It's an important part of our maintenance program that helps us find and fix cracks, breaks, and other problems with sewer lines.
We inspect pipes with robotic cameras and use smoke testing to locate cracks.
Smoke testing involves injecting a harmless smoke into sewer manholes, then watching to see where the smoke escapes.
It's normal for smoke to come out of sewer vent pipes on roofs. This is really good!
However, if smoke emerges from storm drains or rises from lawns, sidewalks, or the street, that means there's a cracked pipe, damaged manhole, connection with a storm drain, etc., and we'll repair the problem.
Before smoke testing, we notify the fire department and distribute door hangers to homes and businesses in the area.
Video about Smoke Testing
What to expect
Smoke is supposed to escape through sewer vent pipes on roofs. These vent pipes allow sewer gases to vent outside.
Occasionally, the harmless smoke will enter a home. This indicates a problem with the sewer plumbing in the home and it means sewer gases are also entering the home. Contact a licensed plumber for repairs.
The sewer system was designed to collect waste from homes and businesses, not rain water or ground water. When they enter the sewer system through cracked pipes, it takes up needed capacity in the sewer system, especially during heavy rain events. In severe cases, this causes sewer system overflows, which are an environmental and public health hazard.
To prevent this unwanted infiltration and inflow into the sewer system, we find and fix problems with sewer pipes and manholes such as root intrusion, deterioration of aging pipes, and connections of storm water pipes to sewer lines.
Smoke testing has helped us remove more than 2.5 million gallons per day of extraneous flow for an annual cost savings of more than $500,000.