As a homeowner, it’s inevitable that you’re going to deal with plumbing issues every now and then. If you’re like most people, you have a pretty good idea what’s wrong when the bathroom sink clogs (likely culprits hair and soap scum), or when the kitchen sink clogs (grease, debris, food scum).
However, there’s a lesser-known cause of some plumbing problems, and it’s sitting on top of your house right now: it’s called a “plumbing vent.”
Plumbing vents are situated on the roof of homes, with the 2 to 3-inch pipe extending upwards. The purpose of this pipe is to allow air into the drainage system. The problem is that when this vent gets blocked, the blockage can cause the flow of water to slow down, or stop, and then foul smelling sewer gasses can enter the home.
Blockages Create ‘Negative’ Pressure
When this vent gets blocked, the flow of water creates a negative pressure within the drain pipes. In effect, the force of suction stops the water flow and sucks air through the P-traps. After this happens, you’ll soon notice slow drainage and you may even hear gurgling sounds coming from various drain openings.
If the condition isn’t remedied, more frequent blockages follow because the slow-moving water leads to more sediment buildup.
If you can’t seem to clear a slow-flowing drain with a drain cleaner, plunger, or auger, then there’s a strong possibility that you have a vent problem.
What blocks plumbing vents?
What kind of things atop of your house can block these small vents? Typically, plumbing vents are blocked by debris, such as dirt and leaves, sticks, or even small animals. When vent pipes are totally blocked, the vacuum can become so strong, that it sucks water out of the P-traps.
At that point, you won’t hear anymore gurgling, but you’ll notice the smell of sewer gasses in the rooms of the affected plumbing fixtures. Such problems need immediate attention from a licensed plumber.
Because not only are you dealing with bad odors, empty P-traps are hazardous to your health and can cause disease.