Durham County

Smoke coming out of the street, out of your pipes? Don’t fret, it isn’t dangerous

Durham will be conducting sewer smoke tests beginning Monday similar to this one in Kilgore, Texas. A non-toxic smoke is pumped into a manhole and workers look for it escaping from breaks in the line.
Durham will be conducting sewer smoke tests beginning Monday similar to this one in Kilgore, Texas. A non-toxic smoke is pumped into a manhole and workers look for it escaping from breaks in the line.

Don’t be alarmed if you see smoke wafting up from the streets in downtown Durham next week, it’s only a test.

Starting Monday, the city’s water management department will begin the next phase of testing sewer lines for defects and breaks.

They’ll be pumping a non-toxic smoke into manholes, which will help them identify trouble spots needing repair. The smoke is non-toxic and does not leave stains or residue. It is comparable to substances more commonly used in fog machines for entertainment purposes. It appears white to gray in color and has a slight fragrance. It poses no fire hazard.

The smoke can appear at any point in the system where there is an open break in the line, such as storm drains, sewer cleanouts, manholes, and roof vents.

Smoke also may escape through homes, offices, yards, or anywhere poor plumbing exists. Smoke entering a home or building during this testing may indicate a problem with the plumbing. The city is not responsible for plumbing located on private property.

The company conducting the tests recommends property owners pour water into sinks, tubs and floor drains that are not used every day. This will fill p-traps and help prevent smoke from entering the building. Occupants do not have to be present at home or at work during testing.

For information, visit http://durhamnc.gov/944/, like Durham Saves Water on Facebook, and follow @DurhamWater on Twitter.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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