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2023 Smoke Testing Begins

In an effort to provide a safe, economical, efficient, and environmentally sound sanitary sewer system throughout the City of Decatur, Decatur Utilities periodically performs smoke testing of its sewer system. This year's 2023 testing began on September 5th and will last for several weeks. Video Industrial Services/Underground Consulting is the authorized DU contractor performing this testing.

Here’s how it works.

Authorized crews from Video Industrial Services will use a device to inject smoke into a sewer manhole, then watch to see if smoke escapes through the ground or through storm drains indicating the presence of damaged pipe or cross-connection.

Crews will note the location of the problem and schedule repairs. Note: We only schedule repairs to DU’s sewer mains and portions of the sewer service up to the Right of Way.

If the homeowner’s system is properly tied into the DU sewer system, smoke will come out of the homeowner’s vent pipe. (As shown below.)

If no smoke comes out, that may indicate a problem in the homeowner’s system.

DU’s goal is to keep storm water out of our sewer lines. When storm water or ground water enters the sewer system through damaged pipes or mistaken connections from storm water sources, it takes up valuable capacity in our sewer lines – especially during heavy rain.

One common problem discovered in smoke testing is homeowner’s broken clean-out caps. When the clean-out cap is damaged, storm water and debris can come into DU’s sewer lines.

Smoke test also benefits the customer by alerting them to dangers such as uncapped sewage lines which could allow sewer gases to enter the home. The customer is responsible for repairs to their own plumbing system.

It is important to note that the smoke used for smoke testing is safe and non-toxic.

Important Notice to Residents:

Water can evaporate from unused plumbing fixtures. If you have a bathroom, plumbing fixture, or basement floor drain that is not used or is seldom used, please pour at least two gallons of water into these fixtures the day before the scheduled smoke testing.

You can find technical data for the smoke used in smoke testing at

More information and a short video on the process is available at:

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