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  • Smoking in the sewer

    I saw some plumbers next to my home(I rent) lift a manhole lid and me being curious decide to take a look. While talking to them, one of the helpers walks up smoking a cigarette and his plumber freaked out. He said the helper could have blown us all up due to the methane gas rising from the sewer.

    Is there any truth to this?
    Buy cheap, buy twice.

  • #2
    Re: Smoking in the sewer

    Sewer gas is a complex mixture of toxic and non-toxic gases that can be present at varying levels depending upon the source. It is formed during the decay of household and industrial waste. Highly toxic components of sewer gas include hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.
    Sewer gas also contains methane, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxides. In addition, chlorine bleaches, industrial solvents, and gasoline are frequently present in municipal and privately owned-sewage treatment systems.

    So to answer your question. Yes it is
    The History of Sanitary Sewers Good site on the history of sanitary sewers and cleaners

    www.thedrainsquad.net Our website

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Smoking in the sewer

      I hope not as I do it all the time It`s a big maybe and a big one at that Just think about the sparks from our cutters going down a sewer

      I think you would have a better chance of blowing up from spontaneous combustion while you were walking down the street
      Last edited by All Clear Sewer; 02-11-2008, 10:56 PM.
      http://www.all-clear-sewer.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Smoking in the sewer

        Just go rent National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and you will see the answer to your question.

        Yes, Chevy Chase is a PLUMBING GOD!!!!!!!
        I'm on "The List" and I love it!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Smoking in the sewer

          Originally posted by All Clear Sewer View Post
          I hope not as I do it all the time It`s a big maybe and a big one at that Just think about the sparks from our cutters going down a sewer

          I think you would have a better chance of blowing up from spontaneous combustion while you were walking down the street

          I agree the chances are slim of lighting a cigarette near a manhole and having any chance of explosion. But im not willing to find that out either. I hope that if ANYONE enters a manhole, that they use proper gas detection equipment, and respirators.

          Doesnt matter if you cant smell it, that doesnt mean its not there. Even if its not Methane gas, there are plenty of other gases that i stated above that can be a health problem.

          Look at all the horror stories of 1 guy entering a manhole, then in seconds passes out, and soon after dies. Then next guy goes down to get him and the same thing happens to the 2nd guy, the 3rd guy goes down and yep you guessed it.

          Just because its outside on the street with all the air in the world, doesnt mean its safe in the manhole. I have had so much training in gases, confined space, proper SCBA, and i still fear going into manholes with blowers and gas detectors.
          The History of Sanitary Sewers Good site on the history of sanitary sewers and cleaners

          www.thedrainsquad.net Our website

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Smoking in the sewer

            Isn't that a famous rock song.....

            "Smokin' in the seeewww-errrrrr........."
            I'm on "The List" and I love it!!

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            • #7
              Re: Smoking in the sewer

              most methane based gasses will only ignite at a concentration of 4-14% gas to air mixture.

              i would hope that we are under those limits in a flowing sewer. not to mention the vents that exit the buildings and the little pick hole in the manhole

              now my buddy(not steve) did blow up an empty pvc water main in a new school when soldering an adapter onto freshly glued underground piping. this was a hugh disaster as the the entire main had to be replaced due to the concussion affect. the few known breaks were not the only ones they found.

              i know in mexico many years ago they demolished many blocks from an explosion in the sewers. problem was the sewer was full of gasoline to hide the fact that someone had tapped into the the gasoline line and tried to cover their tracts.

              a coworker of mine actually visited the site 1 year later and the roads were still buckled.

              so to answer your question, it's possible, just not feasible. if it were we would hear about it all the time, just like exploding water heaters

              rick.
              phoebe it is

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Smoking in the sewer

                Shouldn't be a problem.....normally, but safety guidelines are created for the abnormal. People dump all kinds of things into the sewer such as gasoline, solvents, etc. Do you want to be the guy who finds out the hard way?

