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VIDEO: Arlington Heights Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing in Hasbrook Neighborhood

Fri August 25 2017 9:00 am
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Sewer Testing in Hasbrook neighborhood Arlington Heights 2017. Smoke coming out of a roof pipe or out of a manhole cover is usually a sign of normal operation. Smoke rising from the grass, far from any manhole could be a sign of problems.

The Village of Arlington Heights has awarded a contract to Burns & McDonnell to conduct inflow and infiltration testing of the sanitary sewers in several subdivisions within the Village. The Arlington Heights Sanitary Sewer Smoke Testing started Wednesday August 23, 2017. This testing is required by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) as an ongoing effort to minimize rain water flows into the sanitary sewer system. The Village has selected an investigative program using smoke testing of the sanitary sewer system to help identify any potential sources of storm water inflow and infiltration. Testing will be conducted in Michael Manor, Somerset, Arlington Vista, Hasbrook from August 23 through August 31, 2017. A map highlighting these locations is available on the Village’s website [PDF]. A reminder doorknob hanger will be distributed to you and your neighbors 24 to 48 hours in advance of testing in your subdivision. Orange informational signs will be posted at the local road entrances within 24 hours of smoke testing.

A few false alarms were reported to the fire department, which caused emergency responses this past week.


Smoke that enters inside homes or businesses can activate a smoke alarm, and if the smoke alarm is connected to a central alarm service, the fire department may be dispatched.

Smoke may activate alarms even when testing crews have moved down the street. They pressurize the underground pipes, and sometimes smoke enters a remote area, or an area that was previously tested (during a prior hour, for example).

Sometimes people become alarmed, and when they see smoke coming from a neighbor’s house or roof, they may call the fire department to report a fire — especially if they are unaware of the testing.

Smoke coming out of a roof pipe or out of a manhole cover is usually a sign of normal operation.

Smoke rising from the grass, far from any manhole could be a sign of problems.

Smoke rising from a downspout or gutters may be a sign of improper connection of gutter drainage to the sewer system.

The tests will assist the Village in locating any potential breaks and defects in the sewer system. During the test, you might see smoke coming from vent stacks on buildings and from holes in the ground. Do not be alarmed. The smoke is non-toxic, non-staining, does not create a fire hazard and will dissipate in a few minutes. You may see members of the crew working in the street or walking around or behind your residence during the test. If possible, please unlock any backyard gates and secure any dogs in the back yard. A video explaining the smoke testing procedure can be found at the following link (Burns McConnnell).

A few days before the smoke tests begin; please pour water down all drains in your home to ensure all traps are full. This maintenance should be performed in the basement area, utility or laundry rooms and spare bathrooms. If this is not done, smoke could enter your building through the drain. If smoke should enter your building during the test, it probably means that a trap is dry or that there are defects in the plumbing that could allow sewer gas to enter. If you are home, please note the location of the smoke and contact the Public Works Department at 847.368.5800. Residents should open doors and windows to ventilate any smoke that enters the building. Notify the crew working nearby of the smoke and they can assist you. The smoke has a mild mineral oil odor and should dissipate quickly.

You do not need to be home during the testing. If you leave any pets inside the house, the smoke is non-toxic and will not harm the pet. Again, be sure to pour water down any rarely used floor drains, especially in spare bathrooms. You can leave windows opened slightly to increase ventilation. As long as traps contain water, there is very little chance for smoke to enter your home. In rare cases, smoke can come through poor toilet seals but such smoke is generally very light. Once the crew is on your block, it should take less than 30 minutes to conclude the testing. The crews will be taking photographs of smoking sources that may include cleanouts ground smoke, downspouts, and area drains on your property. If you are not home and smoke enters through a dry trap, you may not even be aware that smoke was present when you return.

Please contact the Public Works Department before the tests begin if you have questions. If any of the situations below apply to you contact the Public Works Department.

A person who will be alone and is an invalid or will be sleeping during the test

Any individual with respiratory problems who will be in the building

Elderly persons who will be alone and might be alarmed or confused if they see smoke

The Public Works Department can be reached at 847.368.5800, Monday through Friday, 7:00AM through 4:00PM. We will not be able to give you an exact test time but will able to tell you if we will be in your area that morning or afternoon.

If you have any further questions, you can contact Allan Berkner at Burns & McDonnell by email [email protected] or by phone 630.398.9161 Monday through Friday 8:00AM through 4:00PM.

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