When sewer lines become obstructed, the thick, black water that forms as sewage is a health hazard, and is extremely unsanitary as it contains contaminants such as pathogens, bacteria, and viruses that can present a risk of severe illness if exposed to people or pets. If you have a sewage backup in your basement, or your toilet has backed up, you will need to fix it quickly, or you will end up with dirty water all over your floors. Knowing what causes sewer backups, however, may help you prevent a hazardous occurrence in your basement, home or business. Here’s a list of items that may help to prevent and handle sewage backups:

Sewage Backup Causes

  • Heavy Rainfall – Excess rains can overpower your town or city’s storm sewer system. If this happens, the water can back up into the attached sewer lines placing your home or business in possible risk of water backflow. Increasing rivers and streams, hurricanes and other similar events can cause flood and sewage waters to blend and present serious health related dangers. You should be highly cautious when walking in this type of water, and even stay cautious after the water recedes and dries up. It’s viable for the organic matter to be aerosolized and respirable, meaning there’s a chance you could inhale it into your lungs. To prevent contact or risk of breathing in these contaminants, proper PPE should be worn at all times.
  • Tree Roots – Trees can have long roots that grow into water or sewer lines and crush or break them. Damage to pipes and a sewer backup can also be caused by tree roots that aren’t even on your land. Be acutely aware of any tree roots that can reach your water and sewer lines that lead to the central sewer line or septic system.
  • Old/Aging Sewer Pipes – Older and aging sewage structures are susceptible to breaking down and cracking, inducing sewer backups, flooded basements as well as entire home flooding. The older your area or home may raise the chance of this type of damage occurring.
  • Clogged and Blocked Drain Pipes – If your home or business’s main sewer line or drain pipes become blocked, sewage may back up inside the dwelling. A fine example is: if a single toilet causes a sewage backup, the adjacent pipes connected to that toilet, or the main drain lines of more toilets, will also suffer backflow flooding.
  • Old and/or Damaged Lines – Older sewage systems have a propensity to suffer damage and crumble, leading to sewer water influx and flooded dwellings full of sewage. If your home or area is older, the probability is greater that you’ll experience damaged sewer lines than newer ones.
  • Copious Rainfall – Heavy and rapid rainfall can overpower your local storm sewer lines rapidly. If these public sewer lines can’t deal with excess waters, water can backup and flow into connected sewer lines. This can put your home or business at risk of backflow problems. Regional flood waters from events like surging rivers and creeks, hurricanes, or any rainy weather events can cause clean water to merge with sewage water and other chemicals and harmful toxins that cause serious health difficulties. Use extreme caution when moving on foot in this type of water, but also stay cautious when it dries. The dried organic matter can turn aerosolized and turn respirable. Correct PPE needs to be used at all times to prevent contact and risk inhaling polluted air.
  • Blocked/Clogged Pipes – A clogged pipe or sewer line can cause sewage to back up into your home or business. If only one toilet becomes fouled, the sewage backup can spread on to the sewer lines and influence all linked toilets on that line.
  • Roots from Trees – Tree roots can cause damage to water and sewer lines. The roots from huge trees can maneuver into and around the lines and damage them tremendously. If the roots under your property are not the cause, roots from closely located trees can grow under property lines and harm your sewer line, causing a sewage issue. Be extra aware of all tree roots near your mainline sewer pipes and/or pipes leading to your septic tank.

Our Cornelius, NC sewage cleanup and sanitation process

Our cleaning and remediation procedures for Category 3 water (which describes sewer and contaminated water backup) according to the standards put in place by the IICRC industry are:

1. Ensuring safety for all personnel and occupants by placing restrictions on site access to remediation personnel only in order to prevent health related occurrences.

2. Health & safety survey and complete building assessment.

3. Ensure all remediation personnel are supplied with the proper personal protection equipment (PPE). This may include but is not limited to:

  • Full face respirator
  • Nitrile and cut resistant gloves
  • Rubber boots with steel toes and shank
  • Full body suit protection

4. Implement established engineering controls, critical barriers, to prevent cross-contamination.

5. Eliminating any and all lingering safety risks if possible.

6. Removal of bulk water, soil, and contaminates.

7. Remove and dispose of all contaminated porous and semi-porous materials that are not able to be restored, which could include but is not limited to:

  • Hardwood flooring
  • Padded and upholstered items
  • Gypsum board
  • Carpet, rugs, pad, or underlayment
  • Vinyl flooring and underlayment

8. Implement cleaning processes and use of EPA registered biocides and antimicrobials

9. Full physical cleaning of all structure items that remain

10. A third-party Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) is recommended to perform clearance testing, to ensure the building is returned to a pre-loss condition for health and safety.

11. Drying of all items affected by the sewage intrusion back to pre-loss dry state

12. Post restoration cleaning of all tools and machinery used

13. Disposal of all demolished materials removed from the project

Call PuroClean for your Professional Cornelius, NC Sewage Cleanup Needs!

What happens if a sewer main backup occurs in your home or business? The right answer is: Call PuroClean! Simply because PuroClean technicians are your absolute professionals for sewage abatement and cleaning services. With state-of-the-art equipment and cleaning tools, we efficiently restore, remediate and completely cleanse the affected parts in your home or business.

PuroClean has proved time after time that our services and our specialists are top quality, efficient, and work with care and empathy for all involved. We are your ideal damage restoration and cleaning professionals and we pledge to do whatever needs to be done to save and restore all properties in the communities we serve.

*Not all PuroClean offices offer sewage cleanup and sanitation cleaning services.


Why can’t I clean up biohazard myself?

When a biohazard occurs, professionals are needed to clean and disinfect as improper treatment can spread contamination and lead to illness or life-threatening conditions. [...]

How can I keep my home sterilized when taking care of someone with COVID-19?

As with any virus, the Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and any respiratory droplets come in contact with another person.  Keeping a good distance from infected [...]

Why can’t I clean up biohazard myself?

When a biohazard occurs, professionals are needed to clean and disinfect as improper treatment can spread contamination and lead to illness or life-threatening conditions. [...]

What should I do in a social setting if someone closeby is coughing or sneezing?

If someone in close proximity to you is coughing or sneezing, be sure to maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) distance between yourself and the person who is coughing [...]

What does BBP mean?

Bloodborne pathogens (BBPs), as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), means pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans. These pathogens [...]