Plumbing Vents, Frozen, Heat Tape, Ice, Maintenance, Pipe Insulation, Prevention, Roof, Thaw, Vent Stack, Vents, Winter

Your home is equipped with multiple exhaust systems, such as those for the furnace, fireplace chimney, dryer vent, and kitchen fan. However, it’s important not to overlook one vent system that often goes unnoticed – the plumbing vents and vent stack. This is where Upper Arlington Plumbing & Drain comes in! We are here to provide you with all the necessary information about your plumbing vents and vent stack and how to prevent freezing. 

What Do They Do? 

The purpose of the vent stack is to facilitate the release of sewer gases through the roof, effectively keeping them out of your living spaces. Typically, each home is equipped with a single vent stack that connects to all the drain lines of the house. However, in some homes, multiple vent stacks may be present on the roof of a property. 

Vent stacks are commonly constructed using materials such as cast iron, steel, galvanized steel, PVC, and CPVC. Furthermore, it is important to note that each drain in your home, including sinks, toilets, and tubs, is equipped with a trap that acts as a barrier to prevent sewer gases from escaping through the drain. Typically, these traps are curved pipes, also known as P-traps.  

Plumbing vents play a crucial role in maintaining balanced air pressure within the drain system. This prevents water from being siphoned out of the traps. They also play parts in mitigating unwanted odors and gas and preventing backflow. In summary, plumbing vents and plumbing vent stacks are often underappreciated yet indispensable components of a plumbing system. 

What Happens When They Freeze?  

While the plumbing vent system typically requires minimal maintenance, it can pose a challenge during extremely cold weather. (Thanks, Ohio!) If your vent stack freezes shut and becomes obstructed, it can result in the accumulation of unpleasant sewer gases like hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and carbon monoxide in your home. These gases not only produce ghastly odors but also present potential plumbing issues. Therefore, it is important to address this issue promptly. 

What Are the Signs? 

  • When observing your vent stack from the outside, look to see if there is an ice accumulation on the vent stack. You should be able to spot this from the ground. For safety reasons, it is advised not to get on the roof. 
  • In certain instances, if your toilet is experiencing reduced flush or emitting gurgling sounds, it could indicate an obstruction in the vent stack. 

What Are the Ways to Prevent It?  

  • Pipe insulation is a highly recommended choice. If you have access to the pipe leading to the vent stack in your attic, consider wrapping it with pipe insulation. This will help maintain a warmer temperature and prevent the formation of ice. 
  • One valuable tip is to periodically flush warm water down infrequently used drains. This practice helps maintain a full trap and ensures optimal functionality, particularly for floor drains. 
  • Additionally, running hot water from one of your faucets, particularly on colder days, can generate a warm vapor that facilitates ice melting. 
  • It is crucial to ensure that the cap of the vent stack remains clear of leaves and debris. Ice and debris could create an even more complicated blockage. However, please prioritize safety. Again, we strongly advise against accessing your roof unless you are a professional. 
  • If your vent stack is already frozen, a method to expedite thawing is to open the attic door to allow warmer air into the attic. However, please be mindful that this may increase your heating expenses. 
  • If this situation has occurred multiple times, it is advisable to include heat tape as an additional measure in your attic. Another thing to consider is the installation of an insulated cap which further enhances insulation. 

To safeguard your plumbing vent stack from freezing during winter, it is imperative to adhere to the valuable tips mentioned above. Moreover, you should always conduct routine maintenance and implement preventive measures in colder weather to effectively prevent freezing and ensure the seamless functioning of your plumbing system. 

If you have any concerns regarding your plumbing vent stacks or encounter other plumbing-related issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to Upper Arlington Plumbing & Drain. Our team of experts is highly skilled and ready to address your concerns with the utmost professionalism and confidence. We’re here to help! Call us today at (614) 363-1924, or schedule an appointment by clicking here! Stay safe this winter!