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

Your home has multiple exhaust or vent systems. For example, your furnace, fireplace chimney, dryer vent, and kitchen fan all have their own vents. However, one exhaust system that is often overlooked is the plumbing vent and vent stack. This is where Westerville Plumbing & Drain can help! We are here to provide you with all the information you need about your plumbing vents and vent stack and how to take care of them this winter. 

Do You Know What a Plumbing Vent Stack Is?       

The vent stack’s purpose is to allow sewer gases to escape through the roof and out of your living spaces. Typically, each home has one vent stack that connects to all the drain lines. However, some homes may have multiple vent stacks on their roof.   Vent stacks are commonly made of materials like cast iron, steel, galvanized steel, PVC, and CPVC. It’s important to note that every drain in your home, including sinks, toilets, and tubs, has a trap that acts as a “plug” to prevent sewer gases from escaping. Typically, the trap is a curved pipe, which is also known as the P-trap.  

Plumbing vents help maintain balanced air pressure in the drain, ensuring that water doesn’t get siphoned out of the traps. They also aid in keeping unwanted gas and odors at bay, as well as prevent backflow. Now, it’s true that plumbing vents and vent stacks are often overlooked, but they play a crucial role in a plumbing system.  

Do You Know What Happens When a Plumbing Vent Stack Freezes?     

While the plumbing vent system usually requires minimal maintenance, it can become problematic during extremely cold weather (Thanks, Ohio!). If your vent stack freezes shut and gets blocked, it can cause the accumulation of unpleasant sewer gases like hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and carbon monoxide in your home. Not to mention the awful odors it can produce. Additionally, it can lead to various other plumbing issues. None of which you want to happen in your home. 

Do You Know What the Signs of a Frozen Vent Stack Are?   

  • If you’re standing outside and notice ice accumulating on the vent stack when looking up from the ground, it could indicate that the vent stack has frozen.  
  • Sometimes, if your toilet is running slowly or even making gurgling noises, it could mean that the vent stack is frozen and blocked off. 

Do You Know How to Prevent Your Plumbing Vent Stack from Freezing?     

  • Pipe insulation is a great choice. If you can reach the pipe to the vent stack through your attic, wrapping the pipe with pipe insulation will keep the vent stack warmer and help prevent ice buildup.   
  • A useful tip is to periodically pour warm water down drains that are not used often. This helps keep the trap full and ensures it functions properly. This is particularly helpful for floor drains. 
  • Additionally, running hot water from one of your faucets, especially on cold days, can create warm vapor that helps melt the ice. 
  • It’s important to regularly clear the vent stack cap from leaves and debris. Loose debris and ice paired together will create an even more troublesome headache to deal with. However, please prioritize safety and avoid getting on your roof unless you are a professional. 
  • If your vent stack is already frozen, a quick way to unfreeze it faster is to open the attic door and let the warm air from your house rise into the attic. However, be aware that this may increase your heating bill. 
  • If this plumbing problem has happened multiple times, you can use heat tape in your attic around the portion of the vent stack you have access to. Additionally, consider adding an insulated cap for further protection. 

To protect your plumbing vent stack from freezing this winter, follow the helpful tips mentioned above. Also, remember that regular maintenance and preventive measures during colder weather can effectively prevent freezing and keep your plumbing system running smoothly. 

If you have any concerns regarding your plumbing vent stacks or come across other plumbing-related issues, feel free to reach out to Westerville Plumbing & Drain. Our team of experts is ready to assist you with professionalism and confidence. We’re here to help! Call us today at (614) 540-3437, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here! Stay safe this winter!