BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The St. George Fire Department is getting calls several times a week about “thick white smoke” coming from toilets, sinks, and bathrooms.
Several concerning calls are coming from Hillyard Ave and Ridgely Drive in the Inniswold neighborhood off of Bluebonnet. Residents called three times in just two days, about white smoke in their homes.
“It is strange if you have smoke coming out of your bathtub, toilet, or sink,” said the Fire Chief of the St. George Fire Department, Gerard C. Tarleton.
According to Chief Administrator of the Mayor’s Office, Mark Armstrong says the Baton Rouge Sewage System workers were performing a common maintenance procedure called a “smoke test.”
“What that involves is pumping smoke into the sewage system to look for any leaks and the system will start popping up from out of the ground,” Armstrong explains.
Sewage workers pump smoke into sewage pipes, to spot leaks or breaks in the lines. The city parish maintains a policy to notify residents with a “door hanger” of upcoming smoke tests.
When it comes to smoke tests, Armstrong says that these are a ‘routine.’ He adds that every single year, they try to smoke test about 8% to 10% of the sewage system.
If residents do have smoke entering their homes from a smoke test, that could potentially mean a problem needs to be addressed.
Sinks and bathtubs include a ‘P-trap’, a goose shape pipe, designed to hold water preventing air from the sewer system from causing the smoke. So, if you see the smoke coming from either one there is a potential problem. Smoke tests are more commonly seen coming out of people’s roofs, the smoke rising due to proper ventilation lines.
Another way to tell if there’s a problem with your pipes is a noticeable sewage smell. The water in a p-trap bath or sink can evaporate over time. For instance, a guest bathroom is not being used frequently, which can cause a sewage smell, and a smoke test detects a problem in those two areas.
“If you do end up getting smoke in your home as a result of this, it’s non-hazardous, it shouldn’t be doing any damage it can be ventilated,” added Armstrong.