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What Is a Plumbing Vent and Do You Need One?

If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your plumbing or to inspect the health of your plumbing, you’ve likely heard plumbing vents mentioned a few times. There are those who say that you probably have a plumbing vent already. Others might insist that you need to have your vent inspected. People often say that plumbing vents help your fixtures drain faster. This simply isn’t true; in fact, most of what people understand about plumbing is untrue. To determine if you have a vent or if you need to worry about it, you need to understand a few things.

Plumbing Traps

Ideally, every plumbing fixture in your house will be equipped with a trap. This is a bend in the pipe that allows water to collect. The water collects in the dip. That prevents gases from the sewage rising up and into your home. However, the water needs to remain in the plumbing trap to be effective. If the water drained every time you flushed or ran the water in your sink, the trap would not work very well. That’s where the plumbing vent comes in.

Plumbing Vents

Plumbing vents are pipes that run from your fixtures and up through the roof. They allow air into the plumbing system. That way, when you flush your toilet or run your faucet, the water drains through the pipe. It creates a vacuum that pulls on the water in the trap as well as pulls air in through the vent. Since the pipe is able to pull air in through the vent, it does not pull as hard on the water in the bend. The water stays in the trap after the fixtures drain.

Do You Have a Vent?

It is likely you have a plumbing vent in your house. Typically, it is made of the same PVC pipe as some of your plumbing fixtures. It looks like a tiny chimney at the top of your house. However, some plumbing vents might be harder to find. In order to reduce the number of intentional punctures through the roof, some homebuilders bundle as many pipes and cables as possible.

It is very likely that you will have a plumbing vent in your house. However, if you do not hear gurgling when your pipes drain or if you smell sewage even after running the water, you might need a bigger plumbing vent. Some older homes need their vents increased in size.

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