                Chris Parrish
                Process Control Tech.
                City of Atlanta
                Department of Watershed Management


                Originally posted by gear junkie View Post
                I saw some plumbers next to my home(I rent) lift a manhole lid and me being curious decide to take a look. While talking to them, one of the helpers walks up smoking a cigarette and his plumber freaked out. He said the helper could have blown us all up due to the methane gas rising from the sewer.

                Is there any truth to this?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Smoking in the sewer

                  Originally posted by gear junkie View Post
                  I saw some plumbers next to my home(I rent) lift a manhole lid and me being curious decide to take a look. While talking to them, one of the helpers walks up smoking a cigarette and his plumber freaked out. He said the helper could have blown us all up due to the methane gas rising from the sewer.

                  Is there any truth to this?
                  I've been collecting video on things like this. If you'd like to see "Manhole Volcanos" the link is http://drainbiz.blogspot.com/2008/01...s-explode.html
                  Pete
                  Drain Biz
                  Articles, Videos, Industry News

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Smoking in the sewer

                    Originally posted by Pete M View Post
                    I've been collecting video on things like this. If you'd like to see "Manhole Volcanos" the link is http://drainbiz.blogspot.com/2008/01...s-explode.html

                    pete, the first 2 videos are from electrical vault fires and the last is the same stormwater overflow that was posted a few weeks ago.


                    is smoking around a sanatary manhole dangerous?

                    i would say there is a better chance getting hit by a car while standing in the middle of the street, than a manhole exploding because of smoking.

                    rick.

                    by the way pete, you're a flat rate developer, why no post on all the flat rate debates here
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Smoking in the sewer

                      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                      pete, the first 2 videos are from electrical vault fires and the last is the same stormwater overflow that was posted a few weeks ago.


                      is smoking around a sanatary manhole dangerous?

                      i would say there is a better chance getting hit by a car while standing in the middle of the street, than a manhole exploding because of smoking.

                      rick.

                      by the way pete, you're a flat rate developer, why no post on all the flat rate debates here
                      Hi Rick....

                      I guess my point is, sewers do catch fire. Sometimes it just takes a spark, sometimes just heat and other times from volitable chemical combinations.

                      Methane is only one of the flammable gases. Take a college student, a can of beans and a candle and watch them turn into human torches.

                      I would be very carful with any sparks when first-lifting a sanitary manhole cover. There could be expanded gases that want to rush out and equalize with the atmospheric pressure. In other words, the sewer could exhale when the lid is lifted. It's a confined space and deserves that respect.

                      Lots of guys use digging picks to lift manholes. During an OSHA class, the instructor told us of a guy that used a pick, created a spark and blew the sewer.

                      The odds of a fire may be slim, but you never really know what someone dumped in the pipe. You ARE taking a chance - perhaps slight, perhaps not.

                      As a company Safety Policy, I would say No Smoking and test the gases before lifting the lid.

                      RE: Flate Rate.... I jump in when I can. I think a lot of guys over-complicate it and get confused.
                      Pete
                      Drain Biz
                      Articles, Videos, Industry News

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Smoking in the sewer

                        Originally posted by Pete M View Post
                        Hi Rick....

                        I guess my point is, sewers do catch fire. Sometimes it just takes a spark, sometimes just heat and other times from volitable chemical combinations.

                        Methane is only one of the flammable gases. Take a college student, a can of beans and a candle and watch them turn into human torches.

                        I would be very carful with any sparks when first-lifting a sanitary manhole cover. There could be expanded gases that want to rush out and equalize with the atmospheric pressure. In other words, the sewer could exhale when the lid is lifted. It's a confined space and deserves that respect.

                        Lots of guys use digging picks to lift manholes. During an OSHA class, the instructor told us of a guy that used a pick, created a spark and blew the sewer.

                        The odds of a fire may be slim, but you never really know what someone dumped in the pipe. You ARE taking a chance - perhaps slight, perhaps not.

                        As a company Safety Policy, I would say No Smoking and test the gases before lifting the lid.

                        RE: Flate Rate.... I jump in when I can. I think a lot of guys over-complicate it and get confused.
                        talk about a spin job.

