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Archive for Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Smoke test to check for sewer leaks

August 16, 2011

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Where there is smoke, there is not always fire.

Lawrence City Hall leaders are trying to get that message out this week as utility crews will be conducting tests in east Lawrence that may fill the air with smoke.

Crews on Thursday and Friday will be working between 11th and 15th streets and Delaware Street and Haskell Avenue. They will be “smoke testing” sewers, which means they’ll be injecting smoke into sewer pipes to see where the system might be leaking.

The testing could affect residents.

“If their houses are properly vented, they will see smoke coming out of their vent pipes on their roofs,” said city spokeswoman Megan Gilliland. “We don’t want people to see that and panic.”

If your house isn’t properly vented, though, the smoke may begin flowing into your house. Jeanette Klamm, a spokeswoman for the city’s utilities department, said the smoke is not harmful.

“It is nontoxic, and there won’t be any residue or smoke smell left behind,” Klamm said. “People mainly just will need to open their windows.”

But they also may need to call a plumber to determine where their venting system is faulty. A faulty venting system could produce a buildup of sewer gas in a home. Gilliland said it will be the responsibility of homeowners to have the system fixed, but she said utility crews will be in the neighborhood to answer questions. She said sometimes all that is needed to fix the situation is for a little water to be poured into a dry floor drain.

The city is conducting the test in hopes of finding out where a large amount of stormwater is entering the sewer system. Klamm said the department has noticed the city’s sewer plant is receiving more water than usual during periods of heavy rain. If the city can find where water is entering the system, it can reduce its treatment costs at the sewer plant.

The city periodically does the smoke testing, but it has been several years, Gilliland said.

Crews will be in the neighborhoods from about 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Crews will place notices on area homes to notify residents about the upcoming tests.

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