Black Water: Protect Your Home From Damage With A Fill Dirt Fort

When a sewer line backs up or breaks in your yard, it can quickly threaten your home with black water. Black water can be extremely difficult to remove from your home, but you can take steps to keep it out before it causes too much damage. If you don't do something immediately, your family could be at risk for a host of medical problems, including parasitic infections and disease. Here's what black water is and how you can reduce the destruction it causes in your home with a fill dirt fort.

What Types of Dangers Lurk in Black Water?

Black water describes sewer water that contains feces, dangerous microorganisms and diseases, such as encephalitis and leptospirosis. Many of these contaminants harm both humans and animals because of how they enter the body. 

Black water contaminants invade your body through your mouth and skin. However, a number of pathogens and microorganisms invade your body through your eyes, ears, nasal passages, and lungs. The contaminants cause many symptoms that range from a mild fever to heart and kidney failure. In most cases, you won't know you have a deadly infection or disease until you experience:

  • Respiratory distress or the inability to breathe properly
  • Intense bouts of diarrhea and vomiting
  • Head pain, such as migraines and sinus infections
  • Dizziness and lethargy

Now that you understand how dangerous black water is, it's critical that you keep it out of your home.

How Can You Build a Fill Dirt Fort?

Until someone arrives to repair the damaged sewer line, build a protective fort around your home with fill dirt. Fill dirt, also known as subsoil, is found beneath the top layer of soil and grass on your property. This type of dirt consists of rocks and thick, inorganic material that may block or slow down sewer water from coming close to your basement or crawlspace. 

To build your protective fort, you need to find a good place to dig up your fill dirt. You can choose an area of the property that doesn't contain valuable gardens, flowers and other landscaping features you want to destroy. In addition, you want to select an isolated location that doesn't see a lot of foot or vehicle traffic, such as close to a fence or shed.

Remember, you don't want to use topsoil to construct your fort, as it can be too thin, soft or porous to contain the sewer water. You don't need to dig too far into the ground to find fill dirt. Most fill dirt begins at about 12-24 inches below topsoil and appears red to reddish-brown in color.

Once you find a place to dig, follow these steps below:

  1. Use a large shovel or excavating tool to break up the topsoil and grass over the fill dirt. Place the topsoil and grass somewhere close to the digging site. You can use the topsoil and grass to refill it the site later.
  2. Fill a large wheelbarrow or container with as much dirt as you can safely move or haul to the locations closest to the damaged sewer line. You can find these locations by examining the ground. If they appear saturated with sewer water, place your fort in those places.
  3. Place fill dirt directly in front of the vulnerable locations, then continue to build up the fort until the sewer water stops flowing toward your basement or crawlspace. The water shouldn't travel over the fort but instead flow or sit against it.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 4 until you feel comfortable with the height of your fort.

Keep in mind that the dig site may enlarge from your efforts. You can refill the hole with the fill dirt that didn't touch the sewer water later on. For safety, place a fence or protective barrier around the dig site to keep kids and pets out of it.

If the water breaks through the fort and travels to your home, contact a water restoration contractor as soon as possible. The contractor can remove any contaminated items from your home and restore it back to a healthy state. Click for more information.