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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: iwasjustwondering on September 13, 2015, 02:35:12 PM

Title: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: iwasjustwondering on September 13, 2015, 02:35:12 PM
The sewer line backed up into my house this morning.  It filled the slop sink next to the washing machine in the laundry room, and overflowed by what I would guess is 5 gallons.  The laundry room and the adjoining family room have porcelain tile floors.  The laundry room floor was soaked, and the water seeped into the family room, entering about a foot of the family room floor (the rest of the family room floor was dry).

So we had a plumber come to fix the sewer line problem.  Then the remediation people came.  They are saying that the entire family room needs remediation.  The bottom 2 feet of wallboard and baseboard in the family room needs to be cut out, and then we need anti-mold chemicals, dryers, air scrubbers, etc., to the tune of $5800.  The house will be unlivable if we don't do this.

My bf thinks we can skip the professional remediation and do it ourselves, and that the walls are NOT wet at all (I do see his point -- I saw how far the water got into the family room, and it did not get to the walls). 

Thoughts?  Anyone been through this?
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: Rural on September 13, 2015, 05:10:52 PM
No advice, just wanted to say I thought I'd had a bad weekend (refrigerator died and I fell off a ladder). But yours is worse! My sympathies, and good luck!
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: MDM on September 13, 2015, 05:19:41 PM
Try a bleach solution.  E.g., see  $5800 seems overpriced, but hard to tell for sure from the internet.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: Exflyboy on September 13, 2015, 05:22:50 PM
Its probably BS.

You need to fix the root cause of course.. the sewer line going to the main will be blocked with something/collapsed or plugged with a tree root.

I assume you don't have a septic system?

As for remediation... just spray a lot of bleach.. if it did get into thr wall board in places, remove  damaged part of wallboard and insulation and spray inside with bleach and replace.

All of this is DIY-able, even replacing the sewer line if your brave.
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: iwasjustwondering on September 13, 2015, 05:45:30 PM
I'm definitely not brave, EFB, but the boyfriend is.  Right now it looks like Clorox wipes got flushed (not mustachian to use them, but in my defense, my 12yo loves to clean with them and I was trying to encourage his helping out around the house).  So he apparently didn't believe me when I told him you can't flush them.  He believes me now.  So yes, the root cause has been fixed.  :)

There's a chance that there's *also* a break in the main sewer line.  If that is the case, I'll deal with it.  The line is 10 feet below ground, so I am not sure we could DIY that. 

I'm using bleach for now.  I called insurance to see if this is covered, and I'll find out tomorrow.

Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: hops on September 13, 2015, 06:10:33 PM
Professional remediation services will often use scare tactics to take advantage of frightened or overwhelmed people. That may not be the case here, but it'll be interesting to hear what your insurance company has to say about the remediation recommendations.

When I was in a similar situation, I felt the Servpro salesman was blatantly predatory. The quote he provided was ludicrous: thousands of dollars for moving some books (from a room that hadn't been damaged when another part of my apartment sustained water damage) and eye-popping miscellany like $75 for wiping down two plastic chairs (again from an undamaged room). When I declined, he tried to strong-arm me by saying he personally knew the contractor who'd be fixing the apartment and that the contractor demanded the apartment be emptied in its entirety.

That was a lie; the complex manager (the complex's insurance covered all of my repairs, and I never needed to file a claim of my own) had already said to stash all of my belongings in the rooms that had stayed dry. When I told the salesman that if the contractor truly needed the apartment emptied, I'd empty it myself, he was suddenly willing to cut the price in half. What a weasel.
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: Sojourner on September 13, 2015, 07:22:39 PM
What was the duration of the spill?  How long were the walls exposed to the effluent?

If it was only 5 gallons or so and only wet for a short time then mopped up, you can probably just let it dry out or use fans.  If it was a brief, minor issue that's been promptly corrected, you can probably just do a DIY cleanup and be okay.  Keep an eye on it (mold, etc.), but I doubt it will become a problem unless it was a long term moisture problem.

If there is visible water damage to the drywall and the fluid was deep enough to wick up into the walls, a drywall guy can do the repair if you don't want to DIY.  Texture matching is the only tricky part.  If the wall texture is smooth it's much easier.

I agree, probably scare tactics by the cleanup people (based on your description).
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: Fishindude on September 14, 2015, 09:25:55 AM
Sounds like ridiculous advice given by a company trying to fleece you for a bunch of work that you don't need to have done.
Just clean it up good and do it yourself   Scrub things with a bleach solution to sanitize.
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: Greg on September 14, 2015, 11:21:17 AM
Just dry out the wet part yourself and tell the remediation folks no thanks.  They have to be careful but this is kind of ridiculous.
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: BlueHouse on September 14, 2015, 11:42:31 AM
First question:  you can't flush those clorox cloths?  uh oh. 

As for the remediation, did you call your insurance company?  When I had a toilet overflow and flood the entire unit below mine, my insurance company told me that it was no longer my worry -- it was their worry.  They would take care of everything, and they did.  They also calmed me down by reminding me how cheap drywall is.  get rid of anything and everything that may make you unhealthy in the future and let insurance pay whatever it costs.
Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: iwasjustwondering on September 15, 2015, 08:48:08 PM
Bluehouse, that's what I did.  Insurance is covering everything.  The first remediation guys wanted $5800 plus tax.  They were going to remove wallboards that I *know* from seeing the flood myself had not been touched.  So we went with Servpro, who are charging less than half of that.  The basically ripped out the bottom shelves of the closets in the laundry room (which are particle board, and which were visibly swelling from the moisture), and the baseboards.  Then they cleaned, and they have left behind some dryers.  Once the insurance company heard about the flood, they were not comfortable without professional remediation, so the choice was no longer mine.

And no, you really should not flush those Clorox wipes!!!

Title: Re: Sewage backup -- need advice
Post by: Sibley on September 16, 2015, 01:44:20 PM
If it's not specifically toilet paper or being excreted from your body, it can't be flushed. Doesn't matter if it says it's safe to flush. It's not. Go read all the articles about wet wipes for your bum that's clogging up sewer systems all over the world if you need proof.