When can I clean a sewage spill myself and when do I need a professional?

Posted by CleanSafe on 05/02/18 in Advice and Sewage cleaning

A sewage spill, no matter what the size, will be teeming with dangerous bacteria and poses a serious risk to health. It’s imperative that any sewage is cleaned up immediately, as the longer it is left to stand, the more the bacteria inside multiply, creating more of a hazard.

But when is it safe to clean sewage yourself, and when should you get a professional company involved?

Is it safe to clean a small sewage backup myself?

If you’ve had a sewage spill of any size, the best course of action is always to call a professional, as they will have all of the necessary equipment and experience to deal with the contamination quickly and effectively. Attempting to deal with it yourself may result in improper cleaning, sickness or infection, or further damage to your home.

A small sewage spill, such as a toilet backup, may be safe to clean up yourself if:

  • the spill occurred on your own private property
  • it is very small and only contained to one room
  • it has not been left to stand for more than 24 hours
  • no electrical items or sockets have been affected
  • all occupants are fit and healthy

In any other circumstances, it is not recommended that you clean up the sewage yourself—and even in the above conditions it may not be the best idea. If you’re not sure, call a professional cleaning company straight away.

If you choose to clean the backup yourself, you must make sure to follow strict hygiene practices to prevent infection and illness. Take a look at our indoor sewage cleaning guide for more details on how to stay safe and clean effectively.

What are the hazards when cleaning sewage?

While the risk of disease or infection from sewage is well known, there are also other hazards to consider. While these may not be particularly severe in the case of a minor spillage, you should be aware of them for your own safety.

Sewage often contains a lot of water, which may come from the plumbing system or may be part of the waste itself. This therefore poses a risk of electrocution if there are any plug sockets, cables or electrical items in the vicinity, and the power should be shut off as soon as possible to prevent this. You should also be aware that if the leak is in an upper storey, the water may leak through the floor into the light fixtures below, so the risk is not necessarily contained to the immediate area.

As methane gas is often present from the decomposition of waste, you should never use an open flame near a sewage spill. You should not light matches, candles or cigarettes in the area until it has been fully cleaned and aired out.

Along with the unpleasant smells and gas caused by the sewage, strong cleaning chemicals such as bleach can cause serious health problems if they are inhaled or come into contact with your skin, so you must make sure to ventilate the affected area to prevent yourself from being overcome by the fumes. You should always follow the warnings on the cleaning products and protect yourself with gloves, waterproof shoes, coveralls and a protective face mask.

Call the experts to clean your sewage spill

Sewage leaks can be extremely dangerous to human and animal health, and even being around the contamination can lead to sickness. There is also a significant risk of damage to the fabric of your home and it’s easy to miss something that could cause a serious problem further down the line if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

If you’re in any doubt about whether it’s okay to clean the sewage yourself, stay safe and get in touch with CleanSafe straight away by calling 0800 668 1268.