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Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing

Smoke testing is performed to determine where groundwater or storm water ‘inflow” is entering our sewer system. Placing smoke in the sewer system will cause the smoke to exit any location where it can escape to the atmosphere.  Smoke testing is a common method used by Wastewater Utilities to eliminate these inflows and control operating costs.

We use an artificial, non-toxic smoke to produce smoke in sanitary sewer manholes and then force the smoke into the system using a large industrial fan.  The smoke will fill the pipe and exit the system where it can escape.  A common place where smoke will exit the system is building roof vents.

We notify homeowners and businesses in these areas regarding the testing and what they need to do prior to the test date.  Once we start the testing, we are unable to stop the process.

Occupants need to make sure all water traps have water in them.  We recommend you pour at least 1 gallon of water in each floor drain and pour water in all sinks that have not been used recently before the testing.  Water traps act as a barrier to insure that sewer gas (smell) does not enter your home or business.  It will also act as a barrier to the smoke and stop the smoke from coming in.  Water traps are installed in all plumbing fixtures and floor drains.  Residents will notice smoke coming out of the vent pipes located on top of their home or business, this is normal.  All homes and businesses have plumbing vents, without a vent, drains would not allow water to drain.

Home or business owners may notice smoke rising from the ground around their structure, that would be caused by a cracked or broken service line.

Department staff will be walking the neighborhoods, looking for smoke rising from the ground or storm boxes that would indicate an inflow condition into the system. 

If your drains do not have sufficient water in them, smoke may pass by this barrier and enter your home or business. If someone experiences smoke in their house or business, please DO NOT PANIC, open windows and doors and allow the smoke to dissipate.  If the smoke is coming from a drain, add water.  The smoke we use is not harmful, and has been approved for this type of use.

Once we start the testing, we will not stop because smoke is entering a home or business.  They must make sure they have water in their traps.  Smoke entering a home or business due to a broken pipe situation must be dealt with by the owner.  If they can locate where the smoke is entering, it would indicate a broken pipe or a condition that will require repairs, possibly by a plumber.

If you have any problems or concerns during the testing, please contact our staff that will be in the area, or call the Utilities Department at 422-8117, City Hall at 422-1020 or call Laura Munro, Chief Wastewater Collections Operator,  directly at 913-915-4310

The fire department and police will be notified about the smoke testing.



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205 E. Second St. • P.O. Box 38 • Bonner Springs, KS 66012 • Ph: (913) 422-1020                                      MobileApps Download