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Schematic of a plumbing stack vent (C) Carson Dunlop AssociatesPlumbing Vent Systems
Problem Detection & Repair - Drain Noises, Gas Smells & Septic Tank Odors

  • PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES - home - CONTENTS: How to inspect the plumbing vent system to find leaks and sewer gas or septic gas odor sources. How to prevent or cure sewer gas odors from septic systems, building plumbing, & other causes. Sewer gas smell Septic gas smell diagnosis - plumbing checklist
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about troubleshooting plumbing drain waste vent system noises & odors
  • REFERENCES
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Troubleshooting plumbing vents: this article describes how to examine the building's plumbing vent system piping and connections in order to diagnose, find, and cure odors in buildings including septic or sewage or sewer gas smells or plumbing drain and fixture noises that may appear indoors or outside. Here we list common causes of plumbing problems related to improper plumbing vents.

We describe how to track down and correct these "gas odors" in buildings with a focus on homes with a private onsite septic tank but including tips for owners whose home is connected to a sewer system as well. What makes the smell in sewer gas? Sewer gases are more than an obnoxious odor.

What causes that gurgling noise in a sink, tub or shower drain, and why do some fixtures "gurgle" when a toilet is flushed nearby? Here are the answers.



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Plumbing Vent Piping Defects May Cause Drain Noises or May Release Dangerous Sewer Gas Odors Indoors

Short plumbing vent (C) Daniel FriedmanOur page top sketch of a plumbing stack vent and other sketches included below are provided courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates. At left is a plumbing vent installed on an angle, making us question the workmanship of this job and raising an alert for other plumbing vent snafus.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Plumbing drain or sewer gas odors: If you smell sewer gases in your building conditions could be dangerous (risking a methane gas explosion) or unsanitary. Also see REMEDIES for SEWER ODORS, PLUMBING

Watch out: Because sewer gas contains methane gas (CH4) there is a risk of an explosion hazard or even fatal asphyxiation. Sewer gases also probably contain hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) In addition some writers opine that there are possible health hazards from sewer gas exposure, such as a bacterial infection of the sinuses (which can occur due to any sinus irritation).

Depending on the sewer gas source and other factors such as humidity and building and weather conditions, mold spores may also be present in sewer gases.

Plumbing drain or fixture noises: Other advice about controlling plumbing noises in buildings is at DRAIN NOISES and at SOUND CONTROL for PLUMBING.

Photograph of a loose, improperly installed, slanted plumbing vent above the building roof Photograph of a plumbing vent terminating by a window Plumbing vent with collapsed top screen became blocked (C) Daniel Friedman Plumbing vent with screen reopened (C) Daniel Friedman Plumbing Vent leaks (C) Daniel Friedman Cheryl Lidawer Plumbing Vent leaks (C) Daniel Friedman Cheryl Lidawer Plumbing vent into attic (C) D Friedman C Lidawer

Troubles and mistaken sewer gas odor-sources along the way to finding this plumbing vent sewer gas leak problem included

Transite vent pipe clogged (C) Daniel Friedman

Plumbing vent line has been cut, releasing sewer gases in an attic (C) Daniel Friedman



Sewer vent by porch chair (C) Daniel Friedman

Original installation of plumbing vent stack flashing on a metal roof

Below are details from the original plumbing vent installation of a 3-inch ABS plumbing vent through a standing seam metal roof.

We had installed a conventional plumbing vent stack and boot (below left) along with a roof membrane, while waiting for the metal roof to arrive at the jobsite.

To properly seal the plumbing vent to the metal roof we replaced the shingle-roof type vent flashing with the white rubber flashing shown at below right. That flashing is sealed to the metal roof surface by both adhesive sealant and a ring of metal screws.

Temporary roof vent flashing while waiting for metal roof installation (C) Daniel Friedman Eric Galow Permanent roof vent flashing for metal roof installation (C) Daniel Friedman Eric Galow

Photos courtesy of Eric Galow, Galow Homes in Poughkeepsie, NY.

At below left you'll see that even with the plumbing vent stack broken and bent over nearly touching the roof surface, the rubber boot installed in the photos above managed to avoid a flood of melting snow into the roof cavity. This broken plumbing vent was caused by the property-owner's reluctance to finish the job of installing snow guards on the roof.

Details about the snow guard system and its proper installation (done after this damage occurred) are
at SNOW GUARDS on METAL ROOFS and step by step details of how we repaired this snapped-off plumbing vent without having to cut open the roof from above nor the cathedral ceiling from below are
at PLUMBING VENT REPAIR

Rubber boot keeps most water out of the roof cavity even with a broken roof vent stack pipe (C) Daniel Friedman

We discuss how to diagnose and cure drain sounds (gurgling, bubbling, smells, poor drainage)
at PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE DIAGNOSIS (gurgling drains means bad vent piping or clogged drains)
and
at CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR.

We discuss drainage for plumbing fixtures, such as loose toilets, as sources of sewer gas odors separately
at PLUMBING FIXTURE TRAPS.

Here are Copies of Plumbing Codes, Citations & Plumbing Code References

Watch out: while the 2015 IPC is the most-recent version of the International Plumbing Code, while the 2018 IPC is under development. To understand which generation of the model building code or plumbing code applies to your specific project you will need to check with your local building official. For example many jurisdictions are on the 2012 IPC or still older versions.

Article Series Contents

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Continue reading at PLUMBING VENT DEFINITIONS & CODES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR - home

Or see PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE DIAGNOSIS and also PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE REPAIR

Or see DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS

Or see PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE DIAGNOSIS

Or see PLUMBING SYSTEM NOISE DIAGNOSIS & CURE - home

Or see PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS - home

Or see PLUMBING VENT ODOR FAQs

Or see PLUMBING VENT REPAIR

Or see SEWER GAS ODORS

Suggested citation for this web page

PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES - home at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to PLUMBING SYSTEMS

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