Interior Cleaning

How Much Does Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost?

Sewage backup and flooding is an unpleasant and unsanitary situation that is best handled by professionals. The average sewage backup cleanup cost ranges from $2,000 to $10,000.
Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost

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Highlights

  • Most homeowners spend between $2,000 and $10,000 on sewage backup cleanup costs.
  • The final cost of sewage backup cleanup depends on many factors, including the extent of damage, location and accessibility, materials affected, the type of sewage, and any necessary repairs or replacements.
  • Early warning signs of a major sewage backup include gurgling in pipes, slow drainage, persistent foul odors, and continual backups that get worse.
  • While it’s easy to clean up a small water leak from a washer or kitchen sink, any sewage backup that contains contaminated water should be properly cleaned by a professional. Restoration companies have protective gear to remove contaminated materials and can restore the home to a clean environment.
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Sewage backup cleanup may not be a topic most people like to discuss, but it’s an unfortunate reality for homeowners who have experienced this messy and unpleasant situation. Whether the backup is caused by a clogged sewer line, a tree root intrusion, or heavy rainfall, the aftermath of a sewage backup requires immediate attention and professional cleanup. Sewage backup cleanup cost can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the backup, the extent of the damage, and the location of the problem. On average, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for sewage cleanup. Factors that can contribute to variations in cost include the size of the affected area, the materials contaminated, and whether any additional repairs or replacements are needed. If a backup has resulted in damaged flooring, walls, or furniture, the cost will increase quickly. If the sewer line is clogged or damaged, a sewer line cleaner or plumber will need to be hired, which can add to the overall expense. It’s important to note that the sewage backup cleanup cost is not limited to the cleanup itself. Sewage cleanup typically involves tasks such as sewer line cleanout, incorporating a main line drain cleaner, and unclogging sewer lines. When calculating the total cost, it’s essential for homeowners to take into account these and other expenses like a possible main sewer line clog repair cost.

Factors in Calculating Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost

Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost
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A few factors contribute to the calculation of sewage backup cleanup costs. Local averages may vary based on regional differences in labor and material costs. Other factors influencing the overall expense include the extent of the damage, damage location and accessibility, materials affected, and sewage type.

Extent of Damage

A sewage backup is one of the most unpleasant and disruptive household issues that can occur. It not only poses serious health risks but can also cause extensive damage to personal belongings and the home. The sewage cleanup cost and restoration depends on the extent of the damage. If the sewage backup is confined to a small area, such as a single bathroom, the costs will likely be lower than for a situation where multiple rooms, floors, or the entire property is affected. Typically, the larger the area, the more expensive the cleanup cost. For significant backups that have damaged walls, floors, or other structural elements, flooring and drywall will often need to be replaced, which adds to the overall water damage restoration cost. If the backup happened over an extended period, it might have caused secondary damages, such as mold growth or structural deterioration.

Damage Location and Accessibility

The location of the sewage backup plays an important role in determining sewage backup cleanup costs. If the backup occurs in a single, easily accessible area, such as a ground-level bathroom or laundry room, professionals can quickly reach the affected area and start the cleanup process. Localized, easy access can result in lower overall costs since the time and effort required for cleaning up the mess is reduced. The proximity of the damaged area to the home’s main sewage line can also affect the cost. The closer the backup occurs to the primary sewage line, the easier it is to remove the waste and restore the sewage system. If the sewage backup occurs in a hard-to-reach area, such as a basement or a crawl space, the cleanup costs can significantly increase. These areas often require more extensive work and additional equipment such as pumps or specialized drying systems. Professionals might need to navigate through tight spaces or remove obstacles before they can even begin the cleaning process. As a result, the labor and time required for cleanup can rise, leading to higher costs.

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Materials Affected

The materials affected by the sewage backup play a significant role in determining the cost of the cleanup process. Sewage backup can infiltrate a wide range of items in a home, such as flooring, walls, furniture, and personal belongings. Each of these materials requires different techniques to clean, restore, repair, or ultimately replace.

