Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing Coming To Geneva, St. Charles

Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing Coming To Geneva, St. Charles

Where there’s smoke, there isn’t always fire. In fact, for Geneva and St. Charles in the coming days, smoke might mean testing of sanitary sewers.

Below are news releases from the cities of Geneva and St. Charles regarding upcoming projects.

Geneva East Smoke Testing Starts Aug. 31

The city of Geneva will be performing sanitary sewer smoke testing from Monday, Aug. 31, to Friday, Sept. 25 in the Geneva East subdivision, weather permitting.

Public Works NewsSmoke testing consists of blowing white smoke with pressure into the sanitary sewer manholes, forcing the smoke to exit through roof plumbing vents, downspouts, window well drains, cracked pipes, etc.

The smoke is non-toxic and harmless to humans, pets, food, and material goods, although some people may find it irritating to their nasal passage. The smoke also leaves no residue and will not stain or corrode surfaces.

Deuchler Engineering Corp., the city’s contractor, hopes to achieve the following goals with the testing:

  • Assess the condition of the sanitary sewer to determine areas to repair/replace as needed;
  • Reduce stormwater inflow and infiltration entering the sanitary sewer system; and
  • Mitigate the potential for sanitary sewer surcharging and/or basement backups.

A smoke testing progress map can be found on the City’s website.

The city will be sending a letter to all impacted properties and units impacted by the smoke testing, and a yellow door hanger will be distributed as a reminder a minimum of 24 hours in advance of the contractor beginning operations.

Residents are requested to pour water into floor drains, laundry tubs and other plumbing fixtures that are not regularly used upon receiving the yellow door hanger. This step will fill the fixture traps and help prevent smoke from entering homes.

Geneva East residents are not required to be home during the test. People with respiratory conditions or other concerns can contact Deuchler Project Manager Bobby Peters at 630-800-0905 or via email.

The city also has posted a FAQ document to help answer some of the most common smoke testing inquiries.

Questions about the sanitary sewer evaluation can be directed to the City’s Public Works Department Water Division by calling 630-232-1551.

St. Charles is Testing Sanitary Sewers in 2 Phases

The city of St. Charles is testing its sanitary sewer system to identify faulty lines or connections where water runoff from rain or snow melts may enter the system or where sewer gases may escape.

The testing is required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and includes two phases: Smoke Testing and Manhole Inspection.

The testing will take place on the west side of the city.

Click here for a map of the areas to be tested.

All affected residences and businesses have been notified prior to testing. Signs also will be posted in the neighborhoods being tested. Engineering Enterprises, Inc. of Sugar Grove and Dukes Root Control of Crystal Lake are the contractors for this project.

Phase I: Smoke Testing – Aug. 31 to Sept. 11

Smoke testing pushes air combined with liquid smoke into sewer lines to disclose the location of leaks and faulty connections to the sanitary sewer system. The smoke is non-toxic, and safe for humans and pets. It is similar to the special effects smoke used in concerts and haunted houses. During the test, smoke may be seen coming from vent stacks on the roof and out of the ground.

Smoke will not enter homes or buildings unless the plumbing is defective or drain traps are dry. The smoke has no odor, is non-toxic, non-staining, does not create a fire hazard, and will dissipate in a few minutes.

Pouring water into any floor drains and into any unused sinks prior to the test will seal the drain traps so smoke will not enter through the drains.

Phase II: Manhole Inspections – Aug. 31 to Sept. 25

Manholes are inspected with 360-degree imaging. There will be no interruption to sanitary sewer service during the test. Residents may notice the contractor’s vans parked outside and workers lowering imaging equipment into manholes.

Some of the city-owned manholes are in the back yards; crews will be entering yards to complete these inspections.

“We appreciate everyone’s cooperation during the sanitary sewer assessment process,” said Environmental Services Manager Tim Wilson. “While we have notified businesses and residents in the neighborhoods to be tested, we ask residents to help us get the word out, especially to elderly neighbors. We want to be sure people are aware of the testing so they are not alarmed by the smoke.”

Why Test the Sanitary Sewer Lines for Faults?

  • Reduce Inconvenient Sanitary Sewer Backups — When a significant amount of ground water flows into the sanitary sewer system through faulty lines, it can overwhelm system capacity and cause sanitary sewer backups.
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Wastewater Treatment — All water in sanitary sewer lines is treated at the City’s wastewater plant. Significant amounts of groundwater flowing into the sanitary sewer mains can lead to millions of gallons of water being treated unnecessarily.
  • Identify Location of Sanitary Sewer Gas Leaks — Faulty sanitary sewer mains or connections could allow sewer gases to escape.

For more information about the manhole inspections or smoke testing, call St. Charles Public Works Department at 630.377.4405 or visit the 2020 Sewer Smoke Testing & Manhole Inspection Page on the city’s website.

SOURCE: city of Geneva and city of St. Charles news releases