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Posted on: July 22, 2019

Notice of Smoke Testing

Smoke Testing

NOTICE OF SMOKE TESTING

Please be advised that the City of Murphy will be smoke testing the sanitary sewer lines in the Maxwell Creek Subdivision. Work will occur Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00pm. The tentative date that this work will start is Monday, August 12, 2019. It is anticipated that the work could be completed within 2 weeks if all goes well.

ABOUT SMOKE TESTING
Smoke testing is a simple means of locating defects in sewer mains and service laterals that allow rainfall runoff or ground water to enter the sanitary sewer collection system. Smoke testing is done by introducing non-toxic smoke along with large volumes of air through an open sanitary sewer manhole. Smoke testing only takes a few hours and forces smoke filled air into the sanitary sewer system. The smoke is non-toxic, odorless and fills the sewer line only to escape to the surface, if there are any defects in the sanitary sewer system that need repair. Smoke may appear around nearby manhole lids and from the ground above defects in sewer mains and sewer service laterals.

Smoke testing is a process endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has been safely used for more than 20 years to evaluate sanitary sewer collections systems. The "smoke" is not true smoke but rather a specially-formulated mist that is made up mostly of moisture from the atmosphere. The mist is non-toxic, has no ill effects on humans, animals and plants, does not create a fire hazard, and leaves no residual odors, dust or stains.

If the plumbing system of your residence/business is adequate and all drain traps are full of water, smoke should not be seen indoors. Smoke coming out of plumbing vent roof stacks is completely normal and is not a cause for alarm. Smoke should not be observed inside a building unless the building has inadequate plumbing or dried-up drain traps (such as the P-trap under a sink).

The City of Murphy strongly advises that any source of smoke within a building be located, identified, and corrected by a licensed plumber in accordance with local codes. The correction of any defects in building plumbing systems or in sewer pipes that are on private property is entirely the responsibility of the property owner. If a deficiency is discovered on private property that allows storm water or debris to enter the sanitary sewer collection system, the location of the deficiency will be indicated with white flags, white marking paint, or a combination of the two.

SMOKE TESTING FACTS

You do not need to be home during the smoke testing. 

Smoke should not enter your home or building (unless there is a leak or seldom used drains). 

The liquid smoke used is non-toxic, odorless, non-staining and is not a fire hazard.

If you have any questions about the test, health issues, or any other concerns, feel free to ask a crew member, or contact the Public Works Department at (972-468-4378).

ALL PUBLIC SAFETY AUTHORITIES (POLICE AND FIRE) HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED OF THIS EVENT. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT AS TO THE SOURCE/ORIGIN OF THE SMOKE IN YOUR HOME OR YARD, PHONE 911 IMMEDIATELY.


Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

How does smoke testing work?
Field crews blow air and smoke into the sanitary sewer system in the street and monitor where smoke escapes the system. The smoke under pressure will fill the main line as well as any connections and then follow the path of any leak to the ground surface, quickly revealing the source of the problem.

What are the benefits of smoke testing?
Smoke testing is the most efficient and cost effective way to locate and identify where unauthorized water is entering the public portion of the sewer system, and find areas of the sewer system that need improvement. Smoke testing is becoming a requirement nationwide for locating unauthorized water problems that are threatening the ability to properly treat wastewater.

How long will it take?
While crews might be in your area for a few hours, each actual smoke test setup takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Most houses will only be within the testing area for one or two tests.

If the smoke is not harmful, why do you recommend evacuating the structure?
Evacuating is a precautionary measure in case the smoke is due to a real fire rather than a test, and also since smoke in your house from this test indicates other sewer gases may also be entering the building.

What should I do if I have emphysema or respiratory problems? Is the smoke harmful?
Although the smoke is considered to have no adverse health effects, individuals with respiratory conditions should take special precautions. Smoke rarely enters a home, but you could sit outside for the duration of the smoke test (20 min). If you cannot sit outside, open the windows and shut your bathroom doors. Also, tell the crew member who knocks on your door that you have a respiratory condition.

I am a pet owner and I will not be at home during the testing. Should I be concerned?

The smoke is not harmful to pets. As long as windows are left open, any smoke that enters the building will dissipate in a few minutes.

What does it mean if smoke enters my house?
If smoke enters your home during the test, it may indicate there are deficiencies in the plumbing that may allow potentially dangerous sewer gases to enter. Plumbing fixtures in your home or business are connected to the sanitary sewer, therefore there is potential for smoke to enter if the drains are not connected properly. This happens particularly under the following circumstances:

  • The vents connected to your building's sewer pipes are inadequate, defective, or improperly installed.
  • The traps under sinks, tubs, basins, etc. are dry, defective, or improperly installed.
  • The pipes, connections, or seals in the waste water drain system in and/or under your building are damaged, defective, have plugs missing, or are improperly installed.

Simply run water down the drain for a minute to ensure that the trap is not dry. It is important to locate dry traps as they could allow sewer gases to enter the home.


Can the smoke testing activate the smoke alarms?

Yes, smoke alarms may activate during smoke testing. If possible, open windows and/or doors for ventilation.

What should I do if smoke gets into the house?
Do Not Become Alarmed. Open windows to allow ventilation and note the location of the smoke emission. Smoke will clear within a few minutes. Exit the building and notify Bryce Gullatt at 972.468.4378, or Wade Williams at 972-468-4376.

Smoke-testing

smokearea

ALL PUBLIC SAFETY AUTHORITIES (POLICE AND FIRE) HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED OF THIS EVENT. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT AS TO THE SOURCE/ORIGIN OF THE SMOKE IN YOUR HOME OR YARD, PHONE 911 IMMEDIATELY.


For all questions or concerns pertaining to the Smoke Testing Program, please contact Bryce Gullatt or Wade Williams (contact information above).



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