  • Flooring. If the sewage backup reaches hardwood, rugs, or carpet, these items will most likely need to be replaced, leading to higher costs (such as carpet removal cost and carpet installation cost). If the backup affects tile, the cleanup process may be more manageable and the costs lower.
  • Walls and paint. If the sewage has penetrated drywall or wallpaper, then the wall may require extensive repairs, including the removal and replacement of damaged sections as part of the drywall repair cost. Repainting the walls will also add to the expense.
  • Furniture and appliances. Upholstered furniture, such as sofas and mattresses, can quickly absorb and retain sewage, making them challenging to salvage. In most cases, permeable furniture that’s contaminated needs to be disposed of and replaced. If an appliance was the culprit of the sewage backup, it’s possible a homeowner will need to factor in the cost to repair an appliance—or replace it altogether.
  • Personal belongings. The contamination of valuables and personal belongings affected by sewage backup can be emotionally distressing for homeowners. The cost to replace them depends on the value of the items damaged, which could include electronics, clothing, books, artwork, and sentimental pieces. The best water damage restoration services (like ServiceMaster Restore and ServPro) might be able to salvage certain belongings. (Reading a ServPro review, for example, can offer insights into the process of working with a professional restoration company.)
  • Structural damage. In severe cases, sewage backup or burst pipes due to clogged sewage can cause structural damage to a home. This includes weakened foundations, compromised insulation, or rotting wood. Repairing this type of damage requires extensive work, which can significantly raise the cost of cleanup and restoration. The damage may require that the homeowner investigate foundation repair costs to ensure their foundation is sound.

Sewage Type

The cost of sewage backup cleanup is not solely dependent on the extent of the damage or the level of contaminants present. Another important factor that influences the cleanup cost is the type of sewage involved, since the term “sewage” includes any waste water from showers, sinks, washers, dishwashers, and toilets. There are three categories of sewage, and only a licensed professional can determine the type of water damage and cleanup methods that are needed. Category 1 is clean water, Category 2 is gray water, and Category 3 is blackwater. Clean water refers to a source that does not cause substantial harm to humans, while gray water may contain some contaminants that can cause sickness or discomfort. Blackwater is highly contaminated with bacteria and viruses and poses a significant health risk. The more severe the contamination, the higher the cleanup cost.

Additional Costs and Considerations

When faced with a sewage backup, a homeowner’s immediate concern is to clean up the mess and get everything back to normal. However, it’s also important to take into account all the additional costs and factors that come into play when calculating the total cleanup cost. For example, homeowners may also need to consider the cost of a septic line cleaner, septic cleanout pipe services, plumbing cleanout, or the use of an outdoor drain snake to fully unclog the sewer line and prevent future backups. In some cases, a sewer cleanout cost might be included if the homeowner chooses to install one during the cleanup process. Besides the basic unclogging and cleaning expenses, other factors can significantly affect the final bill. These can include repairs to damaged structures, mold remediation efforts, replacement of ruined items, and whether there’s any coverage provided by homeowners insurance. For homeowners with a septic tank, sewage backup remediation can also include the cost of septic tank pumping, the best septic tank treatments, and the best septic tank cleaning services (such as Mr. Rooter or Roto-Rooter).

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Repairs

Once the initial cleanup is completed, the priority moves to restoring the property to its previous condition. The extent of repairs required depends on the severity of the sewage backup and the affected areas. This may include professional cleaning to remove the sewage, disinfection, and any necessary restoration work, such as replacing damaged drywall or flooring. Repair costs encompass fixing or replacing damaged walls, flooring, insulation, and other structural elements. If the sewage backup has compromised the integrity of the building materials, thorough repairs are necessary to ensure a safe living environment. If the issue is minor, such as a simple clog that overflowed into the bathroom, the repairs may be relatively straightforward and inexpensive. In rare situations, more severe issues can significantly drive up the cleanup costs. For example, if the sewer line has collapsed or suffered extensive damage, the repairs would be far more complex and costly. Excavation may be needed to access and replace the damaged sewer lines. This can involve digging up the backyard, removing trees, and possibly even rerouting the entire sewage line.

Mold Remediation

Sewage backups create an ideal environment for mold growth. The excess moisture and organic materials present in sewage act as a breeding ground for mold spores, which can quickly multiply and spread throughout the home. If left untreated, mold can cause extensive damage to the structure of the building, as well as various health issues for those exposed to it. Mold can lurk behind walls, under flooring, or in hidden areas that may not be immediately apparent during the initial cleanup. It’s important to have a mold inspector conduct a thorough investigation to identify if mold is present. While moisture detection tests are a good start, more sophisticated testing methods are recommended after a water disaster of any kind. If mold is detected, additional steps and specialized equipment are required for its remediation. Mold remediation involves the containment, removal, and treatment of mold-affected materials to ensure the elimination of mold spores and prevent future growth. The cost of mold remediation depends on the extent of mold growth, the type of mold present, and the affected areas. Specialized equipment and techniques may be required for thorough mold removal. Hiring one of the best mold removal companies (ServiceMaster Restore and ServPro are among top companies) will increase the cost but will help homeowners worry less about health issues that can arise in a moldy environment. On average, mold removal costs approximately $2,225.

