5 Common Questions About Sewer Smoke Testing

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Sewer smoke testing is a means of determining where water is entering a community’s sewer system. Water can come from storm drains, houses, or groundwater. Smoke testing is a way of checking that water is only flowing in through intended entry points.

1. How Is a Smoke Test Performed?

A sewer smoke test is conducted by city officials using non-toxic smoke forced through sewers using large fans or blowers. This allows workers to document where the smoke exits the system, which also informs them where water flows in.

2. Will Officials Need to Enter My Home?

A smoke test is performed on outside sewer lines, so workers will not need to enter your residence to perform the test. However, if you happen to see smoke in your home, you can ask a worker to come in and determine where the smoke is coming in. For example, the smoke could be coming in through an open window or door.

3. Is the Smoke Dangerous?

The smoke used in a sewer smoke test is similar to the carbon dioxide smoke used at concerts or on Halloween. It is non-toxic and will dissipate quickly after the test is complete. However, if the smoke is entering your home through a drain during a smoke test, you should contact a plumber.

4. How Can I Prepare for a Smoke Test?

Your community leaders should inform you ahead of time when a smoke test is planned for your neighborhood. This advance notice will allow you sufficient time to raise any questions or concerns you may have regarding the smoke used in the smoke test.

Another way to prepare for a smoke test is by pouring a gallon of water down your drains or running the taps for a minute or two. The water in the drain will help keep smoke from rising out of the drain and into your home.

5. Will Smoke Get Into My Home?

Smoke can get into your home simply because your house has drains that connect to the sewer system. If you see smoke in your home, contact a plumber immediately, as the smoke could indicate a leak in your sewer line.

Smoke testing is a common practice among city officials for locating leaks or faulty sewer lines. Testing is an excellent way of proactively diagnosing and addressing problems before they become more significant issues for residents or business owners. If you have any questions or concerns, though, don’t forget to contact your city’s Public Works office.

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