QUESTION: Recently, a friend had a problem with his kitchen sink drain and tried all kinds of things to clear the drain. He finally had to call a sewer service, which fixed the problem when he wasn’t home. A service representative said the problem was a clogged vent, but my friend doesn’t know how it was repaired. I live in an older home with some slow drains, and I may have the same problem. How do you clear a clogged vent?
Dick Conway via email
ANSWER: “Most homeowners, as well as the majority of drain-cleaning personnel, give no thought to a stopped-up vent system preventing a drain from working properly,” says Vince McDonald of McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento. “Although a plugged vent can interfere with the proper functioning of the drain, it rarely stops up a drain completely,” he says. “Poor waste-pipe drainage can be somewhat tolerated in a basin or bathtub, but when it comes to a washing machine drain, it can result in a flood of water onto the floor.”
“The purpose of the vent is to introduce air into the drainage system. It equalizes the pressures in the system and permits the wastewater to flow freely down the line. The vent also prevents the water in the trap, sometimes called the goose neck, from siphoning out. The trap, with its built-in water seal, prevents sewer gas from entering your home through the drainage system. When wastewater runs down a waste line, it often backs up into the venting system. As it recedes, it leaves behind residue and waste particles. Over time, the vent can become stopped up and no longer provide its important function.”
“In California, code requires all plumbing fixtures to be properly vented. The vents for all plumbing fixtures pass up through the walls and terminate through the roof. “one quick way to check your vents is to run water from a garden hose down through your vents from on top of the roof,” McDonald said. “Sometimes a drain-cleaning technician will run a machine down the vent from on top of the roof. Often, the vents of more than one plumbing fixture will be connected together before passing through the roof. Because of the nature of this repair, it would be a good idea to hire a professional drain cleaning or plumbing company,” McDonald advises.
For more information please contact McDonald Plumbing
Heating and Air at (916) 233-4194.