Are Your Plumbing Vents Blocked?

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Kitchen Sink - Plumbing in Omaha, NE

When your home’s drains smell or have problems draining, your first thought is likely of drain cleaning rather than venting. However, many stubborn problems that act like clogged drains are actually due to clogs in the vents that let air escape from your plumbing system instead.

Since most homeowners aren’t even aware their plumbing is vented, they’re likely also unaware of the signs of problems with the vents. Learn how to identify potential vent problems and what to do about them.

Signs of Blocked Vents

The symptoms of a blocked plumbing vent can have many causes, but when multiple symptoms occur concurrently, the culprit is most likely a vent problem.

Unpleasant Odors

The main purpose of plumbing vents is to let air escape so water and waste drains away properly every time you flush or rinse a dish out in the sink. Much of this air that ends up in the pipes is sewer gas rising up from the septic tank or main lines. When the vent that is supposed to release this gas is blocked, you’ll smell it rising from your sink and tub drains instead.

You might not be able to tell if an unpleasant odor is coming from food waste trapped in a sink drain line or rising sewer gas. Sewer gas also has many components that are hazardous to your health, so you don’t want to sniff too closely to figure out the source of the odor. Have your drains inspected anytime you suspect an odor is coming from them instead of trying to troubleshoot smells yourself.

Unusual Noises

You won’t just hear usual plumbing noises when you’ve got at least one blocked vent. Listen closely for gurgling and bubbling noises whenever water drains down the pipes.

You may hear the gurgling noise in a drain that isn’t the one you’re using as well. For example, you might hear gurgles from the toilet while draining the tub after a bath. This noise is caused by the air flowing up through the pipe rather than the vent.

Unreliable Drains

Finally, slow and uneven drainage also indicates that one or more vents are blocked. Unfortunately, a partial clog or damaged sewage pipe can also cause this symptom. Only a plumber can determine whether you need your drains cleaned, your vents checked, or plumbing inspected to find roots and crushed pipes.

Solutions to Vent Blockages

Since these plumbing vents must rise above the roof line to safely release sewer gas, they’re hard for a homeowner to inspect or repair. Hire a professional to handle the following repairs and updates.

Pipe Clearing

Vent blockages are easily solved in most cases once the plumber discovers the blockage. Plumbers with pipe cameras can quickly catch even obscure blocks deep in the vents.

Common materials found in plumbing vents range from simple collections of pine needles or leaves to entire nests of animals or birds. The blockage could even be caused by a vent cover designed to prevent clogs that slid down and created a problem instead.

Vent Repairs

Covering the open tops of the plumbing vents on your home is the most basic upgrade to prevent blocks in the future. A piece of hardware cloth or screen on the top of each pipe keeps everything from leaves to squirrels out, but they can blow away in a storm. Complex caps are available that stay in place under difficult conditions, although they still need regular inspection.

Worried that your plumbing vents may need some attention? Reach out to us today here at Backlund Plumbing to schedule an inspection before the problem gets any worse.

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Backlund Plumbing, Inc
6215 Grover St. Omaha, NE 68106 | Phone: (402)341-0450 | Fax: (402)345-8742