City of Springfield Environmental Services will perform sanitary sewer smoke testing in portions of the Rountree, Delaware, Phelps Grove and University Heights neighborhoods beginning Tuesday, Aug. 6. Testing throughout the area is expected to last through the end of the month (weather permitting).
Boundaries of the testing area correspond with stormwater basins that drain into Fassnight Creek. The testing area is located roughly between Glenstone Avenue (east) and Holland Avenue (west), and between Cherokee Street (south) and Cherry Street (north).
Smoke testing is conducted to help locate leaks in the sanitary sewer system. Harmless, odorless smoke is blown into sewer manholes in the street, goes through the pipes and comes out where there are broken pipes and where roof downspouts, outside area drains, or foundation drains are connected to the sanitary sewers.
The smoke testing program is part of the City’s $200 million overflow control plan to reduce sanitary sewer overflows in Springfield’s aging sewer system over the next 10 years. The City’s plan was approved by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in 2015.
How does smoke testing work?
Colorless, odorless chemical smoke is blown into sewer manholes in the street, travels through the pipes and comes out where there are leaks in the sewer system. Crews walking along each property watch for smoke coming out of yards or gutters and collect data of any location where a potential defect is detected. The smoke is non-toxic and does not create a fire hazard.
Residents and property owners can expect to be notified by mail two weeks before smoke testing will occur in their area. Days before, doorhangers are left on front doors, reminding residents of the upcoming test and providing a contact number to the field technician conducting the test. Flashing message signs are often posted along major roadways to notify motorists that a smoke test is in progress.
Testing days and locations are also communicated to 911 dispatchers, the Police Department and the Fire Department in case they receive calls.
Following smoke testing, an informational open house will be held in various portions of the testing area. This is an opportunity to educate residents on the City’s Private Sewer Repair Program and schedule voluntary plumbing evaluations to fix potential defects on private property at no cost to the property owner.
Smoke Testing Tips
• You do not need to be home when the smoke testing is performed. Field inspectors will be noticeably documenting and taking photos during the smoke test, so the defects detected may be found and repaired at a later date.
• All smoke testing crew members are uniformed and carry identification badges. They will travel in clearly marked vehicles.
• Sometimes smoke may enter your home or business through infrequently used floor, shower and sink drains. Pour 24 ounces of water into all drains a few days prior to the test. If smoke does enter, residents should contact the smoke testing crew working in the area.
• If you notice smoke coming out of your property, contact the smoke testing crew. This could mean that you have improper connections or broken pipes on your property.