Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing FAQs

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What is Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing?

Sanitary sewer smoke testing is one of the best and most cost effective ways to locate defects in the main and lateral sewer lines. This is why many cities and municipalities implement sanitary smoke testing are their method to assess the sewer system.
 
Smoke testing identifies problems in all of the connected lines even in sections that were not known to exist. Although video inspection and other techniques are proven to be useful, there are times when research has shown that more than half of all stormwater actually flows in from somewhere other than the main line.
 
With sanitary smoke testing, smoke travels through the system, locating and identifying problems in all of the lines. 
Experts recommend this to be done when the weather is dry, this allows smoke to travel to the surface. It is also a relatively simple process that consists of blowing smoke mixed with a large amount of air into the sanitary sewer line through a manhole. 

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FAQ

Will the smoke come into my house?

 

It's possible but unlikely. In rare chance that your washing machine, garbage disposal, dishwasher, etc. Was not installed correctly than yes. Your house is equipped with a drain trap to prevent this from happen.   

 

How-ever do note that if smoke does come into your house than so can dangerous sewer gases. 

 

If you happen to see smoke inside your house. Please locate one of our smoke testing crew members and they will assist you. 

I see smoke coming out of my roof vent is this normal?

Yes, roof vents are where the smoke should be released from.  

I don't see any smoke at all?

This might be a good thing. If the sanitary sewer lines are in good condition. The smoke will migrate along the sanitary pipes and appear again at the next manhole. Our techs will also check the sewer vent pipes on your house. How-ever in some cases the smoke doesn't reappear and since it has to go somewhere. We will continue the investigation until we find where the smoke is ending up.

 

If the smoke gets in my house will it set off my smoke alarm?

Yes, your smoke alarms may go off during testing if smoke enters your house. If it does, open a few windows and a few doors for ventilation. When in doubt or not 100% sure call 911 immediately.

How long will the test take?

While we might be in your area for a few hours. The actual smoke test takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Your house or property will only be in the testing area once or twice. 

Do I have to be home during testing?

No, inspection crews will not need to enter your home unless smoke is present and you want them to help identify the defect. You are not required to allow entry to our crews. While it is beneficial to note deficient plumbing connections on private property, this is not the main intent of the smoke test. It is the homeowner's responsibility to maintain private plumbing connections. 

If I'm not home but my pet is, should I be concerned

The smoke is not harmful to pets, but you can place your pet in an area of the home that has no plumbing, or leave window cracked for good ventilation. If your plumbing property is connected and all the drain traps are sealed, there should not be any issues.

What equipment is involved with the smoke test?

There are two types of blowers available : squirrel cage and direct drive propeller. Generally, squirrel cage blowers are usually larger in size but can provide more static pressure.

Propeller-style blowers tend to be more compact and offer more cfm (cubic feet per minute).

There are also two different types of smoke : classic smoke candles and smoke fluids. Smoke candles were first used for sewer smoke testing when the process was first introduced.

Another type of smoke is a smoke fluid system. This system involves injecting a smoke fluid into the hot exhaust stream of the engine.

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