Smoke Testing & Hydrant Flushing

Why are hydrants flushed?

Periodically, you will see Public Works personnel releasing water from hydrants. Hydrant flushing is necessary to test the hydrants to make sure adequate flow and pressure is available. Flushing is also done to remove sediment from the pipes in order to maintain water clarity and quality in the distribution pipes.

When are hydrants in my area flushed?

Hydrants are typically flushed in sections and on a monthly basis. Under normal operations sections are most times flushed the same month each year. In some instances the Fire Department may do additional testing outside of this schedule. There are also other situations such as, when repairs are made to a damaged line; which would require hydrants be flushed.

Is my water safe to drink after flushing?

Yes, your water is safe to drink. Occasionally, water becomes discolored after hydrant flushing. If this happens, run your cold water tap for a few minutes until the water clears. If it doesn't clear the first time, wait a few minutes and run the water again. You should avoid washing clothes until the water clears.

How can I found out when or if hydrants will be flushed in my area?

Information regarding hydrant flushing can be obtained by calling 252-469 4913, Monday to Friday from 7:30am – 4:00pm and after hours at 252-467-4800.

Common Water Quality Complaints

A large percentage of the complaints received fall into one of the following areas:

Rusty Water: As described in the previous section, fire hydrants are periodically opened to flush water mains in the system. Additionally, Fire and Public Works Department personnel routinely use hydrants to make assessments as to whether adequate pressure and flow are available to satisfy normal system demands as well as the increased demand required in the event of a fire. These actions, as well as some construction activities, may result in brief periods during which you may observe moderate discoloration in your tap water.

In addition to following the suggestions outlined previously, you should be aware that the City is constantly involved in line maintenance and repair; which often requires flushing hydrants when opening valves.

Cloudy/Milky Water: In the late fall and winter months the water that enters your homes can be quite cold. When this cold water enters your home plumbing, it is exposed to significantly warmer temperatures. This causes dissolved oxygen, that can reach and significantly higher levels in colder water than in warmer water, to escape in the form of “micro-bubbles” that can give water a cloudy appearance. If a glass of this water is allowed to sit for a short period of time the cloudy effect will dissipate.

White Particles in the Water: It has been determined that a number of hot water heaters manufactured between 1993 and 1997 may have defective cold water supply dip-tubes. These tubes are designed to direct the cold water entering the heaters to the bottom, thereby forcing the previously heated water to the hot water outlet near the top of the tank. The defective dip tubes have been found to separate from the cold water inlet and, over time, disintegrate into minute pieces resembling crumbled eggshells. This material can readily clog sink aerators and showerheads but is said to be non-toxic.