Although they haven’t changed much in the last 100 years or so, residential plumbing systems are still complex. The pipes you see exposed that lead to sinks and toilets are just a small part of a much larger system that provides clean water and removes waste from your Sutton home. One crucial part of every plumbing system is the plumbing vent. Although you may not know what a plumbing vent does, you’ll certainly notice if one or more vents in your home become clogged. That’s why, if you’re having plumbing problems, it’s important to call Landry Mechanical to see if a clogged vent might be the culprit. Here is a basic outline of what a plumber does when they discover a clogged plumbing vent at your home.
What Is a Plumbing Vent?
Water is obviously an important ingredient in your home’s plumbing system. You might be surprised to learn that another important ingredient is air. Without proper airflow, the various plumbing fixtures in your home can’t drain properly. Providing adequate airflow is one purpose of a plumbing vent. Typically, the plumbing fixtures in your home will be arranged so that they can all tie into one or two main plumbing vents. These vents, also called “stacks,” start at the lowest level of your home and continue on through the roof. Since they’re open to the air, air can flow into the vent when you drain a sink or flush a toilet to provide the correct air pressure needed to move water to the drain.
The most important purpose of a plumbing vent is to remove harmful sewer gases from your home and release them into the outside air. As long as each individual plumbing fixture has a functioning P-trap, sewer gases from the main drain line shouldn’t be able to find their way into your home. However, without a plumbing vent, gases from the main drain line will build up in your home’s plumbing and could potentially explode if the concentration of methane becomes high enough. With a plumbing vent in place, though, the methane will rise harmlessly into the air so that you don’t have to face a major catastrophe.
Signs of a Clogged Plumbing Vent
If your home has a clogged plumbing vent, you’ll notice at least one of these symptoms to let you know it’s time to call Landry Mechanical. First, if any of your plumbing fixtures are having trouble draining, it could be due to a clogged plumbing vent. While you may instead have a clogged drain, a plumbing vent can cause drains to slow down even if the drains are perfectly clear.
Another sure sign of a clogged plumbing vent is the smell of sewer gases in your home. As the concentration of methane increases in the clogged vent, the gas can become dissolved in the water in your P-traps and eventually come into your home. Remember that methane is flammable, so if you smell sewer gases, make sure to open some windows to reduce the concentration of methane. A final symptom to look for is gurgling plumbing fixtures. If your home’s toilets, sinks, and other fixtures can’t get enough air when they’re draining, they will gurgle as the drains struggle to find adequate air. If you’ve tried to clean your home’s drains with no reduction in gurgling, a clogged vent could be to blame.
Identifying the Clog
When a plumber from Landry Mechanical arrives at your home, their first order of business will be to identify the location and composition of the clog. They will access your plumbing vent from the roof, and using a sewer camera, they will inspect your plumbing vent until they locate the clog. They may also use a probe of some kind to help remove small portions of the clog so that they can inspect its composition. Understanding the location and composition of the clog will help the plumber determine the best method to use to remove the clog.
Accessing the Clog
Depending on the location of the clog, a plumber may access and remove it in a few different ways. A clog that’s only a few feet from the top of the vent may be able to be reached using a simple electrician’s hook. Clogs that are further down the vent will likely require a plumber’s snake for removal. In many cases, a simple garden hose can also provide good access to the clog. Plus, the water that the hose ejects can be useful in softening and removing the clog.
Removing the Clog
Given the active nature of a plumbing vent, most vent clogs take years to form and do so in several layers. Thus, removing a clog from a plumbing vent can be a little more tricky than, for example, removing a small clump of hair from a shower drain. In some cases, the plumber may need to soften the clog with water or special chemicals before proceeding with removal. Although the clog can be allowed to fall down the stack, some plumbers prefer to try and capture the bulk of the materials in the clog to prevent a clog in the main drain line. Doing so requires careful planning using a tool with an extended reach and strong pinchers on the end to grasp the debris causing the clog.
Cleaning the Vent
After a plumber from Landry Mechanical removes a clog, they will typically inspect the vent and clean it to make it harder for clogs to form in the future. If the vent pipe has mineral deposits or other debris along its walls, more debris could adhere to these obstructions and create another clog. For especially dirty plumbing vents, hydro-jetting may be useful. This process uses a powerful stream of water to blast debris from the walls of the pipe. A long-handled brush on the end of a drill can also be used for shorter plumbing vents. After a final cleaning and inspection, the plumber will test your home’s plumbing fixtures to ensure they’re working properly.
Protecting the Vent
In many cases, a clog in a plumbing vent forms when leaves, sticks, and other debris fall into the vent from outside. To help protect your plumbing vent from this problem, your plumber should install one of a wide variety of plumbing vent caps. Some caps are simple screens that prevent large pieces of debris from going inside the vent. Other caps are more complex and feature smaller holes to filter out nearly all types of debris. No matter which cap your plumber uses, it’s crucial that they install it correctly so that they don’t reduce the airflow in and out of the vent.
Helping You Maintain Your Home’s Plumbing System
At Landry Mechanical, we believe in helping our customers maintain their plumbing systems so that they always work as designed. That’s why we offer a complete lineup of plumbing services, including plumbing vent cleaning, water heater installation and repair, drain cleaning, water filter system installation, and more. We can also install air conditioners, repair furnaces, and perform a wide variety of electrical work. With over 10 years of experience, we’ve built a reputation for excellent service and quality results, earning many five-star reviews along the way. To learn more about maintaining your home’s plumbing system, contact us at Landry Mechanical today.