During the holidays our septic system somehow got plugged and backed up, overflowing all over the bathroom floor, running into the hallway, and soaking a part of the carpeting. I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say it was quite a mess. We cleaned up the best we could but now, even though the carpet appears dry, there is a strong odor. I have also noticed what looks like mold growing on the bathroom wall behind the toilet. What can we do?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in my opinion, your carpeting needs to be removed and thrown away. In water damage, there are 3 types of water. Clearwater, which would result from a broken water pipe or water heater, Gray water, where a clothes or dishwasher leaked dirty rinse water, and Blackwater, which is any water that has originated from the septic or sewer/wastewater plumbing system.
What you have is a home contaminated with black water. You need professional restoration help, and you need it soon. Even though the carpet may feel dry on the surface, chances are, there is still moisture in the padding and sub-floor and probably in the walls and under the vinyl flooring.
Building materials contaminated with Blackwater are considered to be hazardous waste and a threat to human health. As long as there is still moisture present the bacteria will continue to multiply and thrive. This area of your home will not be a safe place for your family as the list of organisms living in sewage is as long as my arm.
The carpet and underpad are highly absorbent and contains too many porous surfaces. It cannot be effectively sanitized or disinfected. It’s not even worth attempting to restore it. Please keep your family away from this area until restoration has been completed.
The moldy baseboard and drywall will have to be removed; chances are quite high that the cabinets will also have to be replaced as they are usually made from compressed sawdust. All areas of this room and adjoining hallway must be thoroughly inspected for sewage contamination and mold growth. The basement and ceiling cavities must also be inspected.
Call your insurance company immediately and talk to them about claiming the damage; in the meantime hire a water damage restoration company to safely remove all of the contaminated items from your home.