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.
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.
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.
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.
- Photo Credit sewer image by blacklight from Fotolia.com
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