Sanitary Sewer System Testing

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Smoke Testing the Sanitary Sewer Lines

The Village of Bartlett will be conducting smoke testing on the sanitary sewer lines from E. Lake Street to Railroad Avenue and from N. Oak Avenue to N. Prospect Ave: The tentative date that this work will start is September 25, 2017. It is anticipated that the work could be completed by October 6, 2017 if all goes well. The work will occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Map of Testing Area with corresponding testing dates

These tests involve blowing harmless smoke into the sewer system to find damage, illegal connections, and where unwanted rainfall or groundwater may be entering the Village’s sanitary sewer system. As a result, smoke may be seen coming from roof vents, building foundations, catch basins, clean-outs, down spouts, sewer laterals, or manhole covers. The smoke will not enter your home or business if it is properly plumbed, vented, and the water traps contain water.

Recommendation for Residents

If you have a bathroom or plumbing fixture that is not used or is seldom used, traps should be filled by running water in the fixtures the day before scheduled smoke testing. Water can evaporate from unused plumbing fixtures and sewer gases can enter the home. Water should be added on a monthly basis thereafter in order to prevent sewer gas from entering the home or office. As a precaution, open the bathroom windows for ventilation and close the door, in case smoke does enter the bathroom.

The smoke used is a non-toxic substance that is harmless to humans, pets, food, and material items. If smoke does enter the building, it will clear in a few minutes with proper ventilation. Please advise a representative of the smoke testing crew if any leakage occurs in your home or business. Additionally, if you have any questions about the test, health issues, or any other concerns, feel free to ask a crew member, or contact the Contractor, RMS Utility Service, at (888) 655-4085.

Your presence is not required during the tests, and all public safety authorities (Police and Fire) have been notified of this event. We would appreciate it if you would mention this notice to your neighbors in case they have not seen it.

You can learn more about sewer smoke testing on RMS’s website at

Additional video links to learn about sewer smoke testing:

1. Smoke along sidewalk: 

2. Smoke in backyard:

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Sewer Smoke Testing

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.

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 smoke testing personnel in the area. If you have any doubt as to the source of the smoke in your home or yard, phone 911 immediately.

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. If you have any doubts about the origin of the smoke, please call 911.