                        with 13 total post, i haven't seen any real post with any useful info.

                        all i really see is a way for you to promote your site of yourself and the real reason why your here.

                        pete if you're the expert, please use your expertise and uncomplicate this so confusing matter. or does that cost $500.00 to hear your answer.

                        i've yet to read a real post on your behalf. please prove me wrong.

                        rick.

                        ps. if i wrote flat rate books, i would learn how to spell flat
                        phoebe it is

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Smoking in the sewer

                          Just my two cents but here goes. Working in utility manholes which are supposed to be sealed systems I ran into all sorts of unique situations. Our routine was to open the outer and inner pans and vent the hole for a minimum of twenty minutes prior to testing with an explosimeter. Without boring you guys, I've experienced "dead air", raw sewerage, and enough gasoline to fill a small tanker truck! Gasoline was from a nearby gas station, the tanks leaked and leached into our system. Splicers pumped the manhole into the street and nearby city sewer where the Fire Dept responded and immediately prepared for a possible explosion. Telephone company was fined, gas station was fined and manhole was finally pumped into a tank truck and cleaned by hazmat team. Bottom line even though it is extremly rare using caution is always a good idea because you can never tell what folks will flush into your work environment or what will leak into it. Hypodermic syringes were a common item under the covers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Smoking in the sewer

                            Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                            talk about a spin job.

                            with 13 total post, i haven't seen any real post with any useful info.

                            all i really see is a way for you to promote your site of yourself and the real reason why your here.

                            pete if you're the expert, please use your expertise and uncomplicate this so confusing matter. or does that cost $500.00 to hear your answer.

                            i've yet to read a real post on your behalf. please prove me wrong.

                            rick.

                            ps. if i wrote flat rate books, i would learn how to spell flat

                            Rick,

                            What's so confusing? The original question was some thing like, "Is smoking near a sewer dangerous?" I've answered that- YES. You don't have to agree.

                            You keep saying I'm a flat rate developer. I have never said that. I create price book enhancers. cover sheets, inserts, etc.

                            Now you question my motivations and throw in personal attacks.

                            Congratulations on your recent license. I worked in LA for over 15 years and acquired 3 licenses, Plumbing Contractor (C-36), General Contractor (B-1) and as a Sewer Contractor. They may be expired now, but I have no plans to go back to California and the licenses won't transfer. But you can check the CSLB website if you wish. Lic # 481811

                            When the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit, I was right in the middle of it as the lead plumber for a 40-truck operation replacing tons of broken sewers. I don't even know how many sewers I replaced or how many streets I dug up. At the same time I was meeting with companies like Spartan, Sreco, Micro-engineering and others giving input and performing some testing on new proto-type cameras.

                            From there I began writing and lecturing about what I had learned during the earthquake and was asked to speak at the Environmental Expo about my experiences and the new technologies - cameras, locators, jetters, trenchless, smoke-testing, etc.

                            I was honored to be the featured speaker at that show in Nashville for 3 straight years and at the Los Angeles Convention Center. No hands-on guy from our business had ever done that before.

                            I stood up in front of thousands of seasoned contractors from around the world and had to demonstrate what I brought to the table.

                            After that, I trained hundreds of people in the industry - techs, and owners.

                            That's what I've contributed to my industry, Rick. I have worked hard to help my brothers in the field.

                            And now you want to question my background and motivation? Sorry Rick, I have nothing to prove.

                            Rick, for me, helping others isn't about knowing parts, quoting obscure facts or talking about which cutters to use. It's about helping struggling shops win in the field. That's where the rubber hits the road- and where it means something.
                            Last edited by Pete M; 02-14-2008, 01:37 PM.
                            Pete
                            Drain Biz
                            Articles, Videos, Industry News

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Smoking in the sewer

                              Pete, welcome to the forum...please don't be deterred by territorial adversity, there are a ton of fantastic members here.
                              There are also numerous members here that would benefit from your experience and background...I for one.
                              Your mention of the potential hazards of sewer gasses is true, methane or otherwise, the hazard is there.

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