Building and maintaining a home or business require several components to function correctly. Electrical, HVAC systems, and the property’s foundation are essential elements in a home – but perhaps plumbing systems are the definitive component in any property due to their functionality and complex design.

Homeowners will encounter a plumbing issue every once, but diagnosing the problem involves more than just checking the interior water pipes. Many people don’t realize their existence, but plumbing vents on the roof are an essential part of the pipes in your home as it ensures water flow.

Understanding its purpose is highly beneficial to every property owner, especially when building a new home or renovating your current one. But what exactly are plumbing vents, and why are they important?

What are Plumbing Roof Vents?

Plumbing systems require two critical components to function correctly: first is an area to release sewer gases, and second a place to bring in oxygen. These functionalities are the primary purpose of plumbing roof vents or vent stacks.

Roof vents are a critical component of your plumbing system since the sewer gas build-up needs an area to release the pressure and odor. It assists your sewer system by breaking down the waste and maintaining a neutral pressure to allow the water to flow properly throughout your property.

Importance of Plumbing Air Vents

Every plumbing system relies heavily on proper ventilation, making vent stacks significantly crucial for working correctly. The u-shaped or s-shaped bent pipes you commonly see under your kitchen sink is also an essential component since it acts as a trap to prevent waste odors from emerging back through your drainage system.

The vents also promote air quality by supplying fresh air outside your home by moving the flushed or drained wastewater through the drainage pipes. In addition, it carries noxious fumes outside, keeping your home from smelling like wastewater.

How Do Plumbing Vents Work?

To better understand the importance of plumbing vents, you need to know how it works.

Step 1: Wastewater enters the sewage system through plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, and showers.

Step 2: As soon as the wastewater exits the fixtures, it flows through a trap that is typically U, S, or J shaped and contained water. The purpose of the water and bent trap is to create a seal that prevents sewer gases from flowing back inside through the drain pipes.

Step 3: As the wastewater flows through the drain pipes, it creates a siphon effect or negative pressure. This effect then pushes air ahead, causing a positive force that pulls the wastewater away from the trap. The roof vents then neutralize the positive and negative pressure by releasing it through the roof.

Roof vents also work as a ventilator to your plumbing system since the air build-up in your pipe fixtures requires an area to relieve pressure. The sewer gas can escape inside your property if not properly released, affecting the occupants’ health.

Common Types of Plumbing Vents

It would help if you also vented it properly when installing or replacing a plumbing fixture like toilets or kitchen sinks. To identify which vent stack works appropriately for your new fixture, here are the different types of roof vents:

Common Vent – It is primarily used between two fixtures on opposite sides of a wall where it serves as a ventilation system for both.

Air Admittance Valve – It is a device that allows air to enter into your drainage system and balance its pressure and prevent siphonage of the water trap from happening when a negative pressure develops into your system.

True Vent – It is a vertical pipe attached to your drain line that travels through your roof with no water running through it.

Revent pipe – It is also called an auxiliary vent. This device is attached to the drainpipe near the fixture and passes over to the central duct.

What Causes Plumbing Air Vent Problems?

Several factors can cause problems to your plumbing vents, leading to potentially hazardous wastewater overflows, toxic fumes, slow drains, and recurring gurgling sounds from the gutters. These factors include:

  • Improper layout and installation
  • Frozen roof vents
  • Damaged vent piping
  • Blocked plumbing vent

Blocked vents can be particularly troublesome since it is either the actual problem or the first sign of a more severe plumbing issue. However, there are ways to isolate the source of the damage, which is crucial because trying to fix the problem by draining the pipes can cause more expensive damage.

Some visual signs you can look for are blockages or slow draining water from the fixtures in your property. If the jam is not localized, you can identify the plumbing vent as the source of the blockage. Another clear indication of a venting issue is when you’re able to clear the clogs, but they keep on returning.

Plumbing vent obstructions would always require immediate action by a professional plumber. You need to remember that just because you have identified the vent as the source of the blockage doesn’t mean that you can DIY repair the vent with simple tools and safety railings.

Do Plumbing Vents Need Maintenance?

Unlike roofing systems, roof vents don’t necessarily require regular maintenance. Their job is very straightforward and doesn’t need much attention except a clogged plumbing vent. Since plumbers usually install vents in the roof, it is constantly at risk of external clogging culprits, including:

  • Tree branches and leaves debris
  • Bird nests
  • Snow and ice
  • Dead animals
  • Random objects such as bits of construction materials from a recent roofing inspection

Roofing vents are an essential component of your home. Its functionality provides exceptional support to your plumbing system by preventing foul wastewater odors from infiltrating your home while promoting air quality by letting fresh air inside. Ensure that you install the vent properly, comply with the local plumbing code, and are free of any blockage to avoid plumbing issues.  If you’re unsure, always call a licensed plumber to answer any questions.