If you live in the northwest part of Newton and you see some smoke coming out of plumbing vent pipes or manhole covers, don't panic -- it's likely just a test.
Starting this week, the city will be conducting smoke tests on parts of the sewer system in the northwest section of Newton, according to the city website. The tests will be ongoing, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., until September 28.
The tests will help the city improve its sanitary sewer system by indicating where connections are working, and where stormwater may be leaking into the system.
During the tests, workers from Weston & Sampson pump white smoke into the sewer systems and, as a result, smoke may vent from manhole covers in the street or plumbing vents near the roof of a home.
On Tuesday, a number of scanner reports indicated that the Fire Department was responding to the northwest section of the city for reports of smoke -- only to find the smoke was caused by the sewer testing.
A YouTube video showing smoke testing is included in the media section above.
The smoke is non-toxic and does not stain, but any smoke inside a building should be reported immediately to the DPW Utilities Division at 617-796-1640, (Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.), or the Weston & Sampson Smoke Testing Hotline at 978-977-0110 ext. 2009.
More information from the city is included below:
In order to improve sanitary sewer service, on behalf of the City of Newton, Weston & Sampson will be conducting smoke testing on portions of the sanitary sewer system from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, between July 30, 2012 to September 28, 2012, weather permitting. Testing will be performed in the northwest section of the city. The area is generally located in the area bound by Waltham to the north, Wellesley to the west, Beacon Street to the south, and Walnut Street to the east.
During the test, white smoke will be introduced to the sanitary sewer systems via a smoke-generating machine. During this procedure, white smoke will be venting from holes in manhole covers located in the street and from plumbing vent pipes located on or near your roof surface. THIS IS NORMAL AND SHOULD NOT CAUSE ALARM.
Smoke should not enter your premises unless there is either a dry trap in an unused fixture or a plumbing defect. You may wish to pour two gallons of water down your basement floor drain or unused plumbing fixture to ensure that the drain trap will be effective.
Should smoke be detected within your building, do not be alarmed. The smoke is NON-TOXIC, NON-STAINING, and dissipates quickly through open windows. IF YOU HAVE A LUNG AILMENT or RESPIRATORY CONDITION SUCH AS ASTHMA OR EMPHYSEMA, STAY AWAY FROM THE SMOKE. Any smoke within a building should be immediately reported to the persons conducting the tests (see information below).
Weston & Sampson Engineers, Inc. company vehicles are black with the company name on the sides and their personnel will be wearing blue shirts with the Weston & Sampson markings and a current Weston & Sampson ID card. Notices will be handed out to residences and businesses a few days before smoke testing starts in a particular neighborhood. A second notice will be handed out letting you know that the smoke testing has been completed in your area.
If you have any questions, you can call the DPW Utilities Division at 617-796-1640, Monday through Friday from 7:00AM to 3:00PM, or the Weston & Sampson Smoke Testing Hotline at (978) 977-0110 ext. 2009.