Sewer Backup – What do I do?

An overflowing toilet is stressful enough, but when sewage becomes involved, a simple clean-up turns into a health-hazard. When it comes to a sewer backup, it’s more of “who to call” rather than “what to do”.

Since sewage is hazardous, you will want to call a professional crew. A professional sewage clean-up crew will:

  • Remove all items that have been damaged due to sewage backup.  
  • Properly discard items that cannot be salvaged. 
  • Properly disinfect saved materials off-site. 
  • Remove all water and sewage with specialty equipment. 
  • Dehumidify affected areas. 
  • Ventilate dangerous fumes and airborne particles. 
  • Disinfect flooring and surfaces within a contaminated area. 


What can cause a sewer backup? 

  • Soil settlement around the structure, putting stress on the plumbing and sewer system. 
  • Cracked pipes or misaligned connections and joints in the plumbing system. 
  • Tree roots infiltrating pipes and plumbing. 
  • Grease build-up and improper flushing habits in the building. 
  • Irregular cleaning and maintenance, especially in high-volume settings.  

Through regular sewer and plumbing inspections, you can work towards preventing a sewer backup in your home or business. Always make sure you know where the water shut-off is, whether in your home or at the office. 

If you happen to experience an unfortunate event such as a sewage backup, contact a licensed plumber to detect and stop the source, and then call a qualified disaster restoration company such as ServiceMaster of Tacoma at 800-339-5720 to take care of the clean-up. 

For more information on what to do when  your sewer backs up, visit or contact your city maintenance department.