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Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing


  • The District is currently undertaking a wastewater condition assessment and master plan which includes the analysis of the existing system’s condition and identifying any concerns as well as mitigation measures to alleviate any capacity issues. As part of the project, Onsite Engineering will be completing Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing to identify storm water sources that contribute to the sanitary sewer system, as these sources impact the sewer flows in the system and can overwhelm our sewer pipe system and wastewater treatment plant.
  • The information gathered during the smoke testing project will be used to create a prioritized plan to reduce impacts to the sanitary sewer system. Sewer defects will exist on both public and private property and will need to be corrected in a timely manner. After the smoke testing is complete, notices will be sent to those property owners that were noticed to have smoke leaving through their exterior gutters. Often times, it can be as simple as removing a connected roof downspout and letting it drain above.

What is Smoke Testing?

  • Smoke Testing is a standard method of detecting sewer defects and storm water connections to the sanitary sewer system. Smoke testing consists of placing a high capacity blower on top of a sanitary sewer manhole and forcing “smoke” down into the sewer system. The smoke, under pressure from the blower, travels through the sewer system and escapes through any connection, cracks, leaks, etc., along the way. This quickly reveals storm water sources.

How will I know Smoke Testing is occurring on my street?

  • Onsite Engineering Ltd. will be performing the smoke testing and all personnel will have proper identification and vehicles marked.
  • District staff will be sending out notices to residents in mailboxes and through our online platforms to inform them of the upcoming testing and what steps they can take to ensure no smoke enter your home.
  • Reminder notices will also be distributed door-to-door by Onsite Engineering to residents at least 24-48 hours prior to work in the specific area.
  • Both the Mackenzie Fire Department and the RCMP Office will be made aware of the smoke testing project areas and schedule.

Is the smoke harmful?

  • The smoke used for smoke testing is non-toxic and non-hazardous and is manufactured specifically for this purpose. It leaves no residual or stains, and has no effect on plants, animals, or humans. The smoke should not enter any building, but if it does, it will have a distinct odour and should only last a few minutes with proper ventilation.

What are ways I can keep smoke from entering my home during testing?

We will be asking residents to perform the following tasks to ensure smoke does not enter their homes or buildings:

  • Make sure all drain traps and plumbing fixtures have water in them. Fill seldom used drains (such as floor drains, garage sinks, etc.) with water by running the faucet for 30 to 60 seconds or filling the drain with approximately 3 cups of water.
  • Prepare drains as soon as you receive this smoke testing notice, this only needs to be done once before testing begins.
  • You do not need to be home during the smoke testing field work.
  • Smoke should not enter your home. However, if it does this could be an indication of a defect in your plumbing system. This defect could allow sewer gases to enter inside your home, which is a potential health hazard. Corrections of such defects on private property are the responsibility of the property owner, and a licensed plumber should be consulted to ensure the proper corrections are made. If smoke does enter your home or building, please notify the field technicians who are conducting the test.
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