Plumbing vents are an important part of your home’s plumbing system. They ensure the integrity of your pipes, help to clear out debris, and rid your house of sewer gases and other toxins. But what are plumbing vents exactly, how do they work, and what can you do if something goes wrong? Read on to learn everything you need to know about taking care of your home’s plumbing vent.

What are Plumbing Vents?

Plumbing vents might sound strange at first. Plumbing is for liquids and vents are for air. But neither can function without the other. A plumbing vent has two major functions. The first is the regulation of air pressure within your plumbing system. Your house is constantly washing liquids and other waste out through plumbing in toilets, sinks, and showers. Without proper air pressure, though, that waste would easily be backed up or clogged. Just like pouring milk or juice out of a jug, air has to find its way in to fill the void left by the emptying liquid. A plumbing vent pipe allows air to fill the space vacated by the waste of the plumbing. With this equalized pressure, water is able to flow freely through the pipes and out of the home without interruption or fear of backsplash.

The second major function of a plumbing vent pipe is to ventilate the sewer gases emitted from your home’s sewage. To put it delicately, your plumbing can harbor harmful and toxic sewer gases that need to be released. To put it realistically, sewage stinks and you don’t want your house to stink as well. That’s where your plumbing vent stack comes into play. As part of your home’s plumbing system, a plumbing vent pipe is connected to your sewage pipes, and then connects to the vent stack which runs up and out through your roof. This allows the sewer gases to escape your home without affecting the area where you actually live. The gases dissipate and the smell is never an issue.

How to maintain and repair a plumbing vent

As you can see, having a fully functioning plumbing vent is paramount. Without it, plumbing issues could lead to water damage, burst pipes, and other smelly dilemmas. To make sure that all of your plumbing is working at peak performance, there are a few things you can do regularly and some fixes to try if you suspect your plumbing vent has been compromised.

1. Take Care of Your Plumbing

First and foremost, take care of your plumbing. It may go without saying, but taking care of your entire plumbing system is important to keep all of your pipes and vents in good shape. Never flush anything down the toilet besides toilet paper, make sure that your sinks have stoppers, and run your garbage disposal regularly. It’s also wise to read your owner’s manual regarding your garbage disposal. Not everything that falls in the sink should go through your garbage disposal. Certain organic foods like eggshells and banana peels can damage more than just your disposal if they get through to the pipes. Flushing anything down drains that doesn’t belong means you run the risk of causing a block in your pipes, leading to further damage.

2. Correctly Diagnose the Issue

If you have a clog in a sink or other drain, it may be unclear whether the problem is with the plumbing vent pipe or more directly related to the drain where the problem is. Some signs you can look for are clogs or slow draining water from multiple sites in your home. If the problem isn’t localized, that could point to a plumbing vent clog. If you hear a lot of gurgling when you run water down a drain, that might also signal a problem with the main plumbing vent. Or, if you’re able to clear clogs but they keep returning, your problem most likely lies further down the line with the plumbing vent. Sometimes vigorous plunging from the problem site is enough to clear the clog, but more often than not, the obstruction needs to be dealt with directly.

3. Seek Professional Help

If the plumbing vent becomes completely blocked, you will no longer hear gurgling, you will get standing water, and the smell of sewage will begin to permeate your home. In these cases, it’s best to enlist professional assistance as soon as possible. Not only will a complete blockage disrupt your entire plumbing system, but the smell can become unbearable. It’s always best to fix these problems as soon as you notice them to prevent any future damage or setbacks.

Plumbing vent pipe installation is an important part of any home’s plumbing system and should be done by professionals. Building codes dictate that drain pipes need to always point down to let gravity pull the waste, and If you believe there is a major problem or that the plumbing vent pipe installation was not done properly, make sure to contact a plumber.

Stay Proactive and Prevent Plumbing Vent Issues

Plumbing vents are an important part of your home that keep the good in and ensure that the bad stays out. Always take care of all your plumbing. Keep bathroom fixtures free of unflushable materials, deal with clogs quickly, and don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a certified plumber. Taking a little care of your home now can save you much more costly repairs in the future. And for help keeping your home protected from costly repairs, a home warranty may help.