Cleanup Procedures

Sewer Backup? Call us FIRST at: (513) 352-4900

When sewers backup into homes or businesses, the damaged area must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. 

The steps of the cleanup process include:

Scheduling the MSD Cleanup Appointment

If your property is eligible for cleanup, a customer service representative from MSD will contact you by telephone to schedule an appointment with you.

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Giving the MSD Crew Permission to Enter

When the MSD customer service representative arrives at your home, he or she will ask for written permission from the property owner or legal tenant to enter and inspect the area that was flooded.

This “Permission to Enter” form allows both the customer service representative and MSD’s professional cleanup contractor to enter your property.

The “Permission to Enter” form is a legal document, so please read this form thoroughly before you sign it. You will receive a copy of the form for your records.

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Inspecting and Documenting the Sewer Backup

The customer service representative will inspect your basement or lower level to verify and document the sewer backup. He or she will take room measurements and photograph the area and damaged items.

An MSD professional cleanup contractor will also arrive at your property during this time and will begin inspecting the damage and determining the moisture content of walls, floors and other materials in the area.

After your property has been inspected, the customer service representative will work with you to develop a list of items that can be saved and a list of those that require removal and disposal.

Be sure to review the lists carefully before signing them.

Click to learn more about what can be saved and what cannot be saved.

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How MSD Cleans Your Basement

While you are working with the customer service representative on your damaged property list, the cleanup contractor will begin cleaning your basement. MSD’s cleanup contractors are experienced, insured and certified in water damage restoration by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). They will follow all standard practices for professional water damage restoration, as set forth and established by the IICRC.

The cleanup contractors will conduct the following activities:

  • Relocate undamaged property
  • Remove contents that cannot be cleaned and saved
  • Clean items that can be cleaned and saved, and relocate
  • Extract water from your basement, if any remains
  • Remove wet carpeting, padding, floor tile or other damaged flooring
  • Cut out and remove damaged drywall, wallboard, paneling, and wood studs
  • Clean appliances such as refrigerators, washer, dryer, etc.
  • Clean, dry, and disinfect walls and floors that are wet but not damaged.

The cleanup contractors may use these cleaning products and equipment:

  • Cleaning solutions
  • Disinfectants
  • High-pressure sprayers
  • Vacuum water extraction equipment
  • An electronic air cleaner

If the water is more than a few inches deep during the backup, it could affect your furnace or water heater. Check them to make sure they are functioning properly. MSD will not clean or remove these items. If repairs are needed, you can submit the repair bill with your damage claim for consideration.

Children and elderly members of your household should not use the basement until the affected area is cleaned and dried.

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What MSD Cleanup Assistance Does Not Include

Hazardous Wastes

This program specifically excludes the removal of hazardous waste from flooded basements. Examples of such materials include asbestos floor tile, paints and solvents, and some cleaning chemicals. If such materials are present, the MSD cleanup contractor will not remove them. 

Mold and Mildew

MSD’s cleanup services are not designed or intended to remove or remediate mold and mildew. Cleanup assistance removes only the water and residues associated with the sewage backup, plus any personal property or building materials that were damaged by the sewer backup.

As part of the overall cleanup process, some mold and mildew on water-damaged building materials or contents may be incidentally removed from your property. No warranty, either express or implied, is provided with respect to the removal, remediation, or control of these natural biological agents.

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Drying the Basement

After the cleaning is finished, the cleanup contractor will set up several pieces of drying equipment in your basement. Special fans will be used to dry walls and floors, and dehumidifiers will be used to dry the air.

Depending on outside weather conditions, windows and doors will either be opened or kept closed while drying is in progress.

This equipment will operate continuously 24 hours a day for 2 to 3 days, until the moisture level in the basement is satisfactory. During this time, please:

  • Do not unplug the equipment or turn it off.
  • Do not alter the environment by opening or closing windows or doors. This could compromise the drying process.

The cleaning technicians will return to check the equipment and take moisture readings. Please make arrangements to let them in for these checks. When the drying process is complete, they will remove all equipment from your property.

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Verifying the Cleanup Process

MSD will send a customer service representative to inspect the cleanup after the basement is dry, and all the equipment has been removed. At that time, the representative will re-photograph the basement for documentation purposes.

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  • Contact the SBU Program

    Report a sewer backup

    If you have a sewer backup (SBU), please report it immediately. You can report sewer backups 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Note: SBUs must be reported within 24 hours to be eligible for reimbursement of damages.

    Phone: (513) 352-4900
    Online: Report a sewer backup online

    Get information about sewer backup prevention

    (513) 352-4288

    Filing a claim

    Start here: How to File a Claim
    Get help filing a claim: (513) 244-5100
    Just need the form? SBU Claim Form (pdf)

    SBU Ombudsman with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati

    (513) 362-2801

SBU Site Search:

MSD Home    Customer Service    City of Cincinnati    Hamilton County    Project Groundwork

Understanding Sewer Backups

How to Prevent a Sewer Backup