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BUILDING DAMAGE ASSESSMENT & REPAIR
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN BUILDINGS
BIOLOGICAL POLLUTANTS in the HOME - EPA
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
CRAWL SPACE SAFETY ADVICE
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DISASTERS: BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
DISINFECTING BUILDINGS with BLEACH
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
FLOOR TILE ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
HEATING OIL EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
HOME INSPECTOR DIRECTORY
INDOOR AIR HAZARDS TABLE
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOLD
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
OIL TANKS INSPECT LEAK TEST ABANDON REGS
OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
PAINTS & COATINGS ODORS IN BUILDINGS
RENTERS & TENANTS GUIDE TO INDOOR HAZARDS
ROT, TIMBER ASSESSMENT
SAFETY for SEPTIC INSPECTORS
SEPTIC BACKUP REPAIR
METHANE GAS HAZARDS
SEPTIC & CESSPOOL SAFETY
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in BUILDINGS
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT METHODS
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Sewer backup or overflow cleanup procedures: this article provides a list of septic or sewage backup cleaning procedures, recommendations and standards for buildings. Citing expert sources we describe the key steps in evaluating, cleaning up & disinfecting a building where there has been a sewage spill. We include safety procedures as well as explanatory details. We include a list of sewage spill cleanup guidelines & standards articles in PDF format.
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Advice for Disinfecting & Drying Out a Sewage Contaminated Building
In planning for the clean-up of a sewage contaminated building, there are important considerations that an onsite expert would consider, such as the safety of building entry, health risks to occupants in other building areas, the scope of clean-up work needed, what materials can be salvaged and what items should be discarded, and the protection of other building areas during cleanup, such as a consideration of the ease with which air or dust can move from a contaminated area into the occupied building space.
An appropriate response to sewage spills in a building goes beyond dumping some kitty litter on the ground.
Following other sewage backup cleaning steps given just below we include a source list of documents describing what experts advise at SEWAGE CLEANUP STANDARDS. This article is adapted from those documents.
Steps in an Effective Approach to Cleaning up a Sewage Spill
Watch out: failure to include this washing step means that disinfection / sanitizing, performed next, is likely to be ineffective.
Additional cleaning: detergent washing & crack cleaning:
Residual organic matter in cracks and crevices can be removed by pressure washing with a disinfectant solution.
The [pressure washing] solution then must be recovered with an extraction unit, immediately after application, to prevent further migration or saturation of contaminants into other porous materials. - Morey (2007)
Dehumidifiers + Fans: When weather does not suggest opening building windows (rain, winter with heat on) one or more dehumidifiers combined with additional portable fans that stir building air will dry out a wet area far more quickly than the use of either a dehumidifier or a fan alone.
Watch out: if the area has become mold contaminated fans stir airborne mold spores - an unsafe condition that requires use of a HEPA-filter respirator for working in the area and careful containment to avoid blowing contaminated dust into other building areas.
Open windows + Fans: For dry clear weather an alternative dry-out procedure for wet building interiors can be followed using open windows. To avoid cross-contamination of other building areas it's best if the wet area is under negative air pressure with respect to the rest of the building. Fans blowing out from some windows can help speed air movement through the wet area.
Watch out: fans, portable air conditioners & dehumidifiers used to move air containing sewage-contaminated droplets or airborne dust from the contaminated area will themselves become contaminated, unsanitary, and should not be re-used afterwards without cleaning or if that's not economical they should be replaced.
Generally it won't make sense to both run a dehumidifier and have windows open - you would be trying to dehumidify the whole world.
Using bleach to disinfect a sewage spill area: If you are using bleach follow these guidelines & warnings
Inspect the interior of air handlers that are in or close to the sewage-backup area. Inspect for evidence of sewage waters entering HVAC ducts - for example if sewage water entered a ceiling where ductwork is also routed.
Watch out: if HVAC equipment that moves air through the building was operated during the time of sewage contamination or sewage backup cleaning, that equipment and ductwork may be contaminated by unsanitary dust even if actual sewage liquid waste never entered therein.
Simply noticing muddy of sewage-waste footprints passing out of the work area is evidence of floor contamination. Testing for contaminated dust or for high levels of sewage pathogens may mean a few surface tests for sewage contaminants in the living area, starting with the most-suspect areas of floors. If you need to take this step check with a certified environmental test lab licensed for your state or province to ask what swab or tape lift or other sampling methods the lab recommends.
Also see SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION and see Septic Pump Alarm Systems
See CRAWL SPACE GROUND COVERS and CRAWL SPACE VAPOR BARRIER - also see CRAWL SPACE DRYOUT - home to be sure there are not other sources of water entry into the crawl area.
The following articles giving excellent examples of sewage backup response procedures for buildings, including a discussion of the health concerns, cleaning procedures, special considerations for carpeting and other materials, and even disposal of sewage or wastewater backup cleaning wastewater. I have bold-faced the most helpful documents below.
Also see our citations at References
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