Blackwater, what it is and what to do about it
Blackwater is bacteria carrying wastewater from sewage and other contaminants that can cause diseases and pollute the environment, including drinking water. Blackwater can be caused by sewer leaks, damage to a sewer system, or a neglected sewage system. Technically, a toilet overflowing onto the bathroom floor could be considered blackwater but the typical toilet overflow can usually be cleaned up with a mop, rubber gloves and sanitized with some bleach.
Long-term toilet leaks, however, that seep into the floor and under the house are an entirely other thing and may cause damage requiring trained professionals. SERVPRO, the company that helps remediate water damage in Pismo Beach, is the 24-hour service to call to help remediate any kind of water damage, including blackwater.
A toilet that frequently overflows can be a sign of other problems that might be related to a failing sewage system, leading to blackwater contamination. Broken or leaking sewer pipes, a failed septic system, even severe earthquakes and storms can contribute to blackwater.
Regional emergency precautions are available for protecting you from blackwater after a major disaster, but when the emergency is over and the time comes for repairs to your property, the Pismo Beach water damage company will work with your insurance company.
Your family’s health and safety are important and SERVPRO is providing the following guidelines to help you reduce personal and property exposure to contaminants from blackwater.
If you see any signs of a sewage leak or sewage system damage, or even suspect at problem, call the 24-hour SERVPRO number (805) 473-0772 then take the following precautions:
- Clear the affected area and close it off if possible.
- Wear rubber boots and gloves, and a mask if you have to enter any contaminated area
- Turn off the power
- Turn off water connections
- Stop up all drain openings using plugs and hard solid material to prevent flow or backup. Extra weight might be required to fully plug drains.
- Plug toilets with wadded rags
- Turn off heating and air conditioning systems and block any floor vents to prevent the flow from reaching them
- Don’t move anything out of an affected area or attempt to clean anything, including furniture, rugs, walls or the floor
- Bathe or shower everyone and all pets that have come in contract with contaminated water as soon as possible
- Place any contaminated clothing in plastic bags to minimize spread of the contamination
How to identify affected areas
Analyzing an area for contamination is the job of the professionals. For safety, assume that any area associated with sewage that is wet is contaminated. If you have found a sewage leak or broken sewage pipe, close off the entire area and keep people and pets from entering. Signs of blackwater presence include:
- Any wet area from an overflow, a leaking or broken sewage pipe, or near a septic tank
- Sewage smell in a specific area
- Visible fecal material in a wet area
- Wet, damp, or moldy areas under the house where pipes may be leaking
Contact SERVPRO as soon as possible to get water damage and decontamination started. Water is particularly invasive, quickly spreading throughout your property and being absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, and every place else within minutes. SERVPRO of Pismo Beach / Arroyo Grande arrives quickly and starts the water extraction process almost immediately.