Sewer back up results when the volume of water and sewage flowing into a sewer system exceeds its capacity. Other causes of sewer back up include blocked sewer connections caused by tree roots, collapsed sewer pipes or improper use of the sewer system.
Below are some things you can do to help prevent a sewer back up (pdf, 732 kb) in your home:
- Keep sewer caps on all basement sewer outlets (including your floor drain, washer stack, sump hole, etc.) during rainstorms.
- Install a sump pump and discharge drainage onto your lawn or driveway.
- Install an automatic sewer backwater flow valve.
- Disconnect all rainwater downspouts from your basement sewer system and cap disconnected standpipes.
- Extend all rainwater downspouts away from the foundation of your home.
- Ensure the flow of surface water is directed away from the foundation of your home and the foundations of your neighbours' homes.
- Avoid using water during heavy downpours.
What to do if a sewer back up occurs
- During a rainstorm, check your basement frequently. If it begins to flood, move your belongings upstairs or to a dry area to keep them safe.
- Contact your broker as soon as possible and they will arrange for an adjuster to contact you.
- Don't throw anything out. Store damaged items in a reasonably safe place so the adjuster can see them when they arrive.
- Prepare an itemized account of all damaged items and their value. Include receipts or proof of purchase for larger items.
Cleaning up after a sewer back up
- Clean up as soon as possible. Seek professional advice on how to clean up and take whatever steps you can to minimize the extent of your loss.
- Don't touch electrical systems or panels until you know it is safe to do so, especially in wet or damp conditions.
- Move damaged belongings to a dry area with good ventilation.
- Dispose of anything that has been contaminated by sewer back up that might be a health hazard. Make a detailed list of everything and take several photographs, or make a videotape, to assist in the settlement of your claim.
- Have any appliances (including furnaces) that have come in contact with water checked by a qualified electrician, dealer or serviceman before you use them.
- Disinfect all articles that have come in contact with flood or sewer water.
- Let rooms dry thoroughly before cleaning and repainting.
- Use a stiff broom or brush to sweep dirt from rugs and carpets. Then clean using a good rug shampoo that contains a disinfectant.
- Remove drawers from furniture before the wood swells. Dry furniture slowly and away from direct heat or sunlight, to avoid warping.
- Move upholstered furniture outdoors to air. When dry, vacuum thoroughly and then use a good upholstery shampoo that contains a disinfectant.
- Dry all books and papers slowing, away from direct heat or sunlight.
- Wash clothing several times, adding a bleach or disinfectant to the wash cycle if the fabric permits.