What is Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing?

Spotsylvania County Utilities conducts sanitary sewer smoke testing to locate problem areas within the overall sanitary sewer system.  A Sanitary Sewer Smoke Test is a sewer inspection method in which a non-toxic smoke is blown into a blocked off pipeline segment to see where the smoke emerges.  The smoke makes its way through all the connected pipes in that sanitary sewer segment, helping locate pipe leaks, broken manholes, cracks, uncapped lines, and more.  If the sewer is in good condition, then the forced smoke will emerge from manhole lids and roof vents along the line.  If the line has defects, the smoke will find the break and try to escape through the break.    

During smoke testing, you may see smoke coming out of grass, utility boxes, cracked pavement, and more.  A defect in an underground sewer pipe may allow smoke to escape up through the ground.  Smoke doesn't always originate at the spot where the smoke plume emerges.  Sometimes smoke will escape through a defect in the sanitary sewer line, then travel or migrate along the pipe until it finds a way to rise to the surface.  

Each test typically lasts about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the segment being tested.  

Show All Answers

1. What is Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing?
2. Is the smoke hazardous?
3. Will smoke enter my home or building?
4. What should I do if smoke enters the building?
5. When will sanitary sewer smoke testing crews be in my area?
6. What should I do to prepare for sanitary sewer smoke testing?
7. Can the smoke activate smoke alarms?
8. Do I have to be home during the sanitary sewer smoke testing?