Start cleanup immediately

Before starting sewage cleanup, protect yourself from stinking, bacteria-ridden sewage by donning rubber boots, gloves, and a mask. Once protected, begin the following:

  • Shovel solids into a heavy plastic bag and dispose in a trash receptacle.
  • Soak up liquid with paper towels or rags, and dispose in plastic bags.
  • Use a wet/dry vac for small areas or to suck up any remaining puddles. (You’ll have to unclog drains before you can dispose of contents.)
  • Tape a path of plastic sheeting to the floor to avoid soiling other parts of the house.
  • Place all affected items—damaged or undamaged—outside to air out.
  • Tear up and throw out carpets and rugs.
  • Thoroughly mop the area with a solution of bleach and water mixed 1:1.

Unfortunately, only time will get rid of the odor. Help sewage cleanup by opening windows and using box fans and dehumidifiers to air out the area for up to a week.

Bring in the pros

Cleanup specialists: Professionals, such as SERVEPRO, will do the sewage cleanup work for you—pump out and wipe up the gunk, deodorize, and restore carpets and floors, if possible. Equipment they’ll use includes fans, air scrubbers, and dehumidifiers. Sewage cleanup and restoration will cost you between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on how big the space and how high the sewage. Make sure you check with your insurance agent to see what’s covered.

Septic specialists: If you have a backed-up septic tank, you’ll need a septic specialist, probably the same company that regularly empties your tank, or a plumber that provides emergency drain cleaning services. The cost to pump out a septic tank typically is $250. Tank repairs can range from $150 (replace a pipe) to $5,000 (replace your entire tank).

City sewer workers: If you’re tied into a city sewer system, call the sewage department to make sure your clog is not part of a citywide problem. If it is, the city will handle it.

Drain clearers: If there’s a problem on your own property between the city sewer and your home, like a clogged line, a plumber or drain-clearing specialist, like Roto-Rooter, will charge $150 to $300 to clear the line.