City of Memphis smoke testing sewer system

City of Memphis smoke testing sewer system
Published: Jun. 17, 2015 at 3:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2015 at 2:31 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A flyer on your doorstep is a not-so-early warning sign that the City of Memphis will be testing sewers in your area.

"I'm not sure what the effects or consequences would be of the smoke," said Vollintine-Evergreen resident Torian Whitlow.

Residents like Whitlow were surprised when they saw a sewer notice announcing that smoke-testing crews would be in their area soon.

"I understand they use smoke to see leaks and things like that, but what exactly is this?" Whitlow asked. "Is there a dye agent in it? Is it a carcinogenic?"

City Environmental Instructor Bobby Allen says Hurco's LiquiSmoke is not carcinogenic.

"If it gets in your home, you're breathing it, your pet is breathing it," Allen explained. "It's not going to be harmful to you. It will not stain your furniture."

He says the Federal Environmental Protection Agency requires the 10-year testing program.

"To assess the entire sanitary system as necessary and repair it," Allen said.

Crews finished testing or are currently testing sewers in Downtown, Midtown, and the Medical District. The next phase begins in August in Frayser.

While crews are testing, if you see smoke come out of the roof vents on your house, all is well.

"If you have a break in your pipe, you'll see smoke coming up through the ground," Allen explained. "Or if you have a missing clean-out ca, smoke will come out of the pipe."

If it comes out of your bathtub or sink, you either have a leak or your pipes are just dry.

To prevent smoke from coming inside your home, pour a glass of water into sinks or tubs you don't use regularly once you get your notice. One pour will last a month.

Call a plumber if you've filled your tub or sink and still see smoke.

As the city checks pipes, they say they're finding one main problem-- people are pouring grease down the drain.

"It may be hot when you pour it in as a liquid, but as it's going into the pipes, it gets cold and solidifies and will actually settle as hard as a rock," said Allen.

Be sure to put cooking grease in a can and put it in the trash once it's cool.

As for Whitlow, he's convinced his area of town is OK.

"I've been around here a long time and there hasn't really been anything wrong with the sewer system," said Whitlow.

Call (901) 452-2385 if you have more questions.

To learn what's inside Hurco's LiquiSmoke, click here.

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