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Sewer Pipe Smoke Test Demonstration

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Smoke Testing in Neighborhoods Helps Identify Wastewater Pipe Problems.

As part of Tampa's continued efforts to improve and update its wastewater infrastructure, crews will be conducting smoke testing in neighborhoods to identify defects within sewer system pipes.

Beginning Tuesday, October 3, USSI, a contractor with the City of Tampa Wastewater Department, will begin smoke testing in the neighborhoods of Armenia Terrace, Four Lands, and Al Dana Park, all located to the north of Sligh Avenue, south of West Violet Street, East of N. Himes Avenue, and west of N. Rome Avenue.

"This is an easy and highly effective process to determine which wastewater pipes need our immediate attention," said Eric Weiss, Director of the City of Tampa's Wastewater Department. "These defects are how rainwater and stormwater enter the sewer collection system during heavy rain events, making it critical we discover these issues as soon as possible." 

In 2021, smoke testing was conducted in Riverside Heights. Approximately 650 properties were included in the testing, which identified 66 defects in the sewer collection system. More than 60% were identified as "public," including manhole rings, and covers that required resetting and/or resealing, as well as clean-outs without caps.

Smoke testing is done by placing high capacity blowers over manholes in the street to direct a specially manufactured non-toxic and odorless smoke into the sewer collection system. During testing, property owners may see a white to gray-colored smoke exiting the manholes in the street as well as through the sewer vent stack(s) on roofs. Smoke may occasionally enter private properties if there are defects in the plumbing. The smoke will dissipate within minutes or property owners have the option to open windows, doors and/or turning on fans to quickly eliminate the smoke. The department also recommends contacting a plumber to assist with identifying defects with your plumbing if smoke enters the property while this testing is underway.  

All impacted properties within the testing areas have been notified via the mail. The contractor, USSI, is leaving door hangers to remind residents of the testing, and providing contact information for staff who will be on-site while testing is in progress. 

Eric Weiss, Director of Wastewater for the City of Tampa, will be available for media interviews on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 at 10:00 AM to explain the smoke testing process and the important role it plays in maintaining and improving the wastewater system. Interviews will be conducted at 2711 W. Comanche Avenue and will be followed by a visual demonstration of how smoke testing is conducted.