Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing

Last updated on April 04, 2024


In an effort to provide efficient wastewater collection and treatment within the City of Orlando, the Water Reclamation Division will proactively and periodically perform a smoke test on the sanitary sewer system to identify leaks and defects, thereby improving wastewater treatment operations and efficiency. 

Smoke testing can take up to one or two weeks, depending on the size of the testing area. Please be advised that inclement weather and unforeseen circumstances can prolong the project.

The material used during smoke testing is odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic. Smoke should not enter a home or business. Should smoke enter a property, it may be an inclination the property owner has a plumbing issue on private property. The owner will want to call a plumber of their choice at their convenience. We apologize, but City crews or a competitive bid contractor cannot repair sewer systems on private property.

The direct impact on residents or businesses will be minimal. Again, smoke should not enter a property. Homeowners do not need to prepare in advance for smoke testing. They may also continue with their daily routines. We do recommend property owners run water or flush toilets for fixtures not often used.

Smoke testing will occur between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There may be times when smoke testing occurs on Saturdays. 

During smoke testing, residents may experience several or all of the following: 

  • A temporary increase in noise
  • Equipment staged within the roadway or public right-of-way
  • Work crews accessing sanitary sewer manholes throughout the area
  • Temporary road closures or detours
  • Temporary sidewalk closures or detours
  • Smoke may enter a home should there be a potential plumbing problem on their private property
  • Crews, vehicles, and equipment working within the public right-of-way
  • Crews and vehicles leaving and returning frequently

Should smoke testing occur within your area, City of Orlando employees or a competitive bid contractor will notify property owners with a residential brochure on the front door or garage at least 24-48 hours in advance.

Special Requests

While smoke testing is safe, residents with heart or respiratory conditions may contact Water Reclamation Dispatch at 407.246.2660 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to inquire about testing schedules and have a call ahead placed, only if needed.  

How long does smoke testing take?

Not long. It is over without most homeowners knowing it ever took place. On average individual locations take 15-minutes to 45-minutes. The total duration for small-scale testing can take several days. A citywide project can take 60 to 180 days.

Do I or someone needs to be home for testing?

No. No one needs to be home.

Do I need to prepare for the upcoming smoke testing?

No. However, we recommend running water for toilets, sinks, tubs, and showers for a few seconds.

Is smoke testing safe for people, pets, and plants?

Yes. The smoke used is non-toxic, non-staining, and odorless.

What happens if smoke enters my home or business?

Should smoke enter your home or business, it will come from a plumbing fixture (toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, etc.). 

The smoke takes about five to ten minutes to dissipate. During testing, smoke should not enter a home. However, if it does, this means the homeowner may have a potential plumbing problem on their property. 

The City recommends the homeowner call a plumber at their convenience. Repairs made by the City will only occur in the public right-of-way.

Who do I contact for questions before, during, or after smoke testing?

Feel free to call our Water Reclamation Division at 407.246.2660.

Has the City ever used smoke testing like this before?

Yes. The City's Public Works Department conducts an in-house test like this on a smaller scale.

Why is this method chosen to inspect the City's sewer system?

 Smoke testing is cost-effective and efficient when identifying potential concerns in our sewer systems. 

If we were to use an alternate method like TV inspection, it could take months, maybe even years, to complete such a task. In addition to an increase in duration, the City would also increase costs.

What are the industry standards for smoke testing?

Smoke testing is used extensively by utilities throughout the US to pinpoint problem areas. It is a quick and easy way to find potential areas of concern. Other cities in Florida also use smoke testing.