Smoke testing is a quick and efficient way to find leaks in your sewer system. It helps prevent odor problems and maintenance issues by identifying the root of the problem.
During the test, odorless smoke is blown into the sewer system to create visual indicators where breaks or leaks are present. It also allows the identification of areas where rainwater and groundwater can enter.
Observing the Results
If you see smoke in your home or yard, it may indicate that sewer gases are entering the building. It’s essential to remain calm and open windows and doors for ventilation.
Smoke testing is a simple and inexpensive way to find leaks, breaks, defects, and illegal connections in the sanitary sewer system. It can also help to identify plumbing leaks in buildings that could release sewer gases into the air, which can be a health risk for building occupants.
During a sewer smoke test, it blows air and unique smoke into the sewer line through maintenance holes. The smoke fills the main line, and any lateral connections travel along any leak, revealing the problem quickly.
Blowing the Smoke
Smoke testing is one of the most effective ways to locate and document sewer leaks. It identifies points where stormwater runoff enters the sanitary sewer system, causing an increased flow volume that the system wasn’t designed to handle.
During the smoke test, field crews blow non-toxic smoke into the public sewer lines in streets and easements. The smoke follows the path of any leak to the ground surface, quickly revealing the source of the problem.
The smoke exits the sanitary sewer lines through a neighborhood maintenance hole. It can indicate broken sewer pipes, lateral cleanouts, catch basins, and where roof or foundation drains connect to the sewer system.
The smoke also helps the inspectors find specific problems with private building sewer connections and public sewer lines in streets or easements.
Preparing for the Test
Smoke testing a sewer system is a practical, cost-efficient, and safe way to find leaks or faulty connections that allow rainwater to enter the sanitary sewer line. This stormwater creates overflows and adds to the demand for the wastewater treatment plant.
During smoke testing, field crews blow non-toxic smoke through portions of the sewer pipe. The exiting smoke indicates the location of a broken sewer pipe, manhole, catch basin, or where roof or foundation drains connect to the sewer line.
Smoke testing is often performed after episodes of heavy rainfall to detect areas where leaks or faulty connections may allow stormwater to enter the sanitary sewer line. Unfortunately, these defects not only increase the chance of overflows and add to the costs of wastewater treatment, but they can also threaten health and safety.
Identifying the Lines
Smoke testing is one of the most efficient, cost-effective methods of identifying sewer lines that need repair. It can also help to reduce sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) by identifying where rainwater may enter the system and cause backups.
Work crews blow artificially-produced non-toxic, non-staining, and odorless smoke into the sanitary sewer line to detect leaks, breaks, or other defects during a smoke test. The smoke fills the main line plus any connections, then follows the path of the leak to the ground surface, quickly revealing the source.
If the smoke does enter a home during the test, this can indicate a problem with the sewer plumbing in the building or that the drain traps under sinks, tubs, basins, and showers are dry and defective, improperly installed, or missing. In such cases, the homeowner should immediately contact a licensed plumber to correct the defect.
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