Columbia Water is investing millions in improving and upgrading its water and sewer infrastructure. Smoke testing is an important tool in identifying areas where the sanitary sewer system is leaking and needs to be repaired.
How It Works
Smoke testing is one of several techniques that can identify cracks and illicit connections to the sanitary sewer system. They might come from:
- Actual cracks in the sewer line
- Defective sewer connections
- Illicit cross‐connections with storm drains
- Building connections without proper traps or plumbing
A section of sewer line is blocked off, and a blower pumps the special smoke into a manhole. Crews look for smoke coming out of the ground, buildings, manholes, stormdrains, and any other places that might indicate a problem with the sewer line. These areas are flagged for further examination and repair.
If the sewer line is in good condition and there are no problems to be fixed, the only places smoke should exit are sewer vent pipes. Any other places that smoke escapes indicate a problem with the sewer system in that area.
Impact on Customers
When City staff or contractors plan to do smoke testing in an area, they will notify customers with door hangers and phone/text/email alerts for people who have signed up.
If you are notified about upcoming smoke testing, make sure to run all of your faucets briefly so water is in all of your traps. If your plumbing is in good working order, this should prevent smoke coming into your building. If smoke does enter your building, there may be something wrong with your plumbing. See Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing Fact Sheet for more details.
Columbia Water is also notifying customers if smoke testing reveals a problem with their private sewer lateral line. See Understanding Your Sewer Lateral for details.