How sewer backup can originate and demo that can be required by its water mitigation!
Water mitigation in your home is never something somebody wishes to experience, but a septic tank or sewer backup is the worst. The odor is horrendous, it is grossly unsanitary, and many components that would be salvageable with other water losses are not with this one.
Sewage backups can be cause by a number of incidents, but the one I see most often is heavy rain. Heavy rain, when it is massive enough to over flow the drainage for your area will cause a water pressure backflow into any pipe that does not have greater pressure. This would include sanitary sewer lines. Even old septic check valves can fail allowing this back pressure to enter a home.
Another incident that is I’ve seen on a number of occasions is caused by city or township workers clearing out clogged or dirty drainage systems and causing a back pressure incident in someone’s home. If an event like this occurs, it should be well documented with photos of the damage and simultaneous photos of the work getting done, so that the incidents are clearly linked and not independent of each other. Keep in mind, sometimes blockages that cause the backup happen and the work crews are just there to clear the blockage that has caused the backup, and are not the cause of the problem itself.
Tree roots are a common cause of backups in a home. These tend to cause the sewer from the home to backup before it meets the city system. Backups from tree roots usually do not affect more than one home or building at a time, because the blockage is usually at a point before it meets the city or town sewer system. Having a plumber or specialized drain cleaner come out and clear the lines with a rooter snake is a must before mitigation can begin in earnest. Without the plumber clearing the line the backup will continue, however, it can be slowed by ceasing to use the water in the structure until the blockage is clear.
One important note regarding sewer damage is that the water can sometimes be clear. This fact confuses many people, especially because sewage damage is commonly referred to as “black” water in the restoration industry. This term indicates the unsanitary conditions of the water, not its color. Just because the water looks clear does not mean it isn’t sewage water.
Any porous materials affected by sewage water should be removed and replaced. This would include: carpet with padding, and particleboard cabinet or furniture, and even drywall and insulation. The area should be cleaned and sanitized. Sometimes air scrubbers and other equipment like hydroxyl generators and ozone machines are needed to clean the air space as well. Only solid non-porous materials can be dried, this would include: framing, sheathing like plywood, masonry like stone or block, and concrete. Layers are a problem as well. If for example there are three layers of plywood, each of which would be salvageable on its own, but together they create layers that can hold onto contaminates from the water even when dried. All materials should be examined with the questions as to whether the water, and therefore contaminates, can get into pockets of the material in question.
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