Smoke Testing


Over the next few weeks, the City of Cold Lake has hired SFE Global to perform smoke testing of the sewer systems within your neighborhood. 


We ask that if you have floor drains in the basement floor of your home or business that you pour three (3) or four (4) cups of water into them to seal off the trap.  If you have floor drains, it is a good idea to do this periodically to make sure sewer gases cannot get inside your home.

By introducing a non-toxic smoke into the sewers, crews can identify areas of leaks or cross-connections where rainwater or other surface drainage may enter the sanitary sewer system.  By eliminating these sources of unnecessary inflow into the system, sanitary sewer overflows can be eliminated reducing the impact to the environment, all while saving significant costs in sewer operations and maintenance.

During the brief test procedure, you may expect to see small volumes of test smoke coming from neighboring roof vents or system manholes, etc.  The smoke should not enter your home or place of business.  If it does, it is more than likely coming from a lower floor drain that is connected to your building sewer system. 

Although the smoke used in the testing is harmless, if during the test, smoke does enter your home or business please contact Nick with SFE Global at 204-654-2713 Ext. 1 and he will connect you with the outside field crews working in your area. They will help you find the leak and help prevent further incidence of smoke entering the building. 

Further tests may be required to confirm cross connections.  This is typically in the form of a dye test.  Crews may knock on your door and ask that you flush dye tablets down one of your toilets in order to determine that wastewater is being directed down the appropriate pipes.

If you have any questions regarding the testing you are welcome to contact Rezaur Bhuiyan or Colin Thibeau at 780-594-4494 Ext 7975 or 780-594-4494 Ext 7934, respectively. Thank you for your cooperation.

Azam Khan

General Manager – Infrastructure Services

City of Cold Lake



What is the purpose of smoke testing?

The main purpose of smoke testing is to locate areas where storm and/or groundwater water may be entering the sanitary system. Excess water entering the sanitary sewer system can increase the risk of sewer backups and drive up wastewater treatment costs.

How will I know when the testing is scheduled to occur?

Smoke testing will occur in various locations in the City over the next two weeks (starting Aug 14 2017, weather dependent). Once available, a map will be posted on the City website:

Is the smoke harmful?

No. The "smoke" is not true smoke, but rather a mist containing a large percentage of atmospheric moisture that is highly visible at low concentrations. It will not harm your health or leave a stain and will disappear rapidly without leaving an odor.

What should I do if smoke gets into the house?

Contact a field crew member working in the area, or call Nick from SFE Global directly at 204-654-2713 Ext. 1 Open windows for ventilation. The smoke will soon dissipate.

How long will the testing take?

While crews might be in your area for a few hours, each actual smoke test setup takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Most houses will only be within the testing area for one or two tests.

Do I need to be home during testing?

No. Inspection crews will not need to enter your home unless smoke is present and you want them to help identify the defect. You are not required to allow entry to the crews.

I am a pet owner and I will not be home during testing. Should I be concerned?

The smoke is not harmful to pets. It would be a good idea to leave some windows partially open for ventilation, should any smoke enter the building.

How will I know if smoke enters my house if I am not home during testing?

The purpose of the smoke test is to identify sources of unauthorized water entering the public portion of the sewer system. While it is also beneficial to note deficient plumbing connections on private property, this is not the main intent of the smoke test. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain private plumbing connections.

Will the smoke tests activate my smoke alarms?

It is possible for smoke alarms may be activated during smoke testing. It is a good idea to open windows and/or doors for ventilation.

Monday, August 7, 2017