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One of the benefits to having a pier and beam home instead of a home built on a slab is the ability to see under the home as well as use the crawlspace area to run wiring, plumbing, etc. But sometimes, just like any other system within a home, things can go haywire and cause a lot of damage. In this post, we’ll discuss sewage spills in crawlspaces.
Why do sewage spills occur in crawlspaces?
There are usually 2 scenarios that occur that cause sewage water damage in a home’s crawlspace:
– a sewage backup occurs and spills out into the crawlspace. In this case, the main sewer line can become clogged, and when you go to flush a toilet, the water can’t exit the home but instead comes back up the pipe and finds its way into your crawlspace.
– a pipe that is designed to carry the sewage to the main line and out to the street cracks or otherwise breaks sending sewage spilling out into your crawlspace.
Both scenarios are obviously bad situations given the toxic nature of raw sewage. But they’re also particularly bad because they may happen over a long period of time unbeknownst to the homeowner. If you’re like most people, you’re probably not in the habit of checking under your home often to make sure everything is working properly so it may be months before you begin to smell the problem or otherwise discover problems related to the water damage. What typically happens is someone notices some plumbing issues, only to call a plumber, who inspects the crawlspace and finds several inches of waste and sewage water in the area. Because they can’t safely work in these conditions, they’ll ask that you call a water damage company like us to cleanup the mess before they come in and actually fix the plumbing issue the resulted in the spill.
What problems can arise from sewer waste in my crawlspace?
There’s a host of very serious issues that can arise when a black water category loss occurs under your home. Here’s just a few of things that can happen:
– The soil can become contaminated and send toxic fumes into the air which can enter your living area and make you sick. It can also decontaminate any mechanical systems you might have in your crawlspace. For instance, the sewage can soak your home’s HVAC duct work, which means any air passing through the ducts would carry airborne fungi, bacteria, and other harmful viruses.
– Mold growth can occur. Any time you have home water damage, you run a very great risk of incurring mold damage if the moisture problem isn’t corrected immediately. That’s especially true when it comes to this type of loss where it can continue over a long period of time. With water sitting in your crawlspace, that creates the excess moisture mold needs to begin growing. Once it starts, it can wreak havoc on any concrete walls, wood beams and support structures, insulation, or any other organic substance it can latch on to.
– Weakening or collapse of floor support joists. With enough moisture and mold damage, the wooden structures that support your home’s floors and walls can ultimately give way and collapse.
How is the area cleaned, sanitized and properly repaired?
The process for cleaning water damage caused by raw sewage in a crawlspace is not much different than any other form of sewage cleanup we would do. The thing that we must stress here is that while you might have the stomach to perform the cleanup duties, there’s virtually no chance you’ll be able to properly assess the damage, cleanup and disinfect the area, or repair any mold problems or structural issues that might be present. At best, you’re going to be putting a band aid on a bad situation that will only fester as time goes on. But when it comes to cleanup up sewage spills in a crawlspace, our water damage mitigation company will perform the following steps:
– Contain the area. We’ll seal off the crawlspace and disable any mechanical systems that may pass airborne pathogens into the home.
– Remove any items that can’t be salvaged. While there usually isn’t much in a crawlspace, sometimes people store boxes of items in there. In most cases, porous items will need to be discarded. Anything that can be saved will be taken off site and properly treated and dried. Any insulation that has been damaged will also be removed and safely thrown away.
– Clean and decontaminate. This includes not only the sewage, but also any mold growth that has occurred. We will test all areas of your crawlspace to determine whether or not the area is contaminated from the sewage, as well as perform visual and environmental sampling to test for elevated mold growth if we determine the sewage spill occurred more than 72 hours prior to our arrival. Once we’ve identified the areas that need to be cleaned, we get to work and use powerful disinfecting sprays (with a much higher effectiveness than bleach or other store bought cleaning supplies you may consider cleaning up with) and drying equipment. We will also thoroughly clean any mechanical systems that have been affected by the sewage.
– Repair any damaged areas. If we detect structural weakening in any floor joists or subfloor due to a prolonged spill, we will either perform the water damage repair process ourselves or hire a reputable 3rd party contractor to fix the structural issues.
As always, if you’ve discovered any type of water loss on your property we would encourage you to call an emergency water restoration company like us. Our first order of business will be to assess the loss, apprise you of your options, and determine the best course of action to get the property clean and safe quickly and cost-effectively!