Smoke Testing Is Coming To Dover Township!
“I&I” is a short acronym for a huge problem most sewered communities face, Infiltration and Inflow. Inflow occurs when rainwater is misdirected into the sanitary sewer system instead of storm sewers. Examples are: roof leaders, yard and area drains, manhole covers, and cross connections from storm drains. The remedy for inflow is to remove improper connections to the sanitary sewer system. Infiltration occurs when ground water seeps into the sanitary sewer system through cracks or leaks in sewer pipes. The cracks or leaks may be caused by age related deterioration, loose joints, damage or root infiltration. The remedy for infiltration is repairing or replacing the leaking infrastructure. Ignored I&I results in excessive flows in the sewers and into the wastewater treatment plant. This becomes a very costly problem for all of us. We have more than 100 miles of sewer underground and it’s difficult to find these leaks. Smoke testing can help us and our residents.
Smoke testing can be a very efficient and cost effective way to locate and identify the source of an inflow or infiltration problem. The smoke used is non-toxic and does not leave any residue. This special smoke is applied under pressure and will fill the sewer main line plus any connection, and also will follow the path of a leak to the ground surface, quickly revealing the source of I&I. See the picture. Only enough force to overcome atmospheric pressure is required. The crews will be checking the area for any escaping smoke. They will carefully check around houses with close attention given to cleanouts and roof leaders. We may see smoke coming out of the grass, wooded areas, or cracks in the pavement, indicating leaks. If smoke is found during the inspection, it will be carefully recorded on camera so that problems can then be corrected. Best results are obtained when the water tables are low and on dry days since water is an excellent smoke barrier. Smoke testing is avoided on windy days because even a very light breeze can disperse a wisp of smoke before it is visible at the source of a leak.
Notices will be posted notifying residents of when the smoke testing will occur. Only the properties that are in the surrounding area of the vicinity that has been chosen to test will be notified
The notices will include the following information along with the testing date:
The non-toxic smoke is manufactured specifically for this purpose, leaves no residuals or stains, and has no effects on plants or animals. It has a distinctive, but not unpleasant, odor. The visible smoke and odor last only a few minutes where there is adequate ventilation.
The smoke should not enter your home. However, if smoke does enter your home any of the following items are the probable cause.
- The vents connected to your building’s sewer lateral are inadequate, defective, or improperly installed.
- The traps under sinks, tubs, basins, showers, floor drains, etc. are dry, defective, improperly installed, or missing.
- The pipes, connections, and seals of the building’s sewer system are damaged, defective, have plugs missing, or are improperly installed.
During the week prior to test date, pour water down ALL drains in your home or building to make sure that all your drain traps are full.
York County 911 will be notified about our smoke testing. If any smoke should enter your home please call 911, so the fire department can verify the source. Please just don’t assume it is smoke from us.
If traces of the smoke or its odor enter your house or building, it is an indication that odor from the sewer system may also be entering. Sewer gases can be unpleasant, dangerous, and a potential health hazard. The location, identification, and correction of the source of any smoke entering your house is urgently advised.
The Township can provide assistance in locating the source of smoke entering your house. However, correction of any defects in the pipes and sewer on private property is the responsibility of the owner. If smoke is observed in your home and the source is not readily identified or you have any questions, please call (717) 292-3634
A question from a concerned resident:
“There was a large white truck- one of the huge square vans- with Dover Township logo on it parked in the street in front of my house. There is a man outside the back of the truck and he seems to be talking to someone in the truck. What are they doing?”
Answer from the Sewer Collections department:
That white truck is the Dover Township sewer camera truck performing a vital service to the township and its residents. The township has over 100 miles of sewer pipe underground, ranging from 8” diameter to 42” diameter. These pipes have to be inspected on a regular basis. The truck you saw is equipped with sewer televising equipment. An operator stays by the manhole just to the rear of the truck and controls the feed wires attached to the camera. The camera is attached to a contraption that looks like a strange miniature moon rover. The wheels are changed out to different sizes to match the pipe diameter.
The goal is to have the camera centered in the pipe for better visibility. The camera unit is controlled by another person who sits in front of the computer screen located inside the truck. The image from the camera is projected onto two monitors so that the operator at the manhole can see what the operator inside the truck sees. If the manhole is located in the middle of the street, more people are needed for traffic control. As part of the continuous improvement of services to the township residents, we are also training more employees in the art of sewer camera use, control, and interpretation. Therefore, you may see 2 or 3 people standing outside the back of the truck or inside in front of the computer getting training and experience.
It takes experience to interpret the image – is that really a crack in the pipe or is it a joint with gunk on it? Does the pipe need to be dug up and replaced immediately or, can it be repaired from the inside by special equipment? It’s a lot cheaper to fix a pipe from the inside than to dig up the street. So, if you see that square truck, remember they are trying to find problems when they are small problems and cheaper to fix.