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Smoke Testing

Smoke testing consists of forcing a non-toxic coloured vapour into the sanitary sewers in your neighbourhood.

2017 Smoke Testing Areas


Smoke testing is taking place Sept. 19 to mid-October 2017 in the following areas:

Glendale Avenue to St. David's Road, between Glenridge Avenue and Highway 406.

Work Sector 49

Twelve Mile Creek to Glenridge Avenue, between the CN rail line and Lockhart Drive.

Work sector 48

Why Does the City Smoke Test?

Smoke testing is a cost-effective and relatively quick method of identifying possible issues within the sewer system.  The results of smoke testing are used to pinpoint areas of the sewer system which may require further investigation or immediate repairs.  Smoke testing helps to locate leaking manholes, structural issues such as cracks, improper sewer connections and private-side sources of inflow and infiltration such as connected downspouts.

What Is Required of Residents

To avoid smoke entering your building, run water into all drains for one to five minutes, especially ones that are infrequently used, such as unused rough-ins in your basements.

It is not necessary for you to be home during the smoke test, as the primary concern is testing for external deficiencies in sewer systems.

Health and Safety

  • The smoke leaves no residuals or stains on clothing, draperies or furniture
  • The smoke has no known effects on plants and animals.
  • If you come in contact with the smoke, it is not harmful to your health. The smoke will dissipate in a few minutes.

What Happens If Smoke Enters My Home?

Don't be concerned if you see smoke coming out from your rooftop vents - this is normal.

Smoke should not enter your building, unless:

  • You have defective, damaged or improper plumbing including traps, tubs, showers, pipes and connections; or
  • Infrequently used drains have dried out over time and/or you have uncapped rough-ins.

Smoke inside your house indicates that harmful gases from the sewers may have been entering your house without your knowledge. We can offer the following suggestions if you do have smoke enter your home at the time of smoke testing.

Firstly, was water poured down all of the drains in your building prior to smoke testing (anytime in the last 2 months)?

  • If no, then your p-trap may have been dry which would have allowed smoke to enter the building.  Pour a pitcher of water once a season into the floor drains to keep water in them to prevent any potential gases from entering the building.  After the water has been added, you should be able to see it sitting in the drain.  If you can see it in the drain then you should have no worries going forward.  If you can not see the water sitting in the drain you may need to have a plumber come and investigate.
  • If yes, and you did add water but still had smoke enter your home during smoke testing, then you may need to have a plumber come and investigate.

Locating and correcting the source of smoke entering your building is strongly recommended.

If you see or smell smoke in your building report it to the personnel in your neighbourhood conducting the smoke test or email Citizens First or call 905.688.5600.



Copyright © 2014 The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines