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What Is a Plumbing Air Vent, and Why Is It Important?

Most savvy homeowners have a decent understanding of how their home’s plumbing functions. Many can take on basic DIY projects like clearing drain clogs, replacing a broken fixture, and fixing the common parts of a plumbing system.

Still, a few aspects of home plumbing remain elusive for even the most adventurous DIYers. For example, most people are oblivious about the role of the plumbing air vent peeking out through most roofs. What is it? What happens without it?

South OKC’s trustworthy plumbers have all the answers you need.

What Is a Plumbing Air Vent?

A plumbing air vent is a pipe that runs from your plumbing system through the roof. It’s a common sight in most residential properties. The pipe controls the movement of air pressure through your plumbing system.

Some people erroneously believe the plumbing air vent is there to allow air into your pipes, but that isn’t the reality. The drains across your home are open. Therefore, air can flow through the pipes easily and help gravity force wastewater through the plumbing system. Pressure is the real problem and where vents come in.

A plumbing vent problem arises when the plumbing system can’t let out air—not because it can’t let it in. Without a plumbing air vent, pressure can’t escape from the plumbing system. In this situation, harmful sewer gases will build up, impeding water flow through the pipework. 

The whole idea behind plumbing air events is that your plumbing system requires neutral air pressure to work. Otherwise, waste can’t move through the pipe. An imbalance in the air pressure may push the sewer gas back into your home, leaving a foul odor in rooms with sinks, toilets, and tubs.

With neutral air pressure, the pipes create vacuum pressure, quickly pulling waste and gas through the system.

Are Plumbing Air Vents Compulsory?

The building codes in Oklahoma require you to have a plumbing air vent for all plumbing-related fixtures in your home. The vents are compulsory because sewer gases recirculate into the house, putting everyone in the vicinity at risk.

The installation process for air vents is as complicated as designing a new plumbing system. It’s not a DIY project. The downsides to poorly installing a plumbing air vent outweigh any potential benefits. For your family’s safety, speak to professionals like us here at Champion Plumbing to get air vents that fit code regulations.

What Are the Types of Plumbing Air Vents?

There are different types of air vents, each serving a specific purpose. They include the following:

Common Vents

Common vents connect two plumbing fixtures on different sides of the same wall. Common vents connect sinks or tubs that sit side by side, separated by a wall. Since the fixtures are very close, they can connect to the vent with a single cross.

True Vents

A true vent runs vertically from your drain line and outwards through the roof. It’s the most common type of plumbing air vent for residential properties.

Air Admittance Valves

Air admittance valves vent multiple fixtures. They act as wastewater drains, and the effect of gravity on the valves keeps gases from leaking back into the home.

Re-Vent Pipe

These pipes attach to the drain lines closest to the fixture instead of directly to the unit. Then, they run upwards to meet the main stack that vents at the roof. They are also known as auxiliary vents.

In most properties, you’re sure to find a mix of these vent types working together to maintain the air pressure in your plumbing system. A professional plumber installing the vents completes an assessment of the system to decide on the best options for the property.

Signs of a Blocked Plumbing Air Vent

Blocked vents are a common sight. Due to constant exposure to the elements, they are attractive to rodents and birds looking for a home. Leaves and debris may also block them, allowing gases to build up inside the vent. The gas will eventually cause downward pressure on the plumbing system.

Over time, the pipes become so backed up with water and gas, making it difficult for wastewater to move through them. Here are some of the common signs of a blocked vent:

Slow-Draining Sinks and Toilets

Water draining slowly from your sinks and toilets is the top sign of a blockage in your plumbing system. If the fixture is clear of backup, you need to call a professional to examine the plumbing vents for any clogs.

A plunger or auger works when clearing clogs due to insoluble debris. But if the blockage remains after using the auger or plunger, it’s time to call in a plumber to check your venting system.

Gurgling Sounds From the Drains

The gurgling sounds occur as the waste gas tries to get back into your home. The sounds arise from the collision of the gases and the wastewater in the drains.

Water Heater Problems

A clogged plumbing air vent also puts pressure on your water heater. You may see cracks in the tank and water leakage in this situation. You’ll also notice the decreased efficiency of the hot water system. The hot water will disappear if you flush the toilet while waiting for hot water, and even when there’s hot water, it’s never enough.

Bad Smells Around Your Home

Sewer gas odors enter the home when you have a blocked plumbing vent. The hardest-hit areas are the laundry room and bathrooms on the lower level of your home. So, if you find an earthy or musty smell in these areas, there’s a high chance that you have sewer gas building up in the system.

How To Clear Plumbing Air Vent Blocks

Blocked plumbing air vents are hard to navigate because the symptoms are similar to what you’d get in a typical case of clogged drains. Standard drain cleaning approaches won’t rectify the problem.

In some cases, DIY enthusiasts damage their pipes by trying to get rid of nonexistent clogs. The best way to clear plumbing air vent blocks is to call a professional for comprehensive checks. Experienced plumbers have the right equipment to detect and clear out the clogs.

Even when the clog is due to a bird’s nest or accumulated debris on the outward part of the vent, you need the skill and experience to navigate a roof system without causing more serious damage.

A professional plumber evaluates the entire plumbing system, including the vents. This approach corrects all problems with the system.

How To Keep Your Plumbing Air Vents Clear

You can keep your plumbing air vents clear by having the pipes checked regularly during plumbing maintenance procedures. The plumber will analyze the water flow during the checks to ensure peak efficiency. They’ll also get rid of physical blockages from time to time.

Call Champion Plumbing To Check Your Plumbing Air Vents

Plumbing air vents are crucial for the smooth running of your residential or commercial plumbing system. They keep the drains flowing smoothly and bad odors from entering your home. Maintaining functional vents is the best way to prevent clogging and other such issues.

At Champion Plumbing, our clients trust us for a wide range of residential and commercial plumbing services in Edmond, OK, and nearby areas. We carry out plumbing air vent installation, inspection, and repairs. You can call us for expert repair of leaky toilets, broken fixtures, and more. Call 405-342-3571 to book your appointment today.

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The next time you need a plumbing contractor, call Champion Plumbing if you’re in the Edmond, OK area at 405-342-3571 and give us the chance to earn your business.