professional restoration company. They will help ensure the damage is mitigated in the safest and most economical way and will advise you on which household items can be restored and which should be thrown away.
While waiting for the specialists to arrive, there are a few things you can do, listed below in the order you should follow. However, always use caution or you can risk your life or make the damage greater than it already is.
Turn off the Electricity
The very first step to avoid electrocution and further damage to your belongings is to turn off the electricity main right away. Make sure you are not stepping on standing water and using electric devices at the same time.
Open the Windows
Open your windows to bring in fresh air, dissolve fumes, and help with ventilation. The last thing you want is to faint from the fumes while you’re trying to save your house. If you have a mask, put it on to avoid damaging your lungs.
Turn off the Water Main
If you know where the water main is and you are at no risk of injury, turn it off to prevent further damage.
Salvage Items that Will Be Destroyed
Personal items such as important paperwork, insurance policies, photo albums, and anything that cannot survive water damage should be salvaged, as long as you do not risk electrocution and avoid coming into direct contact with dirty water.
If there is a way to mop the floor, do so, but remember that all the equipment you will be using will be thrown away due to contamination. Again, avoid contact with the polluted water.
Some Items Will Be beyond Salvaging
Some items may be beyond salvaging due to contamination: rugs, carpets, drapes, and furniture could be beyond repair because of the bacterial load they will have soaked up.
However, don’t hurry to throw everything away. Mitigation experts have specialized equipment that may save most of your damaged items, even if they seem beyond repair at first glance.
Can I Prevent a Sewage Backup?
Some accidents can be prevented while others are out of your hands. You cannot predict heavy rainfall or a malfunctioning city sewage main drain.
However, you can make sure your pipes are in good repair. If you see a suspicious drainage problem, fix it before it overloads the sewage system. Check your basement for sewage problem signs and waterproof it.
You can also invest in check valves on floor drains and in the basement. Check valves allow the water to flow freely from your house to the sewers but stops water backing up from the sewers toward your home.
Finally, don’t throw grease, hair, and items such as ground coffee into the sink. Also, avoid flushing large items down the toilet.
Is Sewage Water Dangerous to Health?
Sewage water is very dangerous to health. Sewage water carries bacteria, viruses, micro-organisms, fungi, and several other highly dangerous compounds.
Contaminated water can cause infections on broken skin: you should never deal with sewage water without the proper protective gear. Also, sewage water contains toxins and vapors that cause lung problems when inhaled. Wear a mask to protect your lungs.
Call in a Specialist Restoration Company
Here at Valley Restoration and Construction, we have experience in dealing with sewage backup catastrophes. We will ensure your home is safe and sound before starting the restoration. And we will make sure your sewage system is fixed before letting you and your family back in the house.
We are available 24/7. Call us at 970-964-4437 or contact us online. We have the expertise and equipment to reverse the damage and restore your home.
With mold being all around us, it’s no surprise that no household has ever managed to eradicate mold damage completely. Mold needs humidity, oxygen, darkness, and warmth to develop. Our homes offer excellent breeding grounds for mold to release its spores and grow.
Carpets are a beautiful addition to any home: they provide warmth and are wonderful to walk on barefooted. However, they are particularly prone to mold development due to their dense fibers and thick padding.
Preventing excess mold growth in your carpets is the best way to keep your home clean and safe for you and your family. Managing mold colonies to levels that are not dangerous to our health is the best way to have a healthy home environment.
Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to remove mold once it has set in your carpet. You will need the help of experts with the proper equipment and chemicals, including HEPA filters and specific mold-fighting detergents.
Why Does Mold Matter?
Mold can cause upper respiratory problems and symptoms, including bronchitis, asthma attacks, coughing, and wheezing. Mold can also worsen existing allergies and cause skin and eye irritation.
The problem with mold in carpets is that children often play on them, putting them in direct contact with the mold spores. If your home is fully carpeted and mold has taken hold of the carpets, you will be in constant contact with the mold as you walk around the house. As you walk around, you will be carrying the spores throughout the house, thus furthering the problem.
What Can Cause Mold in Carpets?
Because of their fiber density and padding, carpets can capture moisture and retain it. A burst pipe, a ceiling leak, high residual humidity, a plumbing problem, or a bucket of water falling on the carpet can all cause moisture to build up. Due to its sponge-like consistency, the carpet will soak up the water without releasing it.
