Menu

What is a Plumbing Vent and What Does It Do?

Plumbing vents exposed during roof install Credit: Chad Johnston (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Indoor plumbing is an essential component of every home. Without it, well, things would get messy. Some plumbing systems contain more than pipes and faucets. When issues arise, it may seem like something is “wrong with the pipes”, but your plumbing vents can also cause some of the most common problems.

Let’s examine what plumbing vents are, what problems they can cause, and how to fix them to keep your plumbing system in tip-top shape.

What is a Plumbing Vent?

A plumbing vent, or a vent stack, regulates the air pressure within your home’s plumbing system. They’re comparable to drain pipes, which remove waste and water from your home; plumbing vents remove the gas and odor from your home. This also allows fresh air into the system, which improves pipe drainage and water flow.

The vent stack is a vertical drain line that goes through your home's roof to reach the outside. No running water goes through the plumbing vent. It connects with your main roof vent, allowing gases to vent and maintain the proper pressure within your home’s plumbing system.

Why is a Plumbing Air Vent Necessary?

A plumbing system is created to move waste and water efficiently out of a home. The drainage and vent systems work together to make this happen. Your drainage pipes carry the waste to the city sewer or septic lines. The vent pipes ensure fresh air gets into the drainage pipes so that water can move from the toilet, sink, or shower when in use.

When these systems are out of balance, they work against each other, causing various plumbing issues in your home. Over time, these issues can be costly to repair if ignored.

What Are Common Issues with Plumbing Vent Pipes?

If you didn’t have a plumbing air vent in your home, the pressure would build up in your drainage pipes, which can cause all sorts of issues, such as:

  • Gurgling sounds in your pipes and drains
  • Low water flow from faucets
  • Standing water in the sink, shower, and bathtubs
  • Slow drainage of water in the sink, shower, and bathtubs
  • Smelling sewage, rotten eggs, or other unpleasant odors

While you can clear what appears to be a clogged drain yourself, if a blocked plumbing vent is causing the issue, that’s much harder to fix it yourself.

The longer a blocked air vent is the issue, the more dirt, debris, and sediment can build up in your pipes, causing even more plumbing problems in the future. You may even have to replace your pipes if this issue isn’t fixed.

You can attempt to fix a slow-flowing drain with a drain cleaner, a plumber, or an auger. These methods may not clear up the plumbing vent blockage. It won’t make a difference long-term. You may think that because your water flows again or you don’t see any issues, it’s fixed until a few months down the line when a back-up occurs again in your kitchen sink or shower.

Keep in mind that drain cleaners like Drano can cause more harm than good when you use them in your home. If you don’t know how to use an auger, you may damage your pipes. While everyone wants to take care of issues that pop up at home, when it comes to your plumbing, leave it to the professionals like A.B. May.

Let A.B. May Fix Your Plumbing Vent Issues

Don’t fix it yourself if you suspect your plumbing air vent might be the cause of your plumbing issues.

Call A.B. May today at 913-370-4898 to schedule a service visit.

Let our skilled plumbers diagnose any plumbing vent issues you’re having. They’ll be able to fix it once and for all, giving you the peace of mind your home’s plumbing won’t run into any issues in the future. A.B. May techs are your Kansas City plumbing experts.