CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Smoke was seen billowing from the streets in Huntersville Wednesday, causing concern for some neighbors. Some might have mistaken the smoke for some kind of underground uprising, but fear not, it’s just Charlotte Water.

While it looks scary, it’s a process that’s actually designed to save a lot of possible headaches in the future.

On Wednesday, the smoking happened in a small pocket of streets off Old Statesville Avenue. What workers were doing was pumping non-toxic smoke into wastewater manholes with a blowing machine. Those plumes of smoke filled the pipes and gave inspectors a pinpoint location of trouble spots.

“This means we blow smoke in the pipes and wherever the smoke escapes it could be a crack in the pipe,” Charlotte Water spokesman Cam Cooley said.

The tests are performed by inspectors looking for cracks in the sewer system that, if gone untreated, could lead to pretty big backups.

“This helps us find any pipes that may need to be replaced or other types of repairs done so that we can reduce the amount of rainwater that gets in,” Cooley said. “Which helps us keep up with our capacity at waste water plants.”

The smoke tests will continue in the Charlotte area, with the next phase heading south down Brookshire Boulevard–just some of the over 4,000 miles of wastewater pipeline that keeps the Queen City clean.

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For a little perspective on what 4,000 miles looks like, if you put every sewer pipe in Charlotte end to end, it could stretch all the way to Alaska.

So as for the continued smoke tests Charlotte Water says there is a possibility for smoke to enter your house if they are in your area, but Cooley has a tip to keep that from happening.

“It could certainly be a concern if someone saw it coming in their house all of a sudden, which is why we encourage people to pour roughly a gallon of water in any floor drain–could be in their basement, any bathrooms they don’t use often–just so we have water in those traps inside the plumbing.”