Carpets have some parts that are made of cellulose. Mold feeds on cellulose. If you add humidity to the mix, these are perfect conditions for mold to grow.
How Do I Know I Have Mold in My Carpets?
There are several ways to confirm you have a mold problem.
The most obvious way is to look for visible mold stains in your carpet—which tend to be black, green, or blue-ish—or general discoloration. This means the mold has found a breeding ground and has released its spores. It can take up to three weeks for mold to become visible on your carpet after an accident or excess humidity.
Another sign of mold infestation is the characteristic musky, earthy smell of mold. Since you spend so much time in your home, you might not be aware of it. However, if a friend comments on a musky smell when they visit, you may have mold growing underneath your carpet.
What Can I Do to Prevent Mold Damage?
If you have a one-off incident of water damage on carpets, speed is of the essence. Mold can start growing within 24 to 48 hours of the spill. Leaving lingering water on your carpet for more than 24 hours could make your carpet beyond repair.
Preventing Mold from Setting In
Even though mold spores are everywhere, it is possible to protect your home from mold. In order to stop mold from developing on your carpets, you can take a few preventive steps:
- Vacuum your carpets regularly to remove dust and other compounds that encourage mold growth.
- Avoid installing carpets in moist areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. No matter how careful you are, water and humidity are bound to set in.
- Use a de-humidifier frequently to take away excess humidity from your home. Relative humidity of 40% to 50% is a good level to hinder mold development.
- Check your carpet not only in visible areas but under and between the padding as well. Also, make an extra effort and move heavy furniture to check the carpet under it. Mold that develops under a heavy sofa or table often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.
- If you have a steam cleaner, use it to clean your carpets. The heat will kill most of the mold spores while cleaning your carpets in the most hygienic way.
How Do I Clean Mold?
Contaminated Water Damage
If the water damage is due to sewage or contaminated water, throw it out and buy a new one. No matter how well you clean it, the bacteria present in contaminated water have already caused irreparable damage.
Clean Water Damage
If the spill is rainwater or tap water, clean up the excess water and turn on your de-humidifier to get as much moisture as possible out of the area. Open your windows to let fresh air in—unless, of course, it’s raining or humid outside. If you can, position your carpets in full sunshine to dry them out as much as possible.
If the damage is too extensive, it’s best to call in mold and water damage experts who will clean your carpet professionally and dry it out with specialized equipment.
Persistent Mold Damage
Most mold damage doesn’t occur from a single incident, but rather builds up over time. If you notice mold patches, you can try cleaning them with special chemicals available in hardware stores or with baking soda and vinegar. Unlike what you might think, bleach doesn’t kill mold spores. Baking soda cleans odors, while vinegar has disinfectant qualities.
However, if you are looking for a truly professional and results-oriented solution, calling in a restoration team is the best answer.
Valley Restoration and Construction is available 24/7 for any mold, water, or fire emergency you face. Call us today at 970-964-4437 or contact us online. We have the expertise and equipment to restore your carpets from water damage and mold and help your home become cleaner and healthier.
Water flooding can cause a lot of damage to your house but is especially catastrophic when it comes to hardwood floors.
The only way to know the extent of the damage is to wait until the hardwood floors are dry. Then you can examine them and establish whether they need repairing or replacing.
What Causes Water Floods?
There are a number of ways water could damage your hardwood floors. Some of them you can anticipate and avoid, but others happen out of nowhere.
A hole in the roof could let in rainwater. Leaky pipes could burst. A toilet might overflow. An appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine could break, causing a mini-flood in your bathroom or kitchen.
During a house fire, the liquid used in fire extinguishers lingers in the area where it’s used and can cause damage to the floor.
Although we hope it never happens to us, there’s always the possibility of a hurricane or a storm crashing in and soaking everything in the house.
Even something as harmless as an aquarium can be trouble if someone knocks it over!
What Types of Water Will I Find During a Water Flood?
Specialists divide water spills into three categories: clean water, gray water, and black water.
- Clean water is the kind of water you could drink. It’s free of bacteria and any other harmful substances.
- Gray water is the water that runs through dishwashers, washing machines, showers, sinks, and so on. It might contain some pathogens, but it’s generally safe to handle.
