Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing - What to Expect

The purpose of a sanitary sewer smoke test is to identify leaks, breaks, or faulty connections in the system. Finding and sealing such leaks will help minimize the amount of inflow and infiltration (I/I) entering the system, reducing the risk of sanitary sewer overflows and backups into homes and residences.

How Does it Work?

smoke-test-illustration.jpg Harmless smoke will be blown into the sanitary sewer system through a manhole on the street. The smoke will fill the pipes, and if there is a leak in the pipe, it will exit the pipe and rise to the ground surface.

During the test, the project team will be looking for smoke coming from along the sewer alignment, manhole covers, roof vents, catch basins, downspouts, etc.

The smoke should not enter your home or business if it is properly plumbed, vented, and the water traps contain water. If smoke does enter a home or building, it will clear within 30 minutes with proper ventilation.

Preparing for the Test

smoke-test-photo.jpg The best thing you can to do prepare for the smoke test is be aware, which will help minimize unnecessary emergency calls. The testing should not affect your home or business, or your sanitary sewer service.

Smoke could enter your home or business through floor drains or plumbing fixtures (toilets, sinks, showers, etc.) if the water trap has dried up. To prevent this, pour a bucket of water down all floor drains and any plumbing fixtures that have not been used in the past month.

You need not need to be present during the testing. However, if you are home and you see smoke in your property, please notify one of the project team members who will be in your area conducting the smoke testing.

The Smoke is Harmless.

The smoke used in the test is:

  • nontoxic.
  • non-staining.
  • odorless.
  • harmless to human, pets, plants, and food.
  • not a fire hazard.

While the smoke is nontoxic and harmless, the smoke may be an irritant to people or pets with respiratory conditions. It is recommended that those with such conditions stay away during testing.


Contact Us With Concerns

If you have any questions about the test, health issues, or any other concerns, feel free to contact us:

City of Lincoln

Brian Kramer, Lincoln Wastewater


JEO Consulting Group

Aaron Beauclair, Project Engineer