Submitted by the Town of Friday Harbor
The Town of Friday Harbor has hired SFE Global to perform “smoke testing” of the sewer systems within town neighborhoods beginning Sept. 4-6.
The purpose of smoke testing is to identify areas of leaks and cross-connections where rainwater and other surface drainage may be entering the sanitary sewer system. The goal is to identify and eliminate these sources of unnecessary inflow into the system and to reduce sanitary sewer overflows. This yields significant cost savings in sewer operations and maintenance and has a positive impact on the environment. The smoke testing program also allows the town to locate problems in private sewer lines that need to be repaired.
Smoke testing is a very simple process that involves pumping non-toxic smoke into sewer main lines, allowing smoke to seep up through the soil and indicate any cracks or line deterioration. The smoke used in the testing is harmless and non-staining. During the brief test procedure, you may expect to see small volumes of test smoke coming from neighboring roof vents, perimeter drainage, or system manholes.
The smoke should not enter your home or place of business. If it does, it is likely coming from a dry sanitary connection such as a toilet, sink or floor drain that is rarely used. Owners can prevent test smoke from passing through dry connections by pouring a quart of water into any rarely used sanitary connections to seal off the plumbing traps. It is a good idea to do this periodically in homes or businesses to make sure sewer gases cannot get inside the building in general.
Town staff ask that outside field crews working nearby be notified if smoke does enter a home or business during the test. They will assist in locating the access point and can help prevent further incidence of smoke or sewer gases entering the building.
Contact the town’s public works office at 360-378-2154 or the wastewater department at 360-378-5400 if you have any questions or concerns regarding this testing.