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

Your home has several exhaust systems. For example, there’s an exhaust system for the furnace, fireplace chimney, dryer vent, and kitchen fan. But you know what often gets overlooked? The plumbing vent system! And that’s where New Albany Plumbing & Drain comes in! We’re here to remind you about everything you need to know about your plumbing vents and vent stack and how to keep it from freezing, so you can continue to enjoy a cozy and magical winter this season.   

Do You Know What a Plumbing Vent Stack Is?       

The purpose of the vent stack is to let the sewer gases vent out through your roof instead of lingering in your living spaces. Typically, each home has one vent stack that connects to all the drain lines. However, in some cases, you might find more than one vent stack on the roof. 

Vent stacks are usually made of cast iron, steel, galvanized steel, PVC, and CPVC. Just remember, every drain in your home, like sinks, toilets, and tubs, has a trap that acts like a “plug” to keep sewer gases from coming out. These are usually in the form of a curved pipe like a P-trap or such.  

Plumbing vents help balance the air pressure in the drain so water doesn’t get siphoned out of the traps. This also keeps unwanted gas and odors away and prevents backflow and siphoning. The plumbing vents and plumbing vent stack could be considered true unsung heroes of the plumbing system. They may not get much credit, but they’re super important! 

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

While the plumbing vent system usually doesn’t need much maintenance, it can be a hassle in freezing weather. (Thanks, Ohio!) So, let’s say your vent stack freezes shut and gets blocked. Well, that can cause unpleasant sewer gases like hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and carbon monoxide to build up in your home, not to mention the awful smell it can create. And if that’s not enough, it can also lead to various other plumbing issues.  

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

  • If you’re standing outside and notice ice buildup accumulating on the vent stack when looking up from the ground, it’s a sign that the stack has frozen up. But please avoid going on your roof for safety reasons.  
  • Another thing to be on the lookout for is if your toilet is running sluggishly or making a gurgling noise; it could mean the vent stack is frozen and blocked.  

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

  • Pipe insulation is always a solid choice. If you can reach the pipe to the vent stack from your attic, wrapping it with pipe insulation will help keep it warm and can prevent ice buildup. 
  • Here’s a handy tip: every now and then, pour some warm water down drains that aren’t used often. This helps keep the trap full and ensures it does its job. This trick works wonders for floor drains too! 
  • Also, when you turn on the hot water from one of your faucets (especially on really cold days), it helps create a warm vapor that can help melt the ice. 
  • It’s also beneficial to keep the cap of the vent stack free from leaves, debris, and other stuff. But remember, safety first! We don’t suggest you climb up on your roof unless you’re a pro. 
  • If your vent stack is already frozen, a quick tip to help thaw it a bit faster is to open the attic door so that the warm air from your home can help warm the attic and, therefore, the vent stack. Just keep in mind it may increase your heating bill a bit. 
  • If this issue has happened more than once, heat tape is another good option to add to the stack within your attic. The addition of an insulated cap is another thing you can consider adding as well.   

Make sure your plumbing vent stack stays protected from freezing this winter by following the helpful tips mentioned above. Also, remember that doing regular maintenance and taking preventive measures during colder weather can help prevent freezing and keep your plumbing system running smoothly. 

If you notice any problems with your plumbing vent stacks or come across other plumbing-related issues, feel free to reach out to New Albany Plumbing & Drain. Our team of experts is here to help you out with professionalism and confidence. Call us today at (614) 245-3319, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here! Stay safe this winter!