An Emergency Sewage Clean Up call came in from a home that was used as a day care center. We were called in to the home, because there was a sewage back up caused by the county sewage line that was clogged. Arriving to the home, the carpet where the children played was covered with sewage and sewage water. The claim was covered and it is always suggested to follow the IICRC S500 guidelines for sewage clean up in a home.
Among other suggestions by the IICRC S500 guidelines (the IICRC S500 never says it makes rules for legal reasons), it is required that any hygroscopic materials (carpet, sofas, fabrics or any materials that can absorb) be removed. Included is also to have a five step disinfection process and drywall removed two feet above the highest point where the sewage meets the wall. It is important also to remember that the tack strip be removed as well. The owner of the day care business which was the owner of the house refused for the services be perform unless the insurance company approved the IICRC S500 suggestions for sewage clean up.
When the insurance adjuster was called, it was told that the IICRC S500 guidelines were not necessary and that his carpet cleaning and water damage clean up company told him that the steam cleaning process would kill any microbes. Interestingly this was just when the AIDS epidemic was in full swing. Sewage carries many diseases including AIDS, hepatitis, etc. Many homeowners believe that the sewage back up is from their family only. In fact the sewage back contains their neighbors sewage and anyone that may have visited them. You may have the most moral neighbors, but you never know when someone goes astray or the kids invite a ” friend” who was not careful who they had relations with.
In regards to the insurance adjuster who said to steam clean the carpet, here is the problem with his statement. He mentioned that steam cleaning uses a 180 degree heat that would kill anything. The problem is that the heated water goes to 100 degrees when hits the carpet making it useless as a germ killer. The other problem is that the carpet and the sewage will have to be under extreme heat for a couple of minutes to do anything. The other issue is that no one can guarantee that the carpet is 100% disinfected. The adjuster made the decision that the carpet was to be steam cleaned only. As IICRC certified employees, this request from the insurance adjuster could not be followed.
I hope the young children were OK.