DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – If you see smoke coming out of drain grates starting Monday, July 25, there’s no need to call the fire department – Decatur Utilities said it’s only part of annual testing.
Two portions (click here for a map) of the city will be part of the 2022 smoke test – the majority will be in North Decatur south of the Hudson Memorial Bridge, with a smaller portion in Southwest Decatur east of Danville Road SW. DU has contracted Video Industrial Services/RNA Inspections to perform the work and will have “DU Authorized Contractor” magnets on all their vehicles. A representative from the utility company will also be present at each testing site.
The testing process involves injecting non-toxic smoke into the sanitary sewer system. The smoke will help the utility find defects and issues with piping and sanitary sewer systems. Groundwater and storm water can infiltrate the system and cause those issues.
Smoke may be seen coming from manhole covers, roof vents, foundations, catch basins, clean-outs, or broken sewer laterals. DU officials stressed this is normal. Residents and businesses in the area should see no smoke inside buildings as long as they are properly plumbed, vented, and drain traps are filled with water.
Homes and businesses properly connected to the DU sewer system will see smoke coming out of a roof pipe or similar exit pipe. If no smoke comes out, that could indicate a problem in the homeowner or business owner’s system.
Residents in affected areas have already been notified by mail, and will be notified again 24 hours prior to testing. Once notified, DU officials said customers should pour two gallons of water into sinks or other plumbing fixtures that are seldom used so that drain traps are filled with water prior to testing.
For more information on what to expect, visit the Decatur Utilities website.