What Are Sewer Vent Pipes For?

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For the plumbing to work correctly in any house, the pipes require a down-slope to drain sewage from sinks, showers and toilets. The plumbing also needs sewer vent pipes tied into the drainage pipes.

Description

  • As sinks, showers or toilets empty, gravity helps drain the waste downward to a main sewer pipe that carries it from the house to a regional water treatment plant. Sewer vent pipes attach to the plumbing at the house's lowest level and extend upward through the roof to a capped or uncapped pipe.

Function

  • Vent pipes let air into the plumbing system, preventing vacuum formation which permits trouble-free sewage drainage. Air also begins the sewage decomposition process, which produces sewer gas that needs proper ventilation to prevent build-up to gas leakage into the house. Vent pipes also carry sewer gas up to the rooftop, allowing it to escape and preventing build-up in the plumbing.

Warning

  • The smell of sewer gas inside indicates a damaged vent stack or problem in the plumbing that allows gas into the house (e.g. a poorly sealed toilet or a p-trap). It may be necessary to have a plumber perform a smoky test to locate the problem and determine how to repair it.

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References

  • Photo Credit sewer image by blacklight from Fotolia.com
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