Town of Rhinebeck Smoke Testing Program

 The Town of Rhinebeck (Town) will be conducting smoke testing in the collection systems that serve the Vanderburgh Cove Wastewater Treatment Facilities on this Thursday August 14, 2014. Weston and Sampson, PE, LS, LA, PC is under contract with the Town to conduct this work.  Notices to Residents (see below) have already been distributed door to door to make them aware of the testing.   The following is an overview of the smoke testing process for your general information. 

Purpose of the Program


The purpose of the program is to locate places where storm water or other surface water is capable of entering the sewer collection system.  Once the sources are located, the Town can properly design corrective measures. By removing these flows the Town will avoid sewer overflows, which have a negative economic and environmental impact.

What will Happen


The investigation involves forcing smoke into the sewer collection system.  The smoke is non toxic, almost odorless, dissipates quickly, leaves no residue and is non-staining; it is not harmful to people, pets, plants, or furnishings. Two man work crews in work trucks will be opening manholes at various locations and placing a smoke generating machine over the manhole to force the smoke into the sewers.  The smoke will be forced through the sewer and any outlets connected to the sewer will vent the smoke; outlets are typically identified as roof stacks on buildings, catch basins, and sewer manhole covers. Other outlets for the smoke include gutters, catch basins, and cracks in the road or even landscaping.  Several photos of the typical smoke observations showing what resident may observe in the field are attached.  Please note that internal building plumbing is always designed with a water trap at all sinks, toilets, and shower drains; properly functioning traps will prevent smoke from entering the house.

Workers will be taking photographs of locations where smoke is coming from an unexpected source such as roof gutter leaders, storm drain catch basins and the like.  These indicate an inappropriate connection to the sewer from that source.  In some instances workers may enter upon private property (outside only) to take the photos and document the nature of the defect found.  Workers will only be entering upon lawns and walkways if necessary and will be taking every precaution so as not to cause any damage to landscaping or structures and will not enter any area that is protected by a gate or other such structure.  Workers do not need to enter any structure to perform their work.  However, if a resident has an issue and requests that they investigate smoke within the home they will make an effort to do so.  Each worker will have an ID badge stating that they are employees of Weston & Sampson, the subconsultant conducting the testing for the Town in your area.  In addition they will carry a letter from the Town indicating that they are in fact an authorized consultant to the Town.  They will produce these documents upon request.

Notices on bright yellow paper are being distributed door to door to each residence or commercial establishment 24 to 48 hours prior to smoke testing in any given area.  These notices include a special phone number they can call if they have questions concerns or problems related to the testing.


Weston & Sampson, PE, LS, LA, PC


During the week of August 11-15, the Town of Rhinebeck’s consulting Engineer, Weston & Sampson, will have inspection crews will be conducting a study of the sanitary sewer system in your area.  This study will involve the opening of manholes in the streets and easements.  An important task of the study will be the SMOKE TESTING of sewer lines to locate breaks and defects in the sewer system. DURING TESTING, YOU WILL SEE SMOKE COMING FROM THE VENT STACKS ON HOUSES.  The smoke that you may see is NON-TOXIC, NOT HARMFUL TO PETS, AND CREATES NO FIRE HAZARD.  The smoke has a slight odor and can be a mild irritant to people with reparatory problems. 

Under normal conditions, smoke will not enter your home.  POSSIBLE REASONS SMOKE MAY ENTER YOUR HOME INCLUDE:

  • Defective Plumbing
  • Seldom-Used (Dry) Drains, Typically in basements and bathrooms. 

To prevent smoke from entering your home, pour water into normally unused drains such as laundry tubs, showers or bathroom fixtures.  If smoke should enter your building, you should consult your licensed plumber, because if the smoke can enter through faulty plumbing, there is potential for sewer gases to enter your home as well. 

If smoke enters your home, you should ventilate the area and contact a member of the smoke testing crew working in the area.  They will be pleased to check with you as to where and why the smoke has entered your home. If you see smoke and are not certain of the source of observed smoke, you should contact your local first responders.   

Some sewer lines and manholes are located in easements through private property.  Whenever these lines are inspected, members of the inspection crews will be working in the easements.  However, homeowners do not need to be home and the workmen will not need to enter their homes.  The inspection crews will be photographing any defects detected.  We anticipate the smoke testing will require approximately 1 to 2 days in your area.  Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.  The information gained from this study will be used to improve your sewer services. 

Work area signs will be posted notifying passers-by that smoke testing is under way.   

If you have any questions that were not covered in this notice contact Joe Zongol, Project Representative at 978-587-4312.

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