- Black water is wastewater filled with pathogens and bacteria that comes from toilets and sewage systems. Sanitization is almost always required after a black water spill.
Depending on the type of water spill, the restoration company will evaluate the necessary restoration strategy.
What Should I Do If My Hardwood Floor is Flooded?
Find the Water Flooding Source and Stop It
In order to stop the water damage from getting worse, your first step is to find the source of the spill and stop it. For example, with a leaky pipe, you could shut off the water in the house and place a bucket and towel under the leak.
Move Furniture, Carpets, and Rugs off the Hardwood Floor
If you have furniture, carpets, or rugs on your hardwood floor, move them somewhere else. The carpets and rugs, in particular, will be soaked. The longer they stay on the hardwood, the more water will seep from them into the floor and damage it.
Dry Your Floor as Much as Possible
The first 24 hours are crucial for saving or limiting the damage done to your hardwood floor.
Unless you have an industrial dryer on hand, you’ll have to make do with things lying around the house. Use towels to soak up as much of the water from the hardwood as you can. If you have a dehumidifier, use it to take away the humidity and start the drying process. If it’s a windy day, consider opening up the doors and windows to let the air flow dry the hardwood.
Look for Mold
You will be amazed to learn that mold can start growing within 48 to 72 hours of water
flooding! If you don’t catch it quickly, it will settle and begin spreading, at which point you’ll have to call in professionals to deal with the resulting mold damage. Mold is pervasive and very good at hiding, but professionals will know where to look for it.
Don’t Sand the Hardwood before Checking the Equilibrium Moisture Content (ECM)
If your floors have water damage, you might be tempted to start the restoration process right away. But you absolutely should not sand hardwood until the moisture content has fallen to normal levels.
The best way to establish your moisture content is to take a measurement from a section of hardwood unaffected by the flood. This will tell you the ‘base’ or ‘normal’ measurement against which you will compare the flooded area. The Equilibrium Moisture Content (ECM) should be around 20%.
Once you have measured your affected area’s ECM, you need to wait for it to dry and get rid of the excess moisture before sanding it.
What Influences the Extent of the Damage?
Amount of Water during the Flood
The amount of water that ended up on your hardwood floor is crucial in determining the resulting damage. Three inches of water sitting on your hardwood will do a lot more damage than a quarter-inch-deep spill.
Amount of Time the Hardwood was Flooded
Another significant factor is how long the hardwood floor was flooded. If you were able to clean it up quickly, you could probably get away with minor repairs. However, if the hardwood remained underwater for more than 24 hours, the damage would probably be extensive enough to require replacing the floor entirely.
The Type of Hardwood
The type of timber on your floors will also determine the extent of the damage.
Hardwood floors are made from hardwoods like oak, maple, and ash. These woods are water-resistant because they are dense. The hardest woods are hickory and pecan, and they are more effective at withstanding water damage than oak, maple, and ash.
Pine, aspen, and cedar are considered to be “soft” woods. They are not as dense as hardwoods, and floors made from them will be easily damaged by water.
What Sort of Damage Can Hardwood Flooring Sustain?
There are several ways that water can damage your hardwood floor.
Cupping is when moisture soaks into the edges of a wooden plank, causing the edges to expand and lift up and create a dip along the middle of the board.
Crowning is the opposite of cupping. Moisture sets in the middle of the wood plank, causing it to bulge upward along the center of the board.
- Moisture and water damage can create black or white stains on your hardwood.
- Black stains are a sign that the water damage is extensive. They’re caused when water has infiltrated the floor and penetrated deep into the fibers of the hardwood.
- White stains signify that the water has affected only the wood’s finish. In this case, restoration is easier and the hardwood floor can usually be repaired rather than replaced.
Whatever Your Hardwood Damage, Valley Restoration and Construction Is Here for You
Valley Restoration and Construction has the expertise and equipment needed to repair and restore your hardwood floors from damage caused by water and flooding.
We have seen and restored all types of water damage on hardwood. We have extensive expertise and professional experience to save your floor, repair it, or replace it after a flood or severe water damage.
If you have water damage or flooding, call us now at 970-964-4437 or contact us online. We answer our phones 24/7 and will be over in a jiff to secure your home and mitigate the damage.