Harrisonburg to test sewer system for breaks and leaks, residents may see smoke
Environment, Local

Harrisonburg to test sewer system for breaks and leaks, residents may see smoke

Crystal Graham
smoke rising from manhole
(© KseniaJoyg – stock.adobe.com)

The City of Harrisonburg’s public utilities department is conducting its annual testing of the sanitary sewer system starting this week and running through November.

The effort involves release of a non-toxic and non-staining test smoke into area manholes which will travel through the sanitary sewer system.

The purpose of this testing is to detect any breaks or leaks in the city’s system and make appropriate repairs.

During this time, residents may notice smoke rising from manhole covers, yards where systems run or even from their bathtubs, toilets or sinks.

This year’s testing will take place in the following areas:

Amherst Court Howard Lane Queen Anne Court
Augusta Circle James Place Rex Road
Bartlett Court Kingston Court Rockbridge Circle
Canterbury Court Laurel Street Russell Drive
Cedar Street Logan Lane Sharon Lane
Central Avenue Lynne Place Sharpes Drive
Chestnut Drive Main Street (South) South Avenue
Colonial Drive Maplewood Court Southampton Court
Dale Circle Middlebrook Street Starlight Court
Dogwood Drive (South) Millwood Loop Suncrest Court
Easthampton Court Moonview Court Toppin Blvd
Elmwood Drive Mosby Court Vale Circle
Emery Street Mosby Road (West) Wakefield Court
Erickson Avenue New York Avenue Walker Street
Heatwole Road Northampton Court Weaver Street (West)
Hidden Creek Lane Pear Street West Avenue
High Street South Perry Street Westhampton Court
Hillandale Avenue Pleasant Hill Road Wyndam Woods Drive
Hope Street    

These businesses and organizations will also see smoke testing in their area:

  • Wal-Mart, 2160 John Wayland Hwy.
  • Thomas Harrison Middle School, 1311 W. Market St.
  • Sentara Healthcare, 1661 S Main St.
  • Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board (Summit House), 1888 Pear St.
  • Mosby Heights Housing Authority, 2510 Mosby Court

The city has a total of 190 miles of sewer lines and a section of those lines are tested each year.

Some smoke will be seen being released from rooftop plumbing vents, which is an indication of a properly installed plumbing system.

Tips for residents

  • Pour one gallon of water into the drain traps of floors, sinks, showers and tubs, which will prevent sewer gases or smoke from entering a home or business.
  • If the non-toxic smoke enters a residence or business, this is a sign of a defect in the plumbing. When this occurs, there is no need to contact emergency services. Open a window or door for ventilation, note the location of the smoke and contact a qualified plumber.
  • Anyone with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions should not stay in a building where smoke has entered as a precautionary measure.

Anyone with questions may contact the Public Utilities Department at (540) 434-9959.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.