The smoke should not enter your home unless you have defective plumbing or dried up drain traps. If it does, please pour a small amount of water in seldom-used drains to fill the trap and contact RJN staff working in the area. Contact information was also provided on the notifications mailed to your home or the door tag notification.
What is the benefit to my community?
Smoke testing is one technique used to identify areas where unnecessary groundwater or rainfall is entering the sewer system which can cause basement backups, overflows, and higher costs for treatment.
What is smoke testing?
Using odorless, non-toxic smoke candles and high capacity blowers, smoke is forced through the sewer pipes. As shown in the video, the blowers are placed on top of manholes. Anywhere the smoke exits, there is potential for rain or ground water to seep into the sewer system.
How will I know when smoke testing will be performed in my neighborhood?
At least 24 hours before smoke testing is scheduled to start, RJN will place door hangers on the front door of every building where testing will be conducted. Signs will be prominently displayed on the street when smoke testing is in progress. If requested by your municipality, smoke testing schedules and sites will also be posted in the Client Portal of our website.
How are RJN crews recognizable?
RJN staff will carry identification badges and wear apparel that is clearly marked with RJN logos. RJN signage will also be visible on all vehicles.
Is the smoke hazardous?
Not at all. The smoke that comes out of the vent stacks on houses or holes in the ground is non-toxic, harmless, and has no odor. It does not create a fire hazard.
Do I need to do anything to prepare for smoke testing?
Drain traps should always be filled with water to prevent sewer gases from entering the building. About 3 cups of water should be poured in floor and sink drains, filling the traps to prevent smoke from entering the home. If smoke does enter, the resident should consult a licensed plumber. If harmless smoke can enter through faulty plumbing, the potential exists for dangerous sewer gases to also enter the home. Should smoke enter your building or structure, contact a member of the smoke testing crew working in the area.
What if smoke shows in my yard or driveway?
This could mean that there is a drain on the property that is connected to the sewer lateral or that the lateral has breaks or cracks in the pipe that cause drain runoff after it has percolated into the soil.
Do I need to be home when smoke testing is performed?
Homeowners do not need to be home and at no time will field crews need to enter residences or buildings. Smoke testing crews will be noticeable documenting the testing, taking photos, and measuring distances.
What if a test yields no smoke defects?
Obviously, if the sanitary sewer line and the lateral are in good condition, and there are no drainage facilities connected to them, the smoke has no place to go other than up the house vent stack, as it is supposed to. However, sometimes the smoke doesn't appear at all even though there is a defect. RJN crews are trained to identify these "suspect" situations and may recommend dye testing to conclusively determine whether the suspect is positive or negative. But this is a subject for its own set of Q&As.
As a part of your City’s sanitary sewer evaluation survey (SSES), representatives from RJN Group, Inc. may be conducting dye testing in order to confirm potential sources of stormwater entering the sanitary sewer system. Dye testing is an investigation that is performed in follow-up to other inspections such as building sewer inspections.
During a building sewer inspection program, RJN field crews identify potential indoor sources of clear water (sump pumps) and potential outside sources of clear water (downspouts and area drains) that may be connected to the sanitary sewer. These sources may require dye testing to confirm whether or not these connections discharge to the sanitary sewer.
Dye testing consists of entering non-toxic fluorescent dye with water into a potential source (sump pump, downspout, or area drain) and tracing the dye to confirm or disprove its connection to the sanitary sewer. RJN dye testing field crews will display photo identification. Dye tests may take up to one hour to complete.
During smoke testing RJN identified areas where stormwater is leaking into the sanitary sewers. Dye flooding is a technique that is used to pinpoint those locations so they can be repaired.
Dyed water testing is performed by flooding an area with non-toxic fluorescent dye to identify the location and magnitude of a defect.
Inflow sources are identified by dye water flooding storm sewer sections, stream sections, ditch sections, and ponding areas that may be contributing to inflow.
Plugs are used to conserve water and to isolate the specific storm sewer segment being tested. Flow measurements are taken in the downstream sanitary sewer manhole before flooding and then again at peak flood conditions to quantify the extraneous flows coming from the cross connections.
At peak flooding conditions, CCTV cameras are inserted into the sanitary sewer and are used to televise the locations where green dyed water is observed flowing into the sanitary sewers. Manholes adjacent to the flooded storm sewer are also inspected for defects, such as leaky frame seals and wall joints.
Residents may see green dye in the storm sewers and ditches; this will dissipate quickly and does not stain the ground.
Building inspections are typically conducted by appointment and require less an one hour for the inspection.
Building Inspections are conducted as part of a municipal sewer investigation study to identify areas in a sewer system where clean water/rain water is entering the system. Sewer systems are designed to carry sewerage from homes and businesses to a treatment facility. When rain water is being transferred to the system unnecessarily it can cause the system to be overtaxed, which can cause overflows and basement backups AND increase treatment costs because of the higher flows requiring treatment. Building inspections are conducted to identify unnecessary connections to the sewer system from sump pump connections, downspouts, and area drains.
There are two types of Building Inspections: 1) External and 2) Internal. An external inspection is conducted by walking the exterior of a building to look for downspouts that outlet into the ground, drains, and other potential exterior drainage features. An internal inspection requires access to the building, typically to the basement, to look at sump pump setup and connections.
In some cases, an inspection may also require dye tracing to determine whether an identified connection is actually connected to the sewer system. Dye tracing is simply water (mixed with non-toxic fluorescent dye) poured into the connection (drain, downspout, etc.) with CCTV cameras inserted in the system to track the flow and see whether the dye is present in the sewer system.
Building Inspections are one phase of a comprehensive municipal sewer system study. Typically, neighborhoods/areas are earmarked for inspection because analysis of flows in the area showed the potential for excessive clean water entering the system. In most cases, building inspection programs are only conducted as a last phase in a program.
RJN inspectors can be easily identified by their photo identification. They will only inspect for potential sources of clean water and will not conduct any other building-related inspections. The inspection should take between 15 and 30 minutes and there is no charge these inspections.