City of St. Clairsville

Smoke Testing of Sanitary Sewers

Posted on May 5th, 2022 by

At the direction of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), the City of St. Clairsville’s Waste Water crew will be conducting smoke tests of sanitary sewers in the City; the start date of this project will be finalized as soon as the ground dries out from the winter and spring snow/rain events. We anticipate this work could begin as early as June and will continue until the project is complete.

The smoke tests are needed to assist the City in locating breaks and defects in the sanitary sewer system as well as illegal discharges of storm water into the sewer system. During the test, you may see smoke coming from vent stacks on buildings or from holes in the ground. Do not be alarmed. The smoke has no odor, is non-toxic, non-staining, and does not create a fire hazard. The smoke will dissipate in a few minutes.

Before the City conducts these tests, please pour at least one gallon of tap water into each basement floor drain in your residence (or business) and into each unused sink, tub and/or shower drain. This water will seal the drain traps so that smoke will not enter your building through the drains during the tests. A drain trap is the U- or S-shaped curved pipe coming down from the drain opening below a kitchen or bathroom sink; a toilet has an internal trap shape to its porcelain configuration. The drain trap is designed to retain a small amount of water each time the sink (or toilet or tub/shower) drains which seals the drain and keeps sewer gases from escaping the drain and entering your home. There are traps in every drain because any connection that leads to the drain system is also a possible outlet for sewer gas.

If smoke should enter your building during the smoke test, it likely means that there are defects in your plumbing that could allow sewer gas to enter your residence or building. If you notice smoke inside during the smoke test, open the doors and windows to ventilate any smoke. The City also advises you to contact a plumber as soon as possible to schedule a check of your internal plumbing.

Prior to the start date of the smoke testing project, we will notify residents in these ways: a post card; notice on the City’s website; hang tags on doors; and/or through the Belmont County 9-1-1 CodeRED system. Please make every effort to be available on the day(s) on which the City advises that it will be conducting the smoke test on your street.

It would be most beneficial if someone could be in the residence when the smoke test is conducted in the unlikely event that smoke would enter your building. Although this smoke is non-toxic, its presence inside would necessitate more exploration on your part (or that of the owner of the building if you are a renter). If you have any of the following special circumstances, please plan to be at home or take appropriate measures before we conduct the smoke test:

  • pets that will be confined alone in the residence or building during the test;
  • a disabled person who will be alone, or anyone sleeping during the test;
  • any individuals with respiratory problems who will be in the building; or
  • an elderly person inside who may be alarmed or confused by any smoke.

If you have not already done so, the City leadership urges you to register with CodeRED, the Belmont County alert (and general notification) system. There is no charge to register for or to use CodeRed, and your personal information will be kept confidential. For details on CodeRed sign-up options, please contact the City’s Municipal Utilities Office at 740-695-1410 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 – 4:30). The City will be able to better communicate news of the upcoming smoke test to you if you are registered with CodeRED. The City also uses this system to notify residents if boil orders are needed and of other time-sensitive events.

The City’s Waste Water crew will inject smoke into the sewer system in a certain neighborhood, allowing the smoke to vent through many sources including, but not limited to: downspouts; gutters; storm drains; manholes; pipes or drains in yards or driveways; or service lines, which are the exterior, underground pipes that supply a home with electricity, gas, water and sewer functions. If questions, please call 740-695-1410 or 740-695-0156. Thank you.