Smoke testing | Brisbane City Council

Smoke testing

Queensland Urban Utilities supported by Brisbane City Council will be performing smoke testing to identify stormwater connections that may be damaged or illegally connected to the sewerage system.

Suburbs for inspection

Not all properties in Brisbane will be tested. If your property is going to be tested, you will receive a letter at least 14 days before the testing is carried out.


Stormwater is the runoff from rain. It comes from roofs, roads, parks or land and should run into the drains built specifically for stormwater. These drains direct the stormwater to areas such as natural waterways while minimising the potential for flooding or damage to the environment.

When it rains, stormwater that enters the sewerage system can cause a sewage overflow because the volume is greater than the system is designed to handle. The overflow can cause environmental impacts and health issues. Stormwater in the sewerage system also adds to the costs of treating and pumping the waste water.

How we smoke test

Smoke testing is done by forcing non-toxic smoke into the sewer pipes which then flows into house drainage pipes. The smoke will exit the pipes where there are illegal connections or where the pipes are damaged.

The smoke is non-toxic and is not dangerous to children, pets or the environment.

The only time the smoke may enter your home is if you have damaged or illegal connections, or if you have a drain trap that is dry. You can make sure your drain traps are not dry before the testing by pouring approximately three cups of water into each floor drain and any drains that are not regularly used in your house.

If smoke enters your home through anything other than the drains, you should contact a private plumber to investigate the problem. If harmless smoke from the testing can enter your home, it may be possible for potentially harmful sewer gas to also get in.

If smoke does enter your home it won't cause damage to your possessions, or damage the health of the residents, and the smoke won't leave any odour in your curtains, soft furnishings or clothes.

Entering your property

Authorised Council officers can enter private property under the City of Brisbane Act 2010. An authorised Council officer will check to see if you are home when they come to inspect your property and they will only access the outside areas of your property.

All authorised Council officers will be carrying identification that you can ask to view.

Identifying issues

Property owners will be required to correct any illegal connection identified through the smoke testing. Council will contact the owners of any property where there may be a problem to discuss options and solutions.

More information

For more information about the smoke testing program you can phone Queensland Urban Utilities on 13 26 57.

31 March 2014