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Smoke Testing Protects the Environment and People

Routine evaluations of sanitary sewer lines with a smoke pump tester helps to prevent wastewater contamination of nearby streams and rivers. This task also protects people from serious health hazards. Homeowners will also enjoy reduced sewer costs.

Smoke Test Procedure

The smoke test procedure involves using a machine to pump artificial liquid smoke into the sewer system. If the smoke leaks out through gaps in the system, testers will see the gas rise in lawns and other unexpected areas. The leaks can then be traced back to problems that homeowners or local governments need to repair.

Problems Caused by Inflow and Infiltration of Sewer Lines

Engineers design sewer lines to carry wastewater from sources such as toilets and bathtubs to a treatment plant. When water from non-sewage sources, such as rainwater downspouts, enters the sewage system, this overwhelms the capacity of sewage pipes. Infiltration refers to leakage of groundwater into wastewater pipes through cracks. When the combination of inflow and infiltration exceeds the carrying ability of the sewer lines, basements and streets flood.

Problems Caused by Outflow from Sewer Lines

Outflow, or the leakage of wastewater into the ground, causes contamination of nearby waterways and drinking water. Escaping sewer gases also may contain toxic or explosive fumes. Bacterial infections and viruses spread when people come directly in contact with the wastewater or come into contact with animals carrying germs.

Reduced Sewer Costs

When wastewater plants must manage water that does not require sanitary treatment, the costs to everyone for the sewer system increase. Therefore, it is in the best interest of homeowners to ensure that ordinary groundwater does not enter the sewer lines through improper connections and leaks.

Periodic smoke tests ensure that there are no improper leaks in the sewer system, keeping the environment and humans safe while containing costs. This is a vital component of any sewer maintenance program.