Recent Biohazard Posts

Biohazard Cleanup

4/20/2021 (Permalink)

It’s hard to imagine anything worse than a sewage backup in your basement

Whether you have a finished or unfinished basement, a sewage backup can cause a tremendous amount of damage and, let’s face it, it’s just disgusting.

While it can be distressing there is no cause for panic; it is possible to get the backup cleaned up and return your home to its previous condition.

Before you begin to tackle clean up it’s important to remember that a sewage backup is far different from any other kind of flooding.

That’s because raw sewage contains bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other contaminants so it’s important to take certain safety measures before you attempt to clean up. 

First Take Safety Precautions

Most utilities enter your home through the basement, so before you even think of handling fluids that have gathered there you need to make sure that the utilities are shut off. 

If your electric box is above the waterline, you can safely shut off the power yourself, otherwise, you should call the electric company and let them do it, but do not try to start cleanup until the power is off.

You’ll also want to ensure that there is no gas leak in the basement. It may be difficult with the presence of sewage but try and smell for a gas leak.

If you notice any signs of a gas or electric problem, including sparks, smoke or buzzing, call your utility company immediately and do not enter the basement.

Once you have ensured that the basement is safe to enter, you’ll want to shut off the main water valve to prevent any further water build-up.

Also, make sure that the plumbing in your house is not used while you are cleaning the basement as using sinks or flushing toilets could make the backup worse.

Next Prepare To Clean

Now that you’ve secured the area you need to take steps to prepare yourself for the cleanup job.

Because raw sewage is full of contaminants, you should be sure to wear protective clothing while handling it, including goggles, a ventilator, a face mask, rubber gloves, and rubber boots. 

Also, wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt and cover any cuts or open wounds with a waterproof bandage to help prevent infection.

Of course, contaminants aren’t the only nasty issue you’ll have to deal with during cleanup.

The smell of raw sewage can be overpowering so you need to ensure that the basement is well ventilated so that you aren’t overcome by the fumes.

Open windows or vents where possible and position fans at the top of the stairs to draw in the fresh air and don’t forget to take regular breaks to avoid getting sick from the smell.

Begin Cleanup

The first step of cleanup should be removing the backed up fluids and solids, which can be done with either a pump, a Shop Vac or a simple mop and bucket depending on the severity of the backup.

Many home improvement stores rent pumps and heavy-duty Shop Vacs for this purpose.

Whether you use a pump or a Shop-Vac, make sure you choose one with a wide enough hose so that it will work effectively without becoming clogged. 

With a pump, direct the hose out of the basement and make sure it is discharging the sewage outside and away from the foundation of your house.

A Shop Vac can also be very effective, just make sure you choose one with a large tank capacity and do not empty it into any sinks while the cleanup is in progress.

Shop Vacs are particularly useful for getting into tight spaces and corners so you can ensure that every inch of the basement is clean.

A mop and bucket can be equally effective, though it is more labor-intensive. Use a small shovel to clean up solid waste or apply warm water to dissolve solids, then soak up the liquid sewage with the mop and wring it out in the bucket.

Empty solid waste into heavy-duty garbage bags and be careful not to overfill them.

Any wood or fabric items that have become soaked will most likely need to be disposed of as wood, fabric, and particleboard will soak up the liquid, allowing it to seep in deeper and affect the structure itself.

Carpeting and carpet padding will also have to be ripped up and disposed of, using heavy-duty garbage bags to prevent leaks.

Wash and Disinfect

Once the sewage has been removed you can start the two-step process of washing and disinfecting. Use warm water and a mild detergent to wipe down all items and surfaces and then disinfect with a combination of one gallon of water and 1 ¼ cups of bleach.

Mix up a new batch of disinfectant every 20 to 30 minutes to make sure it remains effective.

Wipe down all large items with a rag and use a spray bottle on flat surfaces, then allow to air dry.

Don’t Forget Your Insurance

While most sewage backups may not be covered by a standard homeowner’s policy, it’s still a good idea to thoroughly document the damage before you start cleanup so that you have the necessary proof if you decide to file a claim.

You can check with your insurance agent to determine exactly what is covered in your particular policy.

Don’t Hesitate To Call In The Professionals

Though you may feel perfectly capable of handling a minor sewage backup in your basement, it’s always a good idea to call a professional water mitigation company to ensure that the job is done right.

Have more questions?

You don’t want to take any chances with the health and safety of your family, and professionals like SERVPRO of Southern Delaware County & West Chester are equipped to handle any emergency quickly and expertly so that you can breathe easier.

Why Rely On The Professionals?

