Smoke Testing and the Sanitary Sewer System - Inflow/Infiltration Reduction Program
Smoke Testing of Sanitary Sewer Systems
Beginning on October 17, 2022, the City of North Miami will perform sanitary sewer smoke testing. During this time you may notice smoky areas around the City. While these patches of smoke may seem out of place, they are safe and part of a safety check known as smoke testing
The City of North Miami Public Works Department performs this testing to identify any defects in the sewer system and protect the environment.
Smoke Testing – Need to Know
- Smoke testing personnel will have proper identification and marked vehicles.
- Smoke is non-toxic and non-hazardous and is manufactured specifically for this purpose. It leaves no residue or stains and has no effect on plants or animals.
- Notices and reminders will be given to residents at least 24 to 48 hours prior to beginning work in their specific area.
- Smoke testing is used to identify sanitary sewer defects and identify corrections to reduce impacts to the sanitary sewer system. Sewer defects on private property may result in notices being sent to those property owners for corrections.
What is smoke testing?
Smoke testing is a common test used to identify sections of the sanitary sewer collection system that may have cracks, leaks or faulty connections that allow rainwater or groundwater to enter the underground pipe network.
What to Expect
While smoke will be visible coming out of manhole covers and vent stacks in roofs, it should not enter homes. To reduce the likelihood of smoke entering a building, the City recommends that you pour 2-3 gallons of water into seldom-used sinks and floor drains, where the smoke could arise due to lack of water pressure. This may be done any time prior to the test.
How the Test Works
The test consists of forcing safe, vegetable-oil-derived smoke into the sewer lines and observing where it escapes to determine the location of leaks and defects. Odorless and safe, the smoke leaves no residuals or stains and has no adverse effect on people, plants or animals.
If Problems are Found
The City may notify you upon completion of the project if there are any problems found on your property. Additional notifications may come from Miami Dade County Department of Regulatory & Economic Resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is this test commonly used?
This routine, preventative maintenance test will help identify leaks, defects and stormwater inflows in the sewer system. It is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to make sure our wastewater collection system is working properly. Image Source: The City of Pearl, Mississippi
Does someone need to be home for this?
No. No one needs to be home during smoke testing.
How long will testing take?
Testing will be performed beginning Monday, October 17 through Friday, November 4.
Is smoke testing safe for people, pets and plants?
Yes. The process is safe. The smoke used is non-toxic, non-staining, and odorless. A person, animal, or plant that comes in contact with testing material will not be in danger.
What can I expect or what will I see if smoke happens to enter my home or place of business?
Should smoke enter your home or business, it will come from a plumbing fixture (toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, etc.). The smoke takes about five to ten minutes to dissipate.
During testing, smoke should not enter a home. However, if it does, this means the homeowner may have a potential plumbing problem on their property. The City recommends the homeowner calls a plumber at their convenience. Repairs made by the City will only occur in the public right-of-way.
If smoke does enter the building during testing, open windows and doors to increase ventilation. Note the location of the emission, exit the building and inform the testing crews. Smoke from the testing process should dissipate within a few minutes.
If you are unsure that the smoke is related to testing, please call 911.
Has the City ever done testing like this before?
Yes. It is a Miami-Dade County Environmental Resources Management (DERM) requirement to have this test performed for every review cycle (typically every 10 years).
Why is the City using this method?
Smoke testing is cost-effective and efficient when trying to identify potential concerns in our sewer systems. The City is required to submit an SSES evaluation (Smoke Testing) on or before November 12, 2022 of the entire gravity system, as required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources (RER).
Who pays if defects are found?
If the defect is found on private property, it is the obligation of the homeowner. If the defect is found in the Public Right of Way, the defect will be addressed by the City