Neighborhoods in Stafford County range from post-war housing to brand new neighborhoods. The utilities infrastructure supporting these neighborhoods also varies in age. Stafford County is continually identifying ways to enhance its infrastructure to be more efficient and better-performing, saving money for citizens and extending the life of the infrastructure. To that end, Stafford Utilities will be performing “smoke testing” in some neighborhoods in the southern portion of the county to pinpoint areas where unwanted rainwater and groundwater are entering the sewer system.
Smoke testing is a technique used to identify areas where unnecessary inflow and infiltration are entering the sewer system. This excess water contributes to backups, overflows and higher treatment costs. Stafford Utilities staff and contractors will be using odorless, nontoxic smoke candles and high capacity blowers to force smoke through pipes. Anywhere the smoke exits, there is potential for rain or ground water to enter the sewer system. In some older neighborhoods, downspouts or drains may also be connected directly to the sewer system, further taxing the system during heavy rains.
“Smoke testing is one of the tools we use to ensure our service is being delivered in the most efficient way possible,” said Jason Towery, Director of Stafford Utilities. “Minimizing inflow and infiltration saves customers money, preserves the environment and reduces wear and tear on our infrastructure.”
What can you expect? First, residents in your neighborhood should receive a letter in advance of the smoke testing. Secondly, a door hanger will be placed 24 hours prior to testing on the doors of every building along the sewer lines where testing will be conducted. Prominent signs within the street will also indicate testing is underway. The majority of the testing will take place the week of March 12, 2018.
How can you prepare for this testing? Pour three cups of water in floor and sink drains. Doing so will reduce the risk of smoke entering the home through dry p-traps. If smoke enters your home during testing, you may need to contact a plumber to check for faulty plumbing. The smoke is completely non-toxic, odorless and harmless and does not create a fire hazard.
Stafford Utilities emphasizes this testing is specifically targeted to evaluating the infrastructure of Stafford Utilities. Please follow the link below to view an informative video about smoke testing. Questions? Call Utilities at (540) 658-8616.