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What to Do if a Backup or Flooding Occurs

Whom to Contact
If you experience a backup from your plumbing (sink, toilet, bathtub), contact a plumber. In most cases these backups are caused by a blockage or other problem in the building’s internal plumbing that a plumber can quickly relieve. 

If you observe or experience flooding due to a rainstorm, contact the City’s customer service center online at, via the mobile app, or by phone at 3-1-1.

residential wastewater system imageHealth and Safety

  • Floodwater can contain contaminants washed off the street, including bacteria and parasites. Try to avoid coming into direct contact with floodwater and keep children and pets away.
  • If you must come into contact with floodwater, follow these precautions:

    • Wear waterproof boots, gloves, eye protection and clothes that are either water resistant or disposable.
    • Keep exposure with floodwater to a minimum, avoid splashing, and keep the water out of your mouth, eyes and nose.
    • Bathe or shower thoroughly with soap and water and wash all contaminated clothing in hot water and a detergent after you come in contact with floodwater.
    • Make sure tetanus immunizations are up to date for any person who is exposed to floodwater. For most adults, if you received a tetanus booster within the past 10 years you are protected. For children, your pediatrician will be able to tell you if the tetanus vaccination is up to date.
    • Vaccination for hepatitis A or hepatitis B after contact with floodwater is not usually recommended. However, if you are on chemotherapy for cancer, or if you have HIV or another disease that weakens the immune system, consult with your primary health care provider.
    • If you become ill with fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea after exposure to possibly contaminated floodwaters, contact your health care provider.

  • PG&E suggests that you shut off your gas and electricity during major flooding, if you know how to do so safely. This action can prevent damage to the gas and electrical equipment in your home. Visit PG&E’s emergency preparedness page or call them at (800) 743-5000 to learn more about how to safely turn off your gas and electricity. Do not attempt to do so if you must stand in or make contact with water.
  • Cover or close vents, such as heater vents, to prevent spreading of contaminants and odors.

How and When to Pump Water Out

  • Remove any excess water from the property by using pumps or by mopping.
  • If you have a large amount of water in your basement or if there is no basement drain, you may need to buy or rent a sump pump to get rid of the water.


  • Consider using an insured professional cleaning service. To find a professional cleaning service, look online for “water damage," “fire restoration,” or “mold abatement.”
  • Wear gloves while cleaning and wash hands thoroughly after handling any soiled items.
  • Discard any food, drinking water or medicines that may have come into contact with floodwater.
  • Clean hard surfaces, such as floors and fixtures, with hot water and a mild detergent, and rinse with a bleach solution by mixing ¼ cup of liquid household bleach to one gallon of water. CAUTION: Do not mix bleach with other cleaning products that contain ammonia.
  • Saturated fabrics, including carpeting, usually cannot be adequately cleaned. They should be removed and taken to a waste disposal facility (such as the San Francisco Transfer Station at 501 Tunnel Ave.) or landfill. If you decide to keep the carpeting, hire a licensed carpet cleaning company to steam clean and disinfect the carpet.
  • Start drying the area as quickly as possible in order to minimize wood decay or growth of mold. Use dehumidifiers and active ventilation.
  • Disinfect mops, brooms, and brushes used for clean-up with a bleach solution.
  • Yards that have been contaminated by floodwater should be disinfected by a liberal application of lime. Children and animals should be kept away from limed areas until the lime is no longer visible.

Keep Records of Damage and Cleanup

  • Keep records and receipts of damage and cleanup to submit to your flood insurance carrier. Visit for more information on flood insurance.
  • If you believe you experienced a backup due to a defect in the City’s system, you may file a claim with the San Francisco Controller’s Office. Download the claims form at

Small Business Disaster Relief Fund

Managed by the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), in the aftermath of a disaster such as flooding, fire, etc., the fund is aimed to assist small businesses to immediately access up to $10K in funds for inventory replacement, equipment purchases, security deposits for new leases, employee salaries, or other expenses and to stabilize cash flow. For more information, please visit

Last updated: 10/30/2017 4:20:48 PM