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

Your home is equipped with several exhaust systems. For example, these include those for the furnace, fireplace chimney, dryer vent, and kitchen fan. However, one exhaust that often goes unnoticed is the plumbing vent stack. This is where Middletown Plumbing & Drain comes into play! We are here to remind you of everything you need to know regarding your plumbing vent stack and how to prevent it from freezing.  

Do You Know What a Plumbing Vent Stack Is?      

The purpose of the vent stack is to enable the sewer gases to vent out through your roof and out of your living spaces. For the most part, each home has one vent stack, with all of the home’s drain lines connected to it. However, some homes may have more than one vent stack on their roof.   

Vent stacks are usually constructed out of cast iron, steel, galvanized steel, PVC, and CPVC. Keep in mind that every one of the drains in your home, including the sinks, toilets, tubs, etc., has a trap that acts as a sort of “plug” to keep sewer gases from coming out of the drain. Typically, the trap is a curve in a pipe. Plumbing vents are what keep the air pressure in the drain balanced. Ultimately, this results in the water not being able to be siphoned out of these traps, which is what is necessary to balance the air pressure, keep unwelcome gas and odors at bay, and prevent backflow and siphoning. All in all, the plumbing vents and plumbing vents stack are considered to be huge unsung heroes of a plumbing system. They are definitely overlooked but underrated components.  

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

While the plumbing vent system typically requires minimal maintenance, it can become a problem during extremely cold weather. (Thanks, Ohio!) So, suppose your vent stack freezes shut and becomes obstructed. In that case, it can lead to the accumulation of unwelcome sewer gases like hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and carbon monoxide in your home – not to mention the ghastly odors it can produce within your home. On top of that, it can present an array of other plumbing problems.  

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

  • When standing outside looking from the ground up, if you can see the vent stack with ice buildup accumulating, it likely means the stack has frozen up. Please, don’t go on your roof. Safety is a must. You should be able to see your vent stack from outside visually and, in some instances, view it from your window looking out.  
  • In some cases, if your toilet is running slowly or perhaps is making gurgling noises, this is a sign that the vent stack is obstructed.  

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

  • Insulation is always a great option. If you are able to access the pipe to the vent stack from your attic, wrapping it with pipe insulation will keep it warmer and can aid in preventing ice buildup.  
  • One great tip is that you can periodically pour warm water down drains that aren’t put to use too often. Doing this keeps the trap full and enables it to perform its job. This tip is especially helpful when applied to floor drains.   
  • In addition, when you run hot water from one of your faucets (especially on particularly cold days), it helps to create a warm vapor that can aid in melting the ice.  
  • It’s essential to make sure the cap of the vent stack is kept clear of leaves, debris, and leaves. But remember, safety is a priority. We don’t recommend you get on your roof unless you are a professional.  
  • In the event your vent stack is already frozen, one quick method to help unfreeze it a little faster is to open the attic door to help warm up the stack. Just keep in mind that it will raise your heating bill.  
  • If this 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.  

Ensure the protection of your plumbing vent stack from freezing this winter by following the helpful tips mentioned above. Additionally, remember that performing regular maintenance and taking preventive measures during colder weather can effectively prevent freezing and maintain the smooth operation of your plumbing system.   

If you suspect any issues with your plumbing vent stacks or encounter other plumbing-related problems, don’t hesitate to contact Middletown Plumbing & Drain. Our team of experts is well-equipped to address your concerns with professionalism and confidence. We’re here to help! Call us today at (937) 298-9979, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here! Stay safe this winter!