Smoke testing set in Sequim sewers into next week

Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — If you see smoke coming from manholes or building vents in the next week or so, don’t be alarmed. It’s only a test.

The Sequim public works department is testing sewers with simulated smoke to find defects, breaks, leaks and faulty connections.

The tests are being conducted now and will continue through Aug. 16 in sewers from Priest Road north of Washington Street to Fifth Avenue and from Blake Avenue at Carrie Blake Park down to West Sequim Bay Road and across the fields to the wastewater treatment plant.

Testing involves opening manholes and filling the sewer lines with non-toxic smoke, the city said.

Smoke sightings

During the tests, residents may see smoke coming from vent stacks on buildings or from holes in the ground such as manhole covers, storm drains and building foundations.

“The smoke has no odor, is nontoxic, non-staining, does not create a fire hazard and will dissipate in a few minutes,” according to a city statement. “There is no need for the testing crew to enter any homes or buildings.”

The simulated smoke is hydrotreated middle distillates. It may cause mild irritation to the skin, including redness and dryness, or eye irritation, according to information at

Pete Tjemsland, public works utilities manager, said the department has no reports of skin or eye irritation from use of the substance in the past.

Advance notice

Neighborhoods and individual properties will be notified in advance when smoke testing will take place in their specific areas, the city said.

Bright-pink door hangers will appear on residences, and green and blue A-frame board signs will be placed in neighborhoods with specific dates for testing in the area.

The city recommends that residents flush all toilets and run water down all sinks, tubs and laundry drains before the first day of the testing period to make sure all drain traps contain enough water to prevent smoke from entering the building through the drains.

Residents who see smoke in their buildings should open the doors and windows to ventilate the premises and to clear smoke.

“Simulated smoke will not stain walls or furniture, and it will not leave a residue,” the city statement said. “Simulated smoke is not harmful to your health but may cause some coughing.

“Smoke irritation is temporary and should disappear after exposure has ceased,” the statement said, recommending that unnecessary exposure to the smoke be avoided.

Contact plumber

Residents who see smoke in their buildings should consult a licensed plumber in the near future to identify the smoke access area, since the potential exists for sewer gases to enter the building in the same manner, the city said.

Anyone who sees smoke in their home who were not warned beforehand are advised to phone 9-1-1 dispatchers.

Clallam County Fire District No. 3 and emergency dispatching personnel, as well as city police, will be notified of the testing and will be updated throughout the period of testing locations.

Prior to testing, those who have people with respiratory problems or mobility limitations in their buildings are asked to notify the public works department by phoning 360-683-4908.

Questions also can be emailed to

Last modified: August 08. 2013 5:57PM
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