Have you ever seen smoke coming out of a manhole or the vents in a roof? While this may seem unusual, it’s actually the result of something called smoke test plumbing, a test used to find leaks in sewer pipelines. Let’s discuss what smoke tests do and address some common concerns about them.
What does a smoke test do?
When conducting a smoke test, the technician injects an artificially produced smoke into the pipes, where it will force itself out of any openings in the system. If the pipe system has leaks, the smoke will force itself through the leak and alert the technician to its presence. A system without any leaks will force the smoke out through a nearby manhole cover or home vent.
Common Smoke Testing Questions
Will there be smoke in my house?
This is unlikely, but it is possible that the smoke could enter through improperly installed or damaged plumbing. Although your first reaction to this might be annoyance, the presence of smoke indicates that your home is vulnerable to dangerous sewer gases. Locate one of the smoke testers if there’s smoke in your home.
Is the smoke dangerous?
No, the artificial smoke used is not harmful to you, pets or plants. It isn’t flammable and won’t stain fabrics either, but you should open windows for ventilation to prevent prolonged exposure.
How should I prepare for a smoke test?
Run water through any infrequently used drains (such as an unused guest sink). Although the smoke isn’t harmful, consider placing pets in an area without any plumbing and cracking a window for ventilation if you won’t be at home to attend to them.
Do I have to be home during the test?
You don’t have to be home while the smoke test is conducted, nor do you have to worry about anyone entering your house.
Can my smoke alarm be activated from the smoke?
The artificial smoke may set off your smoke alarm. If it does, open doors and windows to ventilate. Be cautious — call 911 if you’re unsure of the source of the smoke.