You're in your kitchen preparing to make dinner, when all of the sudden you hear a strange gurgling noise. You then watch as smelly liquid gurgles up into your sink before slowly draining back down again. The stench fills the kitchen, and immediately you knew – that was a sewer backup! What do you do now?
The most important thing to remember is not to panic. Raw sewage is full of dangerous bacteria, but a controlled backup into your sink is pretty easy to manage. Follow these steps to sanitize your environment and make sure it doesn't happen again:
Step #1: Bleach your sink
Put gloves on to protect your hands before reaching into the sink to plug it. Then, pour a cup or so of bleach into the sink, and fill it the rest of the way up with water. Let the bleach water sit in the sink for a few minutes to thoroughly sanitize it.
If there were any items in the sink that were exposed to sewage, soak those in bleach, too. If they're cheap containers, you may even want to just throw them away. After he bleach water sits for at least 5 minutes, pull the plug and let it go down the drain.
Step #2: Watch to make sure it doesn't happen again
Sometimes sewage backups occur as a result of work being done on the main sewer line, or a malfunction of the public sewer system. Other times, they are the result of plumbing issues in your home. Keep your eyes and ears open for additional sewage backups.
If it happens again, call the local sewer department and ask if there is a situation that may be causing the issue. If they say "no," make an appointment with a plumber to have your pipes checked.
Step #3: Install a backflow preventer or indirect drain
If you end up calling a plumber, you can ask him or her to do this for you. However, it's pretty easy to do yourself. Purchase a backflow preventer, which is a valve that ensures that water only flows in one direction – down the drain – from a local hardware store.
Follow package instructions to install it in the drain pipe beneath your sink. Alternatively, you can install an indirect drain. This type of drain has an air gap, so that if sewage starts coming back up the drain, it flows into a collecting pool beneath the sink rather than into the sink itself.
Having sewage back up into your kitchen sink is pretty gross. After all, you cook and wash vegetables in that sink. As long as you're careful to bleach everything after it happens, you should be safe. It's important to make sure it doesn't happen again, especially since you might not know it has happened if you're not there to see it.
To learn more, or if you require more help, contact a company like Biggerstaff Plumbing Heating & Air with any questions you have.