Many people think that pipes are the most important component of plumbing. While it is true that water would not be able to reach the areas of your home that need it without pipes, there is another component that is just as important: the plumbing vent.
What A Plumbing Vent Does
A plumbing vent is tasked with regulating the air pressure in the plumbing system. Also known as a vent stack, it is responsible for removing gas and odors from the home and allowing fresh air into the plumbing system, which is necessary for the smooth flow of water through the drain pipes.
It is important to note that water does not run through the plumbing vent pipe. Instead, it channels exhaust gases to the vent and keeps the atmospheric pressure within the waste system at the right level for optimum flow. This vertical pipe is attached to a drain line and can be seen coming out of the roof of your home.
Why Plumbing Vents Are Important
The job of your home’s plumbing system is to deliver water and remove wastewater and waste efficiently, and the vent works in harmony with drainage to ensure the plumbing system operates safely and effectively.
Drainage pipes carry the wastewater out of your home to your septic tank or city sewer, while vent pipes provide plumbing fixtures with fresh air to help move the water throughout those pipes every time a sink is drained or a toilet is flushed.
In addition, plumbing air vents can stop sewer gases from making their way into the home by allowing wastewater gases and odors to escape. This is why they are located on the roof, where the fumes can easily dissipate without coming near windows. Vent pipes also let oxygen into waste pipes, which allows bacteria to break down sewage aerobically.
Vents and Traps
Each plumbing fixture in your home – whether it is a toilet, faucet or drain – has a trap. This is the loop or bend that you see in the pipe close to the fixture that traps a small amount of water to stop noxious gases from making their way into the home.
Vents keep air pressure on both sides of the trap at the same level, which keeps water within the trap. If the air pressure was not equal, water would be sucked out toward the part of the pipe with the lower air pressure, which could lead to a host of problems.
Problems With Plumbing Vent Pipes
Given their essential role in a home’s plumbing system, it is essential that plumbing vent pipes work properly at all times. Any problems with these vents can compromise the entire plumbing drainage system
Unfortunately, vents can become blocked relatively easily because they are exposed to outside elements. They may be blocked by leaves or other debris, and birds and rodents sometimes choose them as a location to build their nests. When vents become blocked, gases build up within the vent and eventually exert downward pressure on the entire plumbing system. This will cause the pipes to become so backed up with water and gases that nothing can move through them.
One telltale sign of a problem with the plumbing vent is gurgling sounds coming from the drains. In addition, a slow drain in a kitchen or bathroom or standing water in a bathtub or sink can be signs that the plumbing vent may be blocked. This causes negative pressure to build up in the drainage pipes and interrupt the flow of water.
Although it may be possible to clear the clogged drain yourself, these stoppages will be an ongoing problem until a blocked vent is properly cleared by professional plumbers.
It is important to keep in mind that ongoing stoppages and drains that are slow to flow can cause sediment to form within the drain pipes, leading to further damage in the plumbing system that could require expensive repair or replacement in the future.
Some blockages may be so severe that the plumbing vent or vent stack becomes fully blocked. This causes a vacuum to form, which means that a gurgling sound will not be apparent. However, those within the home may smell sewer gases in rooms that are affected.
How To Fix A Blocked Vent
Clearing vents on your own is dangerous because it requires going up on the roof. Moreover, removing obstructions in the vent can unleash harmful gases. Therefore, an experienced professional plumber should always be called to clear a blocked vent.
Reach Out To The Northern Virginia Residential Master Plumbers
Get in touch with our Northern Virginia residential plumbing experts at Baumbach Plumbing and Remodeling for help with all matters related to your home’s plumbing system and vent. We have been serving the area since 1928 and offer affordable routine and emergency master plumbing services.