Orange County Smoke Testing

Orange County Utilities performs regular maintenance and inspections on over 2,000 miles of wastewater pipes throughout 636 square miles of service area. One method to locate breaks, cracks, or improper connections in the sewage system is through scheduled smoke testing.

During this process, crews use small blowers over manholes to push non-toxic smoke through sewer pipes. Smoke that escapes through the ground or cracks in the street might indicate defects in the sewer system. It is normal to see smoke rise out of your rooftop sewer vent and nearby manholes.

Residents in the testing area will be notified in advance with a postcard and door hanger. Although smoke should not enter homes, prior to testing residents should pour 2-3 gallons of water into sinks, tubs, and floor drains that are not often used. Seldom-used toilets should also be flushed as smoke could arise due to dry plumbing traps.

Will anyone need to enter my home?

Nobody will need to enter your home. Work crews will be conducting smoke testing at the manholes located in the street.

Will I need to be home during the smoke testing?

You are not required to be home. However, it can be advantageous to stay home during this free service to evaluate whether any sewer leaks exist inside of your home.

Will smoke enter my home during testing?

It is unlikely. During testing, smoke should not enter your home. However, if it does, the smoke will come from a plumbing fixture (toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, etc.). This means you could have a plumbing problem. Seldom-used sinks and floor drains could also cause smoke to arise due to dry plumbing traps.

Is the smoke testing safe for people, pets, and plants?

Yes. This technique has been safely used in many communities for years. The smoke is non-toxic, non-staining, and odorless. It poses no harm to people, pets, or house plants and dissipates within minutes.

What if I have a respiratory condition, use an oxygen tank, or have other health concerns?

We can help you take special precautions and notify you when smoke testing will take place in your neighborhood. This will give you time to leave the house if you choose while smoke testing is being done.

Please send your name, address, and phone number to the Field Services Support Center:

What should I do if a flag appears in my yard after smoke testing?

A flag means a leak was detected on your property. The county will mail you a letter with more information about the defect, where it is located, and what actions you might be required to take.

Who pays if defects are found?

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to fix defects found on private property. Repairs made by the county will only occur in the public right-of-way and utility easements.

Cross-section of a smoke machine on a residential street blowing smoke through sewer lines to detect cracks

*It is normal to see smoke rise from your home’s rooftop sewer vent.
**Smoke rising from the street or lawn indicates cracks in the sewer pipe.


Field Services Division
8100 Presidents Drive
Orlando, FL 32809


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