How to Avoid Improper Toilet Trap Venting
A lot of people don’t truly understand how their toilet works, and many individuals do not actually need to understand it. When something starts to fail though, it can be extremely valuable to understand exactly what’s going on so you can try and take care of the problem yourself.
Plumbing in San Antonio is all about moving water from A to B. The basic function of plumbing is to direct, deliver and eliminate water. In the process of doing this, there are numerous chances for air to enter and to in fact interrupt the movement of the water. A pipe is never empty, even if there is no water streaming through it. The pipes in your house are always full of air. When we present water into a pipe, we are pushing out the air. The air is not going to simply disappear, so we should provide an access for the air to escape while keeping the water in the pipes. And to complicate the problem, it is desirable to let the air escape without letting nasty sewer smells into the house.
For every drain in your house, a plan has to be made so that the air in your waste water pipes does not reach your residence. The trouble is resolved by making certain there’s constantly an obstacle of water between the fixture and the waste line. This is achieved by something called a trap, usually a “U” shaped pipe (however sometimes “P” shaped) right beneath the drain or, in the case of your toilet, inside the base of the fixture that always has a few inches of water trapped in it.
The vent system manages air on the downstream side of the trap which, particularly in the case of the waste line from the toilet, does not smell extremely pleasant. As the water and everything in it hurries from the toilet, the pushed air ahead of it comes to a vertical pipe. Water and waste falls down, and air and smells exit the vent stack through the roofing system and into the outdoor air. Air is lighter than water so you will never have a situation where waste water is spouting out of your roofing. When the water has gone by, air is reestablished from the vent stack preventing the production of a vacuum. Air heads out and air goes back in. When there’s no water being drained, the vent stack passes smells and sewer gas straight up and out.
In some cases, there’s an issue in the vent system. Usually this is a clog, like a bird’s nest or leaves stuck in the vent stack. We have even seen circumstances where tennis balls and baseballs have been lodged in there.
When that takes place, no air is reintroduced. The resulting vacuum offers enough suction so that all the water is pulled from the trap. Two things can take place in this situation:
The toilet bowl has all water drawn out of it and the sewer gas quickly escapes. The toilet bowl doesn’t fill up with water and since there isn’t any water, sewer gas is allowed to escape from the toilet into your home. The water is what normally keeps the gas down.
The trap is pulled down enough to make the toilet gurgle and spit water. The air bubbles that will explode from your toilet will be sewer gas and will smell. A poorly vented pump is typically the cause for this scenario.
How Can This Happen
All of the plumbing in your home needs air. When we flush a toilet and introduce water into the system, the air that exists in the system has to be displaced and typically does this through the vent stack. If that stack is blocked, the plumbing system still needs to pull air from somewhere and will do it with the first readily available source, which for the purposes of this post can be a close-by toilet. When you think of it, the toilet line itself is a “vent” coming off of the major sewer pipe. What makes this vent different is that is it covered by a toilet. If there was no toilet, the toilet vent line would operate like your roof vent and pull air into the system.
Why Is my Toilet Breaking?
The trap in a toilet is generally a flap or seal. There is no elegant engineering there however it is rather a beneficial device for keeping the water in as a barrier to the bad sewage system smell that nobody wants. If your vent is not clear and your system keeps attempting to pull from your toilet “vent”, then the flap or trap will ultimately deteriorate and enable water to leak out of it. You understand there is a concern if your toilet periodically turns on & fills out the reserve tank with water. If that takes place, it implies there is a leakage in the trap. Note that a leaking trap will not constantly release sewer gas. The toilet plunger in the tank is decreasing to a level where it thinks it should refill itself. If you don’t take care of the vent, you can go through a few toilets a year. Pretty pricey considering commodes typical around $300.
What Can I Do?
If you notice the symptoms of inadequate venting (scent of sewage system gas and/or toilet bowl completely drained or periodically draining & refilling itself) there’s some chance that you can take care of the trouble yourself. Grab a Ladder. Many of your vent stack is inside your walls, but where it comes out of the roof you can get to it. Get on your roof with a flashlight to see if you can detect anything foreign in there. Be Careful.
Exercising all required caution, you can climb up on your roof and examine the top of your vent stack. Make sure you are doing this with someone else. Never go onto your roof alone.
Find the Clog
If you discover any obstruction, remove it. This is not always as easy as it seems, so you may have to get creative. A sewer vent (soil stack) is generally 3″-4″ in diameter, where other vents are normally 1 1/2″. If you have multiple vents on your roof, the biggest one is the one you must be focused on.
If there’s no blockage or the trouble’s not fixed, it’s most likely time to call in a professional. Texas, San Antonio Plumbing Repair has the ability to recognize the concern and advise the best strategy.