Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing

Smoke testing helps to identify breaks and defects in the system which allow storm water or other non-wastewater discharges to enter the sanitary sewer collection system.  Unauthorized water can cause an unnecessary load on the Wastewater Treatment Plant and could potentially cause sanitary sewer overflows.

During smoke testing, the City’s Public Works crews blow air and smoke into the sanitary sewer system in the street and monitor where smoke escapes the system. The smoke under pressure will fill the main line as well as any connections and then follow the path of any leak to the ground surface, quickly revealing any problems. For instance, if smoke permeates up through a yard, it indicates breaks in the sewer line. During the test, smoke will be seen coming from manholes, roof vents and any cross connections with storm drains.  Smoke should not enter your home unless you have defective plumbing or dried up traps. If this occurs, you should consult your licensed plumber.

The smoke is non-toxic, leaves no residuals or stains, has no effect on plants or animals, and creates no fire hazard. The smoke will disappear after a few minutes.

Affected neighborhoods will be notified of the testing. In addition, message boards will be put up a week before, and signs will be placed in the right-of-way areas of the streets to identify smoke testing areas. LOPD and Fire are aware of the areas and the schedule for the smoke testing activities. Public Works crews will be available in the neighborhood to assist you if you have any questions about the process.

For questions about smoke testing, call Phil Lawrence, Wastewater Superintendent, at 503-635-0280.