Smoke Testing


As demands on aging infrastructure continues to burden our publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities, smoke testing has proven to be an important aspect of most successful inflow and infiltration (I&I) programs.  Smoke testing is one of many methods used in conjunction with a complete sanitary sewer evaluation survey (SSES). Aside from smoke testing, EST performs other useful inspection services including dyed water testing, manhole inspections, CCTV investigations and continuous flow monitoring.

EST performs smoke testing using of high powered (1,750 cu ft. of air per minute) blowers capable of blowing odorless non-toxic smoke mixed with large volumes of air into the sanitary sewer line through a manhole. The smoke travels the path of least resistance and quickly shows up at sites that are flagged as potential inflow sources. Smoke testing can identify broken manholes, illegal connections including roof drains, sump pumps and yard drains, uncapped lines and can even identify cracked mains and laterals. One advantage of smoke testing that it is a method of inspecting both main lines and laterals and sometimes even sections of line that were not known to exist or thought to be unconnected can be identified. EST performs smoke testing during dry weather months, typically Summer and Fall, as these dry conditions allow smoke a better opportunity to escape to the ground surface.

Prior to initiation of a smoke testing program EST works with the municipality and their consultants to develop a proactive public notification program. These programs may include notifications in local papers, local cable stations, door hangers, and mailers. All of these methods can be used to explain how the smoke testing program will be executed and educate the public regarding the benefits of the program. In addition, it should instruct residents on what to do and who to call if smoke should enter their homes. In order to avoid any panic or confusion during the program, it also is critical that local police and fire departments are notified daily as to where and when smoke testing will be taking place.

Contact us today to request a quotation or learn more about EST’s smoke testing capabilities.




Smoke Testing FAQs

What are EST technicians looking for when performing smoke testing?

By isolating line segments and forcing high volumes of smoke into the sewer lines, EST field crews are looking for improper connection to the sanitary sewer.  For example, if smoke is observed coming out of a drain manhole or a roof leader, then it becomes evident that an improper connection exists.

When and how will the work be scheduled?

Smoke testing is typically performed during dry weather periods in the summer and fall.  EST technicians will alert residents typically one week prior to smoke testing by delivering door hanger notifications.

How will EST’s field crews identify themselves?

EST’s work crews will be in company marked vehicles, wearing EST uniforms, and company ID badges.

What kind of data is collected during smoke testing?

Data is collected for each line section that is inspected.  Documentation includes date/time of testing, observations, photographs, reference map/sketch and the length of the line inspected. In addition, a drainage area calculation is provided for all positive findings.

What health and safety precautions are taken when performing smoke testing?

A non-toxic non-staining screening smoke is used to find leaks and confirm direct connections to the sanitary sewer.  The smoke is non-toxic, but may still affect residents with asthma/emphysema/difficulties breathing if it enters their household.  In this event, it is recommended the affected person(s) be moved outdoors where there is fresh air.  The smoke is not harmful to pets and residents can still use their water while tests are being performed.

How is Smoke Testing Data presented?

A final report will be generated in both hard copy and electronic formats.  This report will summarize results and will include embedded photos. The MACP compliant report will include a long list of observations, measurements and photos for each manhole. 

New England Office

124 Crescent Road, Needham, MA 02494

Mid-Atlantic Office

127-G Gaither Drive, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054