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Sewer Smoke Testing


As part of an upcoming sewer project the Town of Victoria will be conducting smoke testing of sections of the sanitary sewer system in the upcoming months.  The town has identified a problem with increased flow in the sanitary sewer system during and after rain events.  In dry weather the sanitary sewer system transports wastewater to a treatment facility with little to no issues.  However, during rain events the run-off from the event may leak into the sewer system and cause an increase in flow to a volume that the system was not designed to handle.  This situation is known as infiltration and inflow.

Smoke testing is a cost effective way to locate defects in the sewer main lines and service lateral lines that connect to businesses and residences.  A high capacity blower will be used to pump non-toxic smoke into a manhole.  The smoke is not harmful to you, your pets, or house plants.  It will not harm or stain clothes, drapes, or furniture.  It is not flammable and does not create a fire hazard.

If the sewer line is in good condition then the forced smoke will emerge from the manhole lids along the line and the house vents on roofs of connected houses.  If the line has defects, the smoke will find the break and try to escape through the break.  It is not unusual to see plumes of smoke coming from peculiar places such as cracks in the street or in yards.

Because the plumbing appliances in your house or building are connected to the sanitary sewer system some smoke may enter your home or place of business if the:

  • Vents connected to your building’s sewer pipes are inadequate, defective, or improperly installed.
  • Traps under sinks, tubs, basins, showers, or other drains are dry, defective, improperly installed, or missing.
  • Pipes, connections, and seals of the wastewater drain system in and under your buildings are damaged, defective, have plugs missing, or are improperly installed.

All residents should be aware that if traces of this smoke enter into your house or building it is an indication that gases and odors from the sewer also may enter.  These can be both unpleasant and dangerous, as well as a health risk to the occupants. If smoke should enter your home or business you should contact a member of the smoke testing crew working in your area.

Residents and business owners may want to pour a gallon of water into drain traps of floor, sink, shower, and tub drains to prevent smoke from entering the home through dry traps. 

If smoke enters your home or business smoke detectors may be activated.  If this happens, open windows and doors for ventilation.  If you are not sure, or have any doubts about the smoke call 911.

Door hangers will be placed on the primary access door of homes and businesses located in the test area a day or two prior to the smoke testing.  If you have any questions or concerns please contact the town office at 434-696-2343. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance as the town works to improve the sanitary sewer system.