The purpose of a plumbing vent in your house is to remove sewer gases from the drainage system and equalize its atmospheric pressure. Without the plumbing vent, our toilets and all other home plumbing fixtures might not be draining properly, can cause unusual noises (like gurgling or belching as and after they discharge), and could be responsible for an unpleasant sewer gas smell inside the house.
It’s usually the same material as the rest of your plumbing drain system, but in older homes, there might be 2, 3, or even more types of pipes connected together (cast iron, galvanized, copper ABS, PVC). If you have a flat roof, you will most likely have to get up there to check your plumbing vents – be extremely careful, or have a professional do it for you!).
The most common reasons for this scenario are:
So if it’s not above the roof, and you do have plumbing in your house, something is wrong and the best place to start searching for the plumbing vent is in the attic.
Look for a pipe that penetrates the floor – the area usually corresponds to the toilets locations, kitchens, and other plumbing fixtures in your house. Sometimes plumbing vent pipe might be hidden under the insulation or simply laying on the attic floor. You should consider yourself lucky if you can locate it in the attic because sometimes it’s just a mystery, and could be an expensive one.
If your plumbing vent pipe is where it suppose to be, check the attic periodically anyway. You might be able to spot the problem early, and save yourself a costly repair. Some of the problems that might be visible from the attic:
Besides all the common plumbing fixtures, you may also have an ejector pump installed in your house. It might look just like a regular sump pump, but it serves your plumbing fixtures located below the main drain line.
The ejector pump well, its cover, and all penetration points should be sealed to prevent sewer gases from escaping into the living space. Sewer gases should be discharged to the exterior through the plumbing vent pipe attached to the well cover.
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This article was written by Dariusz Rudnicki
I'm a retired Illinois home inspector, founder and editor of checkthishouse.com, a blog which attracts around 2 thousand readers daily and is dedicated to answering the many questions of home owners and home buyers. Connect with me on Google+ Find me on Google+ Local