Ruined-Item Replacement

The type and number of items affected by sewage backup will influence the overall cost of cleanup and restoration. If only a few small items (like towels or rugs) need to be replaced, the cost will be relatively low. But if larger and more expensive items (such as furniture, appliances, or flooring) are damaged beyond repair, the cost can increase significantly. The quality of the damaged items also makes a difference in the cost of replacement. If a home is furnished with high-end furniture or expensive electronics, the cost to replace these items will be higher than for homes with less expensive furnishings.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage

In some cases, homeowners insurance policies can offer financial assistance. The extent of coverage for sewage backup cleanup depends on the specifics of the insurance policy. Some insurance policies may offer coverage for both the cleanup and repair of the home, while others may only cover one or the other. Homeowners will want to speak with an agent to determine the advantages of including sewage backup coverage before an incident occurs. The best homeowners insurance companies (such as Allstate and Lemonade) may be able to help homeowners through the process of restoring their home to working order after sewage backup cleanup. For those who have a septic tank on their property, dealing with septic tank pumping and main line blockages can be a headache. Homeowners may want to consider the best home warranties for septic systems, such as Cinch Home Services or Choice Home Warranty, which can make dealing with septic tank sewage backups easier.

Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost by Type of Sewage

The type of sewage released during a backup significantly influences the cost of cleanup. The three categories as determined by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) are clean water, gray water, and blackwater, and the cleanup costs for each type vary based on the level of contamination and the complexity of the remediation process.

Type of SewageAverage Cost (Materials and Labor)
Clean water (Category 1)$3.50 per square foot
Gray water (Category 2)$5.25 per square foot
Blackwater (Category 3)$7.50 per square foot

Clean Water

This type of sewage backup usually occurs due to a malfunctioning appliance, a burst pipe that transports clean water, or leaky faucets and water heaters. Since clean water doesn’t pose any immediate health risks, the cleanup process is generally straightforward and less expensive. Costs mainly involve drying out the affected area, basic cleaning and disinfecting, and fixing the underlying issue. Hiring a professional to dry out a Category 1 clean water issue costs approximately $3.50 per square foot, depending on the material and the surface.

Gray Water

Category 2 gray water contains contaminants such as soap, detergent, and food particles. It typically results from overflowing sinks, bathtubs, or washing machines. While gray water may cause discomfort if ingested, it is not as hazardous as blackwater. Cleanup costs for Category 2 gray water sewage backups are usually higher than clean water incidents, as more extensive cleaning and disinfection are required. In some cases, repairs to damaged flooring or walls may be necessary. On average, gray water cleanup costs about $5.25 per square foot.

Blackwater

Blackwater is the most hazardous type of sewage backup, usually originating from toilet overflows or sewer line backups. This type of sewage contains fecal matter, harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that pose significant health risks. Due to the potential dangers associated with blackwater, cleaning and disinfection procedures are more complex, requiring specialized equipment and expertise. The cost to clean up blackwater incidents tends to be the highest, especially when structural repairs are needed, and cleanup costs for Category 3 blackwater average $7.50 per square foot.

Sewage Backup Cleanup: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

Dealing with sewage backup is undeniably a messy and unpleasant situation. When faced with this unfortunate event, many homeowners are left wondering whether they should tackle the cleanup on their own or hire a professional. One of the main advantages of opting for the DIY approach is the potential cost savings. If the backup is caused by a leaky water heater or clean water pipe, then it’s easy for a homeowner to dry up the puddle of water and clean the area. But if the sewage backup includes contaminated water from sinks, bathtubs, or toilets, then there is greater risk of exposure to harmful pathogens due to the presence of bacteria and viruses, among others. Without the proper knowledge or protective equipment, homeowners may put themselves at risk of contracting illnesses. If the cleanup is not done correctly, it can lead to further damage and future problems, potentially costing more in the long run. Hiring a professional for sewage backup cleanup has its own set of advantages. Professionals have the expertise, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle the cleanup safely and effectively. They possess the knowledge to thoroughly disinfect the area, mitigate odors, and prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Hiring a professional can save homeowners time, stress, and the potential health hazards associated with the cleanup process. Sewer backups can be dangerous, and improperly handling the cleanup can lead to long-term consequences.

