Sewer Smoke Testing

What is Smoke Testing?

Smoke testing is the process of forcing smoke filled air into the sewer system. The smoke under

Smoke Testing for Sewer Leaks Next to a residence home
Smoke Testing for Sewer Leaks
Next to a residence home

pressure will fill the line and any connections. Whether in a municipal mainline sewer, residential or industrial system, breaks or illegal taps in the sewer line will allow the smoke to escape and surface through the ground or pipe work quickly revealing the source of the problem.

Why should you smoke test?

  • Smoke testing is the most cost effective and efficient way to locate infiltration and exfiltration problems in sewer systems. It is used to find leaks, inflow sources and most restrictive conditions within the sewer lines.
  • Smoke testing helps identify plumbing problems or leaks in buildings. Sewer gases can cause health problems for occupants.
  • Smoke testing is also an extremely good method for tracking piping systems and other mapping purposes.
  • The smoke is non-toxic and only enough force to overcome atmospheric pressure is required to adequately fill the system. As long as openings exist for the smoke to flow, smoke tests are effective, regardless of surface characteristics, soil make-up and depth of sewer lines.

Before Smoke testing can take place local police and fire agencies must be notified, as well as any

Smoke Testing for Sewer Leaks Next to a residence home
Smoke Testing for Sewer Leaks
Next to a residence home

potential residential or industrial connections to the line being tested.

What Should Residents Do?

Residents should be aware that some smoke may enter your home/business if the vent stack is blocked or a sewer tap is dry.  If you detect smoke, don’t be alarmed, the smoke is harmless and will dissipate after several minutes.

If you do find or see smoke in or around your home/business, please notify one of the HRC field engineers that will be in your area conducting the smoke testing.  However, if something appears to be out of the ordinary please call the Fire Department, we would rather have you be safe than sorry.

To help prevent false alarms to the Fire Department, and as a good preventative measure, it would be helpful for residents to check their basement sewer trap to make sure it is filled with water.  This is always a good practice.