After a flood

If your home has been flooded by sewage, follow this guidance to protect yourself, your family and your home.

Cleaning up

Under our promise, we aim to respond to all sewage flooding incidents within two hours for internal flooding and four hours for external flooding.

During severe weather, we may take a little longer and may need to respond to internal flooding incidents before external flooding incidents, but we will keep you informed about when we will get to your property.

We will also provide a clean-up service, which is free of charge, where possible. If your property is flooding internally, we will arrive within 12 hours. If your property is flooding externally, we will arrive within 24 hours.

Internal flooding

We will help with the removal of litter, as well as disinfecting and drying the affected area. Once thoroughly dried, you'll be able to use the affected area again.

We clean up when we first respond to the incident but during busy periods, we may need to complete it the following day. We may also ask specialists to help us clean up.

It's important that you check with your insurance company before removing any furniture. They may want you to keep any affected items for examination by a loss adjuster and you may find it useful to record details of the damage with photographs or on video.

External flooding

We will clean affected areas of sewage debris as much as we can – it's best to avoid using them until we've finished.

We'll disinfect hard surfaces such as paths, patios and drives, but we recommend you keep off these until they are dry or until the following day.

We don’t normally disinfect lawns and borders as this can kill plants and do more harm than good. We may need to return to clean these areas thoroughly when the ground and any remaining debris has dried out.

We may replace turf, gravel or other garden surfaces as necessary. Most contaminants are on or near the surface and will be exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation which is effective at killing bacteria.

You should avoid using affected areas of lawn, borders or gravel for long enough to allow the sewage to decay naturally. This will usually take a month but may differ depending on individual circumstances.

We will let you know how long this may take when we do the clean-up. If you need to access the area you should take precautions and we can advise you of these.

Health advice

Sewage is made up of water and domestic waste from bathrooms and kitchens. During wet weather it is likely to be diluted with rainwater.

If you follow this basic hygiene advice, you’re unlikely to be at an increased health risk if your property is flooded with sewage:

  • avoid contact with sewage wherever possible
  • wear protective clothing and protect any cuts and grazes with waterproof dressings
  • always wash your hands after any exposure and wash and treat footwear with a mild disinfectant
  • keep children and pets out of the contaminated area
  • dispose of any vegetables or fruit growing in your garden if it is flooded
  • avoid planting any crops in the affected area for at least six months.

Remember, you must contact a doctor immediately if you swallow any contaminated material or if you suffer vomiting or diarrhoea after a flooding incident.

Safety advice

Here is some more guidance you should follow to stay safe and protect your home after a sewer flooding incident:

  • if your gas meter or any gas appliance has been submerged, contact the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 before switching on the gas or lighting any appliance
  • if your electricity meter, fuse box or any electrical appliance or socket has been submerged, contact your electricity supplier for advice before using any electrical equipment
  • make sure your home or outbuilding is well ventilated by leaving windows open as much as possible, while also unblocking airbricks to underfloor spaces to ensure a free flow of air.

Claiming to cover the costs

If your home or its contents has been damaged by a sewer flooding incident, find out what you need to do.

See our advice on claiming to cover the costs.