Homeowners May See Smoke from City Sewer Tests

Baihly Warfield
October 11, 2017 10:25 PM

Lakewalk homeowners may see smoke coming from their plumbing over the next few weeks. 

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City engineers will be conducting a smoke test to look for cracks or poor pipe connections, and the smoke may also point out issues with home plumbing. 

Chief Utility Engineer Eric Shaffer said after heavy rains in August, there was sanitary sewer overflow in two spots in the Lakeside neighborhood. The overflow likely means rainwater was getting into the sanitary sewer when it should be going to the storm sewer. 

Shaffer said the smoke test isn't new, but they have not done it in awhile. 

"It's probably been 10 years since we've done it. And that time was out in a West Duluth neighborhood," Shaffer said. 

The smoke is not toxic, and Shaffer said it shouldn't have much of an odor. Homeowners will still want to air it out, though. And Shaffer said they can alert city crews working outside to stop blowing more smoke in. 

So what does it mean if you get smoke in your house? 

"That either means that they have a plumbing fixture that does not have water in the trap or it means they have a plumbing fixture that is not properly trapped," Shaffer said. "If a house is properly trapped, and all the traps have water in them, they should not get any smoke within their house at all."

However, if you do, it is the homeowner's responsibility to find the source and fix the faulty plumbing. Shaffer recommends calling a plumber. He said it is important to do that. 

"If they have a crack in a pipe somewhere that's going to allow the smoke to come in, then it allows sewer gases on a regular basis, and that pipe should be fixed as those sewer gases can be dangerous," he said. 

The project is expected to wrap up by early November. 

For more information, read the city's press release


Baihly Warfield

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