Professional water mitigation companies like SERVPRO have the training and equipment to handle even the worst sewage backup.

We are ready to respond 24 hours a day and will arrive at your home as quickly as possible to begin the cleanup process.

We’ll employ professional-grade pumps, drying systems and sewage containment equipment to ensure that the backup is cleaned thoroughly and safely.

There’s more to water mitigation than just cleaning up the spill, however, and we’re prepared to handle that too.

We can also clean air ducts and provide thorough mold remediation to prevent any further mold growth.

We’ll help to preserve your belongings and restore your home to its previous condition and we’ll even help you to work with your insurance company to facilitate any potential claims.

When Clean Up Is Done

Once the backup has been thoroughly cleaned up, either by yourself or a professional water mitigation company, you can then safely address the underlying cause to prevent any future backups.

Remember, cleaning up a sewage backup in your basement should be handled quickly and carefully to avoid endangering your family.

That’s why your best option is to rely on the services of a professional water mitigation company like SERVPRO.

We’ll arrive faster to any disaster and treat your home as if it were our own.

Call Danielle 610-506-8919

Hoarding Or Collecting?

5/19/2017 (Permalink)

Know The Signs - SERVPRO of West Chester has handled many of these upsetting situations and is here to help.

We used to tease my mom that she was a QVC hoarder because she used to buy and buy and buy to the point that three spare bedrooms would be piled high with boxes and most were unopened. When we would ask her about this, she’d always say, “It was a terrific Today’s Special Value.” Since she has limited mobility, she thought it was a good idea to have plenty of “gifts” on hand. While this is not exactly a Reality TV-worthy hoarding story, our family faced an uphill battle getting this to stop. Sorry QVC, we had to cut her off from making those 2am calls anymore, however all of her purchases were indeed special. While this is a light-hearted example, hoarding can be a serious situation impacting someone’s health, safety and family harmony.

Hoarding is categorized as a biohazard due to the substances that might be found in your home, apartment, or commercial building. During hoarding situations there could be a wide range of things you could find from house supplies and magazines to hazardous materials and animal waste or remains. Typically, when SERVPRO of West Chester is called out to a hoarding cleanup job, it  may include not just the removal of items, but also the recovery and restoration of useful and valuable objects. SERVPRO of West Chester will always advise the homeowner to check to see if your insurance company will cover this situation or if it will be a self-pay.

If you are property manager, a real estate agent, estate lawyer, banker or a concerned family member here are some tips SERVPRO of West Chester asks you to keep in mind when assisting a client. The most important thing is that the “hoarder” lives in a safe environment. If the individual has been moved out of the property permanently, getting the house cleaned out cleaned up and back on the market becomes the next necessary steps. SERVPRO of West Chester can help you do this safely and efficiently.

Hoarding Tips:

  • Hoarders see objects having significant value

  • Often begins during adolescence around the age of 13 or 14

  • Often environmentally related

  • Depression is often related

  • Most hoarders have Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Consequences are more than a messy home- unsanitary living environment now exist

  • Increased risk of fires for occupants and their neighbors

    • Accumulation of objects

    • Blocked exits

    • Unsafe cooking and heating environment – 39% of fires in hoarding homes result from cooking

  • Safety and health risks to people, animals, and the community

Recently, I heard of a situation where a vibrant working woman about 52 years of age, took a fall and ended up unable to get around. She had no local family for support. Within a relatively short period of time, her world collapsed around this successful nurse. She lost her job and depression kicked in, she couldn’t move much while recuperating so the pets weren’t able to go outside. You get the picture. Eventually she lost her house and moved across country to a relative’s house. However, the bank now needed to get it back in shape to resell it to get it off its books.

Our SERVPRO of West Chester technicians will follow a specific contents management process and then move on to the deodorization of the scene to eliminate any and all existing odors that could have come from a number of sources. If more cleanup is necessary like, carpet cleaning, mold removal, or water damage; SPWC will put together an efficient plan  handle the reconstruction efforts.  Communnication is the key- and we provide daily and weekly updates throughout the process.

If you have inherited or are struggling with a hoarding situation, or simply want some help with your mundane spring cleaning, help is available.

SERVPRO of West Chester is certified in handling hoarding or bio-hazardous clean-ups, as well as carpets, drapes, blinds, upholstery, dryer vent and HVAC vent cleaning and much more. If it’s messy, dirty, stinky, smoky, or plain disgusting, call us to support your residential and/or commercial property needs. Reach us 24/7 at 610-692-8444 or at

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Blog by By Jeannie McGinn, Director of Sales & Markeiting at SERVPRO of West Chester