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How to Save Money on Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost

Sewer backup (especially if it’s raw sewage) can be a nightmare for any homeowner. Not only is it disgusting and inconvenient, but it can also be quite costly to clean up. Luckily, there are ways to save money on sewage backup cleanup costs up front and in the long run.

  • Act quickly. As soon as a sewer backup is noticed, homeowners are advised to take immediate action. The longer the sewage sits in a home, the more damage and contamination it can cause, increasing the cleanup cost.
  • Document the damage. Before the cleanup process begins, homeowners are advised to document the extent of the damage by taking photos and videos of the affected areas. For homeowners who have a sewer backup endorsement on their policies, this evidence can help expedite an insurance claim and potentially save them money.
  • Contact your insurance provider. Check the homeowners insurance policy to see if it covers sewer backup cleanup. Depending on the policy, the costs may be partially covered, less the deductible.
  • Shop around for quotes. If it’s necessary to hire a professional cleanup service, homeowners can get quotes from multiple companies. Comparing rates and services helps homeowners choose the one that offers the best value for their money.
  • Practice preventive maintenance. Investing in preventive measures, such as regular sewer line maintenance, can minimize the risk of future backups and associated cleanup costs.
Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost
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Questions to Ask About Sewage Backup Cleanup

By asking some important questions, homeowners can feel confident in selecting the right professional for their sewer backup cleanup needs. It’s essential to choose experienced and knowledgeable professionals who can offer effective solutions for a cleaner and safer living environment after a natural disaster that damages the sewage system or any kind of sewage backup incident.

  • What experience do you have in sewage backup cleanup?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • How quickly can you get here?
  • What is the estimated cost of the cleanup?
  • What services are included in the cleanup package?
  • What equipment and techniques do you use?
  • How long will the cleanup process take?
  • What types of repairs do you not offer if I have extensive damage?
  • Do you provide a warranty or guarantee on your work?
  • What caused the sewer backup?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
  • How will you remove and dispose of the contaminated materials?
  • What safety precautions are you taking?
  • How can I prevent future sewage backups?
  • Can you provide documentation of the completed cleanup for insurance purposes?
  • What type of maintenance or follow-up services should I consider?
  • How can I leave a review of your work?

FAQs

While it’s never pleasant to deal with a sewage backup and sewer line cleanout, understanding the potential cost and the factors that influence it can help homeowners make an informed decision and take the necessary steps to ensure a clean and safe living environment. Homeowners may still have some questions about sewage backup, including what causes it and signs to be aware of. The answers to these questions and others can help homeowners feel more confident about the process.

Q. What are signs of a sewage backup?

Signs of a sewage backup include slow drainage, gurgling sounds in pipes, foul odors, and water backups in sinks or toilets. If you notice any of these indicators, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage.

Q. What causes a sewage backup?

Sewage backups can be caused by a variety of factors, including tree roots blocking pipes, clogged or damaged sewer lines, heavy rainfall overwhelming the sewer system, or improper disposal of grease and other substances down the drains. Understanding the cause is crucial in determining the best course of action to rectify the situation, which can include hiring the best drain cleaning services such as Roto-Rooter or Mr. Rooter.

Q. How long does sewage contamination last?

The duration of sewage contamination depends on the amount of sewage, the extent of the damage, and how quickly cleanup and restoration services are started. In general, it’s important to address sewage backups promptly to minimize health risks and prevent further damage to the property.

Q. What device prevents a sewer backup?

To prevent sewage backups, it’s recommended to install backwater valves or check valves. These devices allow wastewater to flow out but prevent it from flowing back into the home, protecting against potential sewage backups.

Q. Can a clogged toilet cause a sewer backup?

Yes, a clogged toilet can contribute to a sewage backup. Immediate action, such as using a plunger or calling a professional, is necessary to address the clog and prevent further complications in the sewer system. By staying aware of the signs of a backup, addressing issues promptly, and taking preventive measures, homeowners can minimize the risks and costs associated with sewage backup cleanup.

Sources: Angi, Yelp, Restoration Operators