Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing

Starting October 3, 2022, the Village of Burr Ridge will examine its sanitary sewers using smoke testing procedures. Work will be done on weekdays between 7 AM and 4 PM, in dry weather. The testing should conclude by November 4, 2022. 

Please click here for a location map of affected areas. Residents in the affected areas should also have received a door hanger and the following public notice.

Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of smoke testing?
Smoke testing helps to find sources of inflow and infiltration in the sanitary sewer system, which mix with sewage in the small underground pipes.  Smoke testing can also help locate:
  • Points of groundwater or surface water intrusion into the sanitary sewers
  • Cross connections between sanitary and storm sewers
  • Buildings that connected their downspouts or sump pumps to the sanitary sewer
What happens during smoke testing?

Prior to the test, the Village will notify fire and police department where we will be conducting sewer system smoke testing. During smoke testing, field crews blow air and smoke into the sanitary sewer system and monitor where smoke escapes the system. If smoke permeates up through a yard, it indicates a break in the sewer line.

What should I do to prepare for smoke testing?
When you receive a special notice that smoke testing will take place, you should:
  • Pour approximately two gallons of water into all floor drains
  • Run water for 30 seconds in unused sinks, tubs, and showers
  • If there is an individual in your home or business who has respiratory problems and/or mobility limitations, contact the testing firm at 630-272-5461 prior to testing.
Is the smoke harmful?
No, the smoke is manufactured specifically for this use and presents no health risks to people, pets, or plants.  The "smoke" is not true smoke, but rather a mist containing a large percentage of atmospheric moisture that is highly visible at low concentrations.  It will not harm your health or leave a stain, and will disappear rapidly without leaving an odor.
Where would the smoke appear?

Smoke is normally seen coming from roof vent stacks (pipes atop your roof) and nearby manhole covers, which indicates that smoke has correctly filled the sewer pipe.  Smoke seen in grassy areas, building foundations, or roof gutters is not normal and will be further inspected.

Can smoke enter my house?
Plumbing fixtures within your home all drain into the sanitary sewer system, so there is a potential for this smoke to enter your house if these drains are not connected properly.  This may happen particularly under the following circumstances:
  • Vents stacks for your building’s drain pipes are inadequate or defective.
  • Drain traps under sinks, tubs, basins, showers and other drains are dry, defective or improperly installed
  • The pipes, connections or seals in the wastewater drain system in and/or under your building are damaged, defective, have plugs missing or are improperly installed.
How long will the testing take?

Crews may be in your neighborhood for several hours, but the actual smoke test for your street normally takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

Do I have to be home during testing?

No. Inspection crews will not need to enter your home during testing.  They can follow up with you later if you believe smoke entered your home during the test that day.

My pet will be in the house during the testing.  Should I be concerned?

This smoke, in the unlikely event it enters your home, is not harmful to pets or plants.  

How will I know when testing will occur on my street?

Door hangers will be distributed at each residence in the area approximately one day prior to testing.  The test date is subject to change based upon weather conditions.  Signs will also be posted on several street corners in the neighborhood.