Sewer Smoke Testing

As part of maintaining its sanitary sewer system and to meet the requirements of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago's Watershed Management Ordinance, the Village will be completing smoke testing in 2019. This page overviews the project for 2019 and some information regarding smoke testing.

General Information

Tentative Completion DateJune 28, 2019
Project ManagerErik Jensen, Assistant to the Village Manager, 847-664-4129
ContractorRMS Utility Services

Project Description

This project will involve completing smoke testing on sanitary sewer mains located in three areas of the Village: (i) the area generally located west of I-294 (including the Villas North Subdivision), (ii) the Northbrook East Subdivision and (iii) the area generally bounded by Shermer Road to the west, Illinois Road to the south and Waukegan Road to the east. Crews will be evaluating the sewer mains and laterals through smoke testing, which is a process in which non-toxic, non-staining liquid smoke is pressurized through the sewer mains. This process helps identify defects within the sewer system, which the crews will note for future repair. 

Enabling Resolution

On Tuesday, April 9, the Village Board awarded this project to Horner & Shifrin, Inc. with RMS Utility Services as a subcontractor for this specific work (see Resolution 2019-26 for details). 

Project Notification Letters

The following notices have been issued for this project:

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Smoke Testing

What is smoke testing and why is the Village doing it?

Smoke testing is a type of sanitary sewer testing designed to help identify defects and points of potential cross connection (i.e. downspouts connected to sanitary sewers). During this testing, sewer mains are pressurized with non-toxic, non-staining smoke. Contractor crews will be surveying the area where testing is being completed and documenting any areas where smoke is found.

The Village is required to complete this testing as part of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's requirements for sewer systems that discharge into their system.

Who will be completing this testing?

The Village's contractor for this work is RMS Utility Services.

How will I be notified regarding when the testing begins?

Two to three days prior to the testing, RMS will place pink door tags in the area to be tested. This notice will include more information regarding testing and answer frequently asked questions. The day prior to testing, the Village will also issue a Northbrook Notify message to the area to be tested. To sign up for Northbrook Notify, please visit this link

What should I expect during testing?

During testing, you may see smoke rising out of sanitary sewer manholes, the vent stacks (chimneys) of buildings or the ground. Crews will be surveying the area where testing is being completed and documenting any areas where smoke is found. As part of this, crew members may need to temporarily enter your yard. All crew members will have identification badges and will be wearing company uniforms at all times. A Village staff member will also be present to help answer any questions and monitor work.

A video over-viewing smoke testing can be viewed at this link.

What does the smoke look like?

A video with examples that describes the process can be found at this link. Some examples can be found below:

Manhole Sewer Smoke Testing

Do I need to be home during testing?

No. However, there is a possibility that smoke may inadvertently enter your home through a dry sewer drain trap. To reduce the chance of this happening, please pour one (1) gallon of water down each of your drains, especially those drains in your basement, upon receipt of the pink door tag that will be placed on your door two to three days before the test on your street. This will help seal the drain traps so the smoke cannot enter. If you are concerned that the smoke in your home may not be related to the smoke testing, please do not hesitate to call the Fire Department at 9-1-1.

If you will not be home during the testing but someone will be who has a respiratory problem or might be alarmed or confused if they see smoke, please contact RMS at 888-655-4085 to notify them ahead of time. 

Project Contacts

For questions specifically regarding smoke testing, please contact RMS Utility Services at 888-655-4085. For any general questions regarding the project, please contact Erik Jensen, Assistant to the Village Manager, at 847-664-4129.

Project Updates

June 18, 2019

8:00 a.m. Update: Work will occurring in the the Salceda North and southern part of the Villas North subdivisions as scheduled. 

Staff currently anticipates that crews will be conducting work in the Sunny Acres Subdivision and along Forest View Drive on Wednesday, June 19, weather permitting. This will be confirmed via a Northbrook Notify call to these residents.

June 17, 2019

3:30 p.m. Update: The Village's contractor has successfully completed all testing in the Winchester Lane North, Four Winds, Ivy Club and northern part of the Villas North Subdivisions. The Village thanks local residents for their patience and cooperation. The contractor plans to begin testing on Tuesday, June 18 in the Salceda North and southern part of the Villas North subdivisions, weather permitting. This website will be updated as additional information becomes available.

7:30 a.m. Update: Work will begin today in the Winchester Lane North, Four Winds, Ivy Club and northern part of the Villas North Subdivisions. The contractor anticipates all work for these areas will be completed by the end of the day.

As of 7:30 a.m., crews anticipate they will conduct all necessary work in the Salceda North and the southern area of the Villas North Subdivisions on Tuesday, April 18. This website will be updated as additional information becomes available.

May 31, 2019

This work is tentatively scheduled to begin during the week of Monday, June 17, weather permitting. More details will be posted as they become available.