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Why Do I Need Plumbing Vents?

We all know what a chimney looks like, but have you ever wondered what some of those smaller pipes coming out of your roof do? More than likely, it’s a plumbing vent.

While seemingly unsightly or unimportant, these vents are vital to your house’s plumbing system. In fact, without these vents, your house would be a wet, stinky mess.

How do plumbing vents work?

Plumbing vents work by neutralizing the pressure in the plumbing waste system, which prevents the drains from siphoning waste back into your house.plumbing vent on roof

Think of it this way. Have you ever dumped out a bottle of old, flat soda? When you tip the bottle over, the soda doesn’t dump out in a smooth, flowing stream. Instead, the bottle starts to glug, and the pressure pulls the edges of the plastic bottle in. If you took a knife and poked a hole in the bottom of the bottle, the pressure inside the bottle would equalize, and the soda would pour out much easier. This is how plumbing vents work, in a nutshell.

What do plumbing vents do?

The vents act just like that hole in the bottom of the soda bottle. Since they are positioned above the waste drains in your house, air enters the system through the plumbing vents and helps your drains discharge smoothly.

More importantly, plumbing vents make sure that odorous wastewater and sewer gases go down the drain too. As liquids go down the drain, the pressure pulls outside fresh air into the drain pipes, preventing potentially toxic fumes from entering your house.

What are some signs of a broken plumbing vent?

Whenever drains stop working, most homeowners assume that there is a blockage in the sewer line; however, a broken or stopped up plumbing vent could be the culprit.

One of the first signs of a plugged up plumbing vent is a gurgling noise come from your drains. Usually, this gurgling will be accompanied by standing water or a slow-moving drain. While a good indicator, this symptom is related to multiple plumbing issues, not necessarily just a broken plumbing vent.

A more accurate warning of a broken plumbing vent is when you smell foul odors coming from your drains. If your plumbing vent is blocked, fresh air is no longer preventing the drains from siphoning waste odors back into your home.

Finally, plumbing vents are connected to the roof with pipe boots. Over time, the boots can become worn and cracked, which could allow water to leak through your roof.

What causes a broken plumbing vent?

Since the plumbing vent is exposed on your roof, there are a number of factors that can plug it up, including:

  • leaves
  • animal nests
  • insect hives
  • snow
  • ice

What should I do if I suspect an issue with a plumbing vent?

If you think there’s a problem with your plumbing vent, you’ll most likely need to climb onto the roof and visually inspect the vent. If there is a minor weather or animal-related blockage, you may be able to remove it and clear the line. In many cases, the blockage is more complicated or difficult to diagnose, which requires help from a professional.

If you’re in the Tulsa, Okla. area, the experts at Raby Plumbing can help you diagnose and repair a broken plumbing vent. Raby Plumbing offers a full range of plumbing services for residential, commercial and industrial customers. If you’re having trouble finding the blockage, Raby Plumbing can conduct a video inspection of your home’s plumbing system.

Call (918) 200-9906 to schedule an appointment with one the experts at Raby Plumbing today.

Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Raby Plumbing does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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