Don’t be alarmed if you see smoke in Columbia County next week

Smoke testing on sewer lines in Columbia County will begin Tuesday Aug. 3 and should be completed by Wednesday Aug. 4.

What is smoke testing?
Columbia County Water Utility is conducting smoke testing in order to:

  • Locate sewer defects before they become more serious.
  • Reduce quantity and severity of sewer backups.
  • Reduce costs of added sewer cleaning and treatment due to defects.
  • Better understand connections within the system.

The smoke that you see coming from vent stacks on homes, or businesses and from holes in the ground is non-toxic, non-staining, has no odor, white to gray in color and creates no fire hazard, according to county officials. The smoke is generated from a source located at the sanitary sewer manhole. There will be no flame associated with this smoke testing. Therefore, you will not see flames, or detect noticeable heat from this testing.

The smoke should not enter the interior of your building unless you have defective plumbing, or dry drain traps.

You can take the following steps to assist with the tests and limit the potential for smoke to enter your home or building:

  • Pour approximately 24 ounces of water in EACH DRAIN, including floor drains. Special Attention should be given to drains that are seldom or never used. Normal use of each plumbing fixture should achieve this amount.
  • Add water to each drain every three days during the testing dates.

The smoke should not enter into buildings unless leaks or plumbing defects exist. Smoke will be visible from plumbing vents, normally on the roof of homes, on buildings connected to the sanitary sewerage system. Smoke may also be visible from holes in the ground and from gutter systems on homes. 

What if smoke gets into your home or building?

Should you detect smoke in your building, the room should be ventilated through an open door or window. While the smoke is harmless, if you believe you might experience irritation of the respiratory system, leave the area and ventilate well to dissipate the smoke. The smoke is designed to dissipate within 30 minutes and should not damage your belongings. 

Field technicians with Columbia County Water Utility will be conducting the testing and are available to answer questions you may have. 

You may also call the Columbia County Water Utility Conveyance Office at (706) 210-3104 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with any questions.

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