A few times this week, Carthage firefighters have responded to smoke in homes where the cause is NOT a fire.

A few times this week, Carthage firefighters have responded to smoke in homes where the cause is NOT a fire.
Carthage Water & Electric Plant workers are working with a private contractor to find places where storm water is leaching into the sewer system, and the method they're using involves pumping smoke into the sewer pipes.
This smoke could come into a home, but Tony White, with the contractor, TREKK, says that rarely means a major problem, and the smoke is not hazardous.
“We sent out notifications and placed door hangers on doors so everyone should have a notification on their front door that we're in the neighborhood,” White said. “The best thing they can do is call myself, my name is Tony White, my cell phone number is on there directly, or my office number that is on there as well. It's beneficial for me to intercept as many calls as I can, that way if I can help remedy the situation before they call fire or they call the police.”
White said smoke in the house during the testing period likely means a very minor problem — a dry drain trap, a cracked wax seal around the base of a toilet, or a loose pipe connection.
“There are very few instances where we have something that's a major concern where we have a broken pipe under someone's crawl space that's leaking raw sewage,” White said. “I've come across that very few times, it's usually something very minor that can be remedied by a damp towel or a rag over an open drain or even pouring water in to make sure a trap is filled.”
The testing has an important purpose. CW&EP wants to find places where rain water from storms or water from other sources are getting into the sewer system and seal those places as much as possible.
Treating all water at the waste water treatment plant costs money and the more clean rain or ground water the utility can keep from leaching into the sewer system, the more money it can save.
“The biggest thing is cost, you're treating clean water,” White said. “There are always inherent costs at the treatment plant where unnecessary water is being treated. If we can eliminate that source before it gets to the treatment plant, that's money that the city is saving up front.”
White said finding and sealing these problem spots can also help reduce the problem of sewer backups in homes and basements.
“If you are getting smoke in the house while we're in the neighborhood, and you do have issues with sewer backups or sewer odors on dry weather days or rainy days when we're not out here performing anything on the sewer system, that may be a cause of concern and it may lead to other issues,” White said. “So if you have sewer odor and you have backups, that is something you would like to address. Those aren't healthy, it's not something you want to be experiencing all the time, that's when I would tell people, hey, you might want to have a plumber come out and look at this, and maybe address the issues you might be experiencing.”
White said he and CW&EP workers are working their way north and then west through the city through Friday.
They are working between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
If you get a door-hanger telling you they are in your neighborhood and you experience smoke in your home, call White at 417-496-8689.