What's smoke testing?

Smoke testing equipment

Smoke testing equipment in action

Smoke testing involves injecting a dense, non-toxic and odourless smoke into the wastewater network, and then watching to see where the smoke escapes. It's normal for smoke to come out of the sewer vent pipes on roofs of homes and buildings, this doesn't indicate a problem. However, if smoke emerges from storm drains or rises from lawns, pavements or the street, this indicates that there is a problem such as a cracked wastewater pipe, damaged manhole or a cross-connection to the stormwater network.

The liquid used to create the smoke is based on demineralized water, and the substance that creates the white particles in the smoke is food or high grade glycols. The specific glycols used are monopropylene glycol and triethylene glycol. These glycols are the type used in the “theatre” industry for the production of smoke and are not hazardous to health or the environment. It is important to note that the liquid is vaporized and not combusted to create the smoke effect.

If the smoke comes into your home, please open windows at each end of your house and the smoke will disappear in a few minutes. Smoke appearing in your home may indicate that there is a problem with the plumbing in your home. Please contact a licensed plumber to make any necessary repairs.

Why is smoke testing necessary?

The wastewater network is designed to collect wastewater from homes and business, not rainwater or groundwater. When rain or groundwater enters the wastewater network, it has the potential to overwhelm the capacity of the network (especially in heavy rain events). This results in overflows of diluted wastewater into our streams, rivers and harbours. This can have a harmful effect on our environment.

Fault Example Smoking Downpipe

Smoke coming out of the downpipe shows that the rain coming off the roof of this house goes into the wastewater network instead of the stormwater network

Fault Example Smoking Ground 2

Smoke coming out of the ground indicates that there is a wastewater pipe break