A toilet overflow is a very serious situation, and one that is hazardous to even the healthiest individuals. The amount of micro-organic lifeforms that can thrive in sewage water is pretty staggering, and it only takes a brief amount of exposure to that water to make a person sick. That's why professional cleaning services take the extra steps necessary to safely dispose of affected surfaces or to clean them when cleaning is an option.
It's important to note that professionals are best at making the calls when it comes to how to clean after a toilet overflow, what to dispose of, and how to dispose of it. You may believe that a simple bleaching or vigorous scrubbing of a bathroom will fix the problem, but the bacteria and parasites that live in sewage lines can live for far longer than you realize, and can even resist or deactivate the sanitizing properties of bleach. So what makes toilet overflows so hazardous?
l Microorganisms exist in just about any form of water that you'll find running through a home, but in varied amounts. Even the tap water that you drink or shower in may have living matter in it. In small amounts, these bacteria and other organisms are harmless, but when you're dealing with water that comes from the toilet, they're a much bigger concern. Microorganisms that thrive in sewage lines are hazardous to your health, and difficult to get rid of without proper water cleaning services. They can cause extreme illness through exposure.
l Proper disposal of any fabric or porous material is an absolute must, and primarily for the above mentioned reasons. Once these surfaces become exposed to microorganisms and a large amount of water, it becomes very difficult, or even nearly impossible, to get rid of them completely. While it may not seem like that big of a problem now, consider that those surfaces can leak moisture, and those bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites through to the wood below.
l Mold growth is another threat that occurs due to the presence of moisture. Mold takes as little as 48 hours to begin growing in an area where there's an overflow. Once that happens, you'll not only be dealing with the colonies of mold that you can see, but the spores that you can't. Inhaling those spores can lead to mild or severe allergic reactions, even in individuals who have previously expressed no allergies of note. Mold reactions can include headaches, fatigue, difficulty breathing, or even full loss of consciousness.
If you've experienced a toilet overflow, please leave the clean up to the professionals. Proper, protective clothing, gloves, and goggles are necessary, along with professional-grade equipment and chemicals that cleaners are trained and certified to use. With these in hand, a professional cleaning service will be able to clean and restore your bathroom and surrounding area, making it safe once again. There's no reason to risk your health or the health of your loved ones by trying to do the work on your own.
Last but not least; hire a professional disaster clean-up contractor. An IICRC or ICRA certified disaster recovery company is skilled in the proper procedures and protocols to make sure your property is healthy and safe after a toilet overflow! Also, be sure you hire a PREP certified contractor if you have a commercial property!
Author: Dick Wagner, restoration consultant, commercial marketing coach, toilet overflow, IICRC, ICRA