City of Charlottesville Wastewater Division

Smoke Testing
something to see The City of Charlottesville Public Utilities Division will be conducting smoke testing of the sanitary sewer system starting Oct 1 through December 1 The purpose of smoke testing the sanitary sewer system is to locate breaks and defects in the sewer system. The information gained from this testing will be used to identify sewer mains that need to be repaired. It may also identify areas on private property where repairs are needed such as roof gutters that are connected to the sanitary sewer system that will need to be removed.

All residents are advised that if traces of this smoke or its odor enter your house or building, it is an indication that there are plumbing problems that may allow gases and odors from the sewer to enter. Sewer odors and gases can be both unpleasant and dangerous, as well as a health risk to the occupants. Should smoke enter your home or business, you should contact a member of the smoke testing crew working in your area. Please provide the crew with your address and inform them as to where the smoke is entering the building. Your cooperation will be appreciated.

For example plumbing appliances in your house or building that are connected to the sanitary sewer system may allow 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 and 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.

To prepare for smoke testing residents should pour approximately two cups of water into each floor and sink drain to ensure that the drain traps are full so that smoke will not pass through the traps, out the drain and into the residence.

A special non-toxic smoke will be used in these tests. The smoke is manufactured for this purpose, leaves no residuals or stains, and in general has no effect on plant, animal, or human life. The smoke has a distinctive odor. Visibility and odor last only a few minutes, where there is adequate ventilation.

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