Orange County Utilities performs regular maintenance and inspections on over 2,000 miles of wastewater pipes throughout 636 square miles of service area. One method to locate breaks, cracks, or improper connections in the sewage system is through scheduled smoke testing.
During this process, crews use small blowers over manholes to push non-toxic smoke through sewer pipes. Smoke that escapes through the ground or cracks in the street might indicate defects in the sewer system. It is normal to see smoke rise out of your rooftop sewer vent and nearby manholes.
Residents in the testing area will be notified in advance with a postcard and door hanger. Although smoke should not enter homes, prior to testing residents should pour 2-3 gallons of water into sinks, tubs, and floor drains that are not often used. Seldom-used toilets should also be flushed as smoke could arise due to dry plumbing traps.