Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing

Smoke testing is a common test used in the utility industry to determine if there are leaks and/or cracks in underground wastewater lines. We conduct smoke testing in order to provide you with the best possible safe, efficient and environmentally sound wastewater services. Smoke testing has been recommended by the EPA as a great way to identify problems in the wastewater system. If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding smoke testing in your neighborhood, please contact JEA Project Outreach.

A JEA employee will use a machine to force smoke into a sewer line through a manhole in your neighborhood. If there’s an underground break in the line, the smoke will rise out of that break – through the ground – as seen in this illustration.

How Smoke Testing Works

Smoke TestingPrior to testing, please pour two gallons of water in seldom-used sinks or floor drains to prevent smoke from entering your home or business. The smoke will only enter your home or business if you have defective plumbing, dried-up sink traps or floor drains, and should only affect your home for approximately 15 minutes. Smoke should not come into your house through your sprinkler system either.

It is odorless and 100 percent safe, but may cause minor irritation to some people. If you are away during the test, it will not hurt any pets or household plants. The smoke does not leave behind a residue, stain upholstery or become a fire hazard.

If Smoke Enters Your Home or Business

Please step outside and talk to the crew members at work on the testing. They can answer a lot of your questions and concerns. You can also call JEA Project Outreach at (904) 665-7500.

The smoke is an indication of a plumbing defect. If the smoke is on public property, JEA will fix it. But if the smoke is inside your home that means it’s on private property and is the property owner’s responsibility. It also means there is a plumbing problem and you will likely need to call a plumber. The smoke should disappear quickly; you can also open a window or outside door near the smoky area to let it air out faster.

If you are outside and see smoke coming from a vent stack on a house, don’t worry. The house is not on fire. This is normal. However, smoke coming from holes in the ground is not normal and is considered a defect. JEA will photograph and log all defects like this. We will also contact property owners if a defect is found on private property. 

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