2021 Manhole Inspection & Sewer Smoke Testing

The City is testing its sanitary sewer system to identify faulty lines or connections where water runoff from rain or snow melts may enter the system or where sewer gases may escape. The testing is required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and includes two phases: Manhole Inspection and Smoke Testing. The testing will take place on the west side of the City. A map of the area to be tested is attached. All affected residences and businesses have been notified.

Duke's Root Control has a Call Center to handle resident issues at 888-655-4085; if you have any questions or are impacted by either Phase, please call the Call Center. 

Sanitary Sewer Testing Information and Schedule

Phase I - Manhole Inspections – September 20, 2021 to September 24, 2021

Manholes are inspected with 360-degree imaging. There will be no interruption to sanitary sewer service during the test. Residents may notice the contractor’s vans parked outside and workers lowering imaging equipment into manholes. Dukes Root Control of Crystal Lake, Ill., is the City’s contractor for this project. Some of the city-owned manholes are in the backyards; crews will be entering yards to complete these inspections.

In addition to access to the property, Dukes may also request the temporary use of your driveway, as it may aid in the optimal positioning of their camera truck. The televising process should last less than 30 minutes per manhole. Affected residents and businesses received a letter in the mail. (please see link)

This video illustrates the Dukes Manhole Inspection process:   https://youtu.be/97zEXr9J7dU

Phase II - Smoke Testing – September 27, 2021 to October 1, 2021

The City has contracted with Engineering Enterprises, Inc., of Sugar Grove, Ill., and Dukes Root Control of Crystal Lake, Ill., to perform the smoke testing.

Smoke testing pushes air combined with liquid smoke into sewer lines to disclose the location of leaks and faulty connections to the sanitary sewer system. The smoke is non-toxic, and safe for humans and pets. It is similar to the special effects smoke used in concerts and haunted houses. During the test, smoke may be seen coming from vent stacks on the roof and out of the ground.

Smoke will not enter homes or buildings unless the plumbing is defective or drain traps are dry. The smoke has no odor, is non-toxic, non-staining, does not create a fire hazard, and will dissipate in a few minutes. Pouring water into any floor drains and into any unused sinks prior to the test will seal the drain traps so smoke will not enter through the drains.

If you live in an area that will be impacted by smoke testing, you can expect to receive a notification letter in the mail a few weeks prior to testing (see link).  Additional notification will be provided by door hanger cards 24 - 72 hours before the smoke testing is to start in your area. Smoke testing signs will be posted at highly visible intersections when the crews are conducting testing.

We appreciate everyone’s cooperation during the sanitary sewer assessment process. While we have notified businesses and residents in the neighborhoods to be tested, we ask residents to help us get the word out, especially to elderly neighbors. We want to be sure people are aware of the testing so they are not alarmed by the smoke.

Why Test the Sanitary Sewer Lines for Faults?

Reduce Inconvenient Sanitary Sewer Backups - When a significant amount of ground water flows into the sanitary sewer system through faulty lines, it can overwhelm system capacity and cause sanitary sewer backups.

Eliminate Unnecessary Wastewater Treatment - All water in sanitary sewer lines is treated at the City’s wastewater plant. Significant amounts of groundwater flowing into the sanitary sewer mains can lead to millions of gallons of water being treated unnecessarily.

Identify Location of Sanitary Sewer Gas Leaks – Faulty sanitary sewer mains or connections could allow sewer gases to escape.

If you have any questions regarding the manhole inspections or smoke testing, call St. Charles Public Works Department at 630.377.4405.

Additional information on smoke testing from Dukes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XepjMRgiXYM





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