Sounds like a medium sized cyclone.
What does that mean in regards to Restoration or mitigation?
Category 3 water is grossly unsanitary, containing disease causing agents and is considered a serious health threat to homosapiens (That’s us)
It can be anything from flood waters to rising creeks, but 90% of the time for us, it means sewage. Wastewater backing up from sewage pipes and/or toilets overflowing. It is a pretty crappy job, but someone’s got to do it and we love being sewage clean up restoration technicians in Perth.
We have had plenty of category 3 emergency water extraction or flood related events. From tree roots in a sewage pipe causing back flow, to heavy rainfall which has caused septic tanks to overflow into homes.
But let’s look at a day with one of our Experienced, trained IICRC certified Water, flood and mould technicians.
8.27am - The call comes in from the office while I am onsite at a storm damaged water ingress job, it’s a old guy and a recent summer storm has blown tiles off his roof and caused rainwater to run down his walls and there is water staining on his carpet. It’s a pretty small, easy job and it’s possible I could knock off early, which would be perfect because it’s 35 degrees today and I keen to hit the beach. The chick in the office sounds upbeat and cheerful, in fact overly friendly; I have a worrying suspicion.
“We have another job we need you to go to once you have finished up there, I have organised for another 3 technicians to meet you onsite” uh oh, four of us on one job, must be a big one.
“It’s cat 3, poo”
And, there goes my afternoon at the beach.
10.31am – I arrive onsite to the category 3 job. It’s not what I was expecting. A dilapidated apartment building. No one here to meet me, just some hobos milling around the entrance. I open the main apartment doors to the entrance and the smell hits me like a runaway train. The whole place smells like a desert drop toilet. I back out quickly and call the building manager from outside gasping in the fresh air. He’ll be there in 10 mins he says. My team starts arriving and I am getting them organised. One Tech is on barriers and containment, one is on the report and photos, one is on equipment prepping and I will be assessing and completing the work plan. It’s time to suit up.
11.01am – I am standing in a tiny one bedroom apartment, it’s clear to see that the calibre of occupant is low, drug paraphernalia is scattered throughout, the stained mattress on the floor has no sheets and contents are strewn all over. It’s hot and I am already sweating inside my hazmat suit, the respirator mask is fogging up and there is no relief for my gloved hands or booted feet. I am carefully walking around brown floaters and soggy toilet paper, walking with high deliberate steps as not to splash the sewage water further than it has already gone. Turns out someone has tried to flush their stash and blocked the toilet; water has over run into three separate apartments and down the carpeted hallway. No point delaying the inevitable, it’s time to get elbows deep in this turd fest.
1.33pm – We have been extracting water now for over two hours. Extracting the toilet water from tiles and carpets. Part of them team has been cataloguing the damaged furniture. Most of it is unsalvageable and we have a large trailer outside. We are almost to the point where we can remove the carpet. The fecal matter has been carefully removed. I am glad there are layers of PPE between me and the little floaters. Builders film has been placed along the walkways leading out to the trailer ready for the carpet removal. Even though most of the water has been extracted it’s still going to be heavy and we will need to cut the carpet into strips. The skirting boards are MDF and must be taken off as well. Walls are single leaf brick but lined with plasterboard and the lower half of that will need to be cut away as well. There is a lot to do here. I have an itch on my face, too bad it can itch away, my respirator mask is not coming off anytime soon.
2.47pm – The carpet has been cut into strips and rolled up ready to be moved out. My team is making back and forth trips to the trailer with the carpet. We have extracted well and there is limited dripping. I continue to ask apartment dwellers to stay on the safe side of the danger tape, they are anxious to get back to their apartments. The guys whose stash caused the problem in the first place is no where to be found, which is lucky because he won’t be going back to his apartment for some time yet. Once the carpet is gone, we remove the soggy, swollen skirting from the apartments. We cut away the lower 400mm of plasterboard along the walls to expose the brick. We can easily see how far up the wall the moisture has travelled. Next step is to start the chemical cleaning.
5.31pm – The first full clean through has been completed. Every single surface has been scrubbed, treated, and rinsed. Each area has been treated with microbial growth inhibitor to stop any mould from growing. I duck under the danger tape outside and take off my mask. The fresh air is divine. It’s been a big day. I assign the rest of the team the duty of carrying in the drying machines which will start running to complete structural drying. They will set up dehumidifiers and air movers to start drying out the concrete subfloor and the walls. I stand in one of the large garbage bags and begin peeling off the boots and suit. Boots go into our large tubs with the other items to be cleaned and sanitized and my suit and gloves and tape go into the garbage bag. Slipping back into my own shoes I take a seat on the side of the work van to make sure the first report is completed, and all photos uploaded. I still must head back to the office and complete decontamination of all the equipment, but the hard part is over. Tomorrow we will be back to complete a secondary chemical treatment and disinfectant. I will not have to wear a full suit tomorrow which is a relief. I finish my report and the rest of the team bustle out. We tape over the door to stop entry and attach our danger sign. The team look just as happy as I was to be getting out of the PPE. It might have been a hot, poopy day, but definitely not a mundane boring day, and that’s what keep the job so interesting.