Vent Stacks Air Out Your Plumbing

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William Zwick

Subject: Washing machine draining problem.

Every other drain in my house, (built around 1950) works just fine, accept for the washing machine drain. It didn't start happening until about two years after we moved in. Every time it drains in between cycles, it overflows behind the washer and onto the floor. We've tried almost everything to unclog it. Nothing seems to work. Could it be the stack?

natalie walker

Subject: sewer smell

I have had a sewer smell on and off for about 5-6 years no one seems to know just were it's coming from. plumbers keep giving me maybe's I have had a trap put in my basement bathtub like the said that didn't work. I have brought solutions to pull down the drain. none of that worked I am lost can someone tell me what is going on please this odor is dangerous.

Lelia Goehring

Subject:

We had a sewer smell in our downstairs bathroom. Turns out our sink vent was on an exterior wall, and the siding nails had punctured it during construction. It took 14 years for the nails to rust away and for a smell to develop. We discovered the location of the leak by performing a smoke test.

Marilyn

Subject:

Our two-story central Indiana home has a couple of trees nearby -close enough to allow squirrels to jump onto the roof. Many years ago, we woke up to a strange scratching noise and finally went outside to see the rear end of a squirrel sticking up from the vent pipe. He was trying hard to get out, but eventually slipped in and we heard him going through the system for several hours while we tried to use only the plumbing that was below where he was at any given time. We hoped to get him out through the basement access to the sewer - probably a dumb idea. But it never happened since one of us forgot and flushed. Anyway, a simple $1 wire cage on top of the roof vent solved the problem for all time and I wondered why it wasn't put on in the first place. I think it was one of those cages that you sometimes see on the top of a downspout to keep the leaves out.

John Sprung

Subject:

Caps can't hurt, but I hardly ever see them here in L.A. It depends on your location, do you have overhanging trees? We've had migratory ducks in our swimming pool, but we've never seen geese here.

-- J.S.

Mark Cunningham

Subject:

J.S. - Thanks - there is no cap on the vent, so I'm wondering if it is crud or something larger - a critter, leaves, goose dropping. Should I put on caps? I'll get up and give it a shot before the snow falls...Thanks again.

John Sprung

Subject:

To Mark Cunningham -- Drain cleaner won't help. The problem is up in the dry part of the system, between the roof vent and the bathroom. You need to snake down the vent, or maybe just run water from the garden hose down the vent, to wash out the crud. I'd try the hose first, and go for the snake if that doesn't work. As a quick temporary solution, just run a little water in the sink when you're done with the shower, to re-fill the trap. That way, you can wait for good weather to go on the roof.

-- J.S.

jim ford

Subject:

in winter, when super cold, the moisture freezes at the top of the vent causing sewer smell and have not yet figured out how to stop it

Joann Goosen

Subject: freezing over of roof sewer vent

Saw your post and was wondering how you fixed the problem. We live in Montana and when it gets cold our sewer vent on the roof freezes over. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks

Mark Cunningham

Subject:

In the master bath, we got sewage smell from the sink after the shower is used. I used a 25-foot drill-powered snake on the tub and sink. Not much material came up bit it seemed to help. Now the smells are back. I checked the stacks on the roof - no obstructions visible up there, at least. Is cleaning with a drain cleaner going to help - or hurt - in this case? How strong? (The stuff I got says, "Concentrated sulfuric acid". Pretty strong stuff if I remember my high school chemistry. We are considering remodeling this bathroom (new shower enclosure, floor tile, cabinets, 2 sink vanity to one - and that might be the time to do any plumbing repairs, but I'd like to address the smell problem soon.

Jim Jernigan

Subject:

You left out a very important fact about sewer gas--it contains hydrogen sulfide which is a very dangerous gas. It smells badly but in small concentrations it can kill you! That is why it's the required by law.
Look it up.
Get your plumbing fixed ASAP.

Dale

Subject:

Royce
You need to have caps installed on the vent pipes in the roof wind is blowing down the pipe and drying out a trap

Bill Lockhart

Subject:

You can also get smell in the house if you have the problem we had in our new house, the (master) plumbers (grandfathered in, not by passing a program) didn't install any p traps. AND our construction manager never noticed it, nor did the county inspector!

Bob Seward

Subject:

I never saw a 4-inch vent; most I've seen are PVC around 2-inches. I would always penetrate roof for each individual. Never needed maintenance. On a re-roof in Texas, they painted the PVC for aesthetics.

Royce Hodge

Subject:

We live on the 21st of 22 floors in a Hi Rise that is 35 years old. We have sewer smell constantly in our baths and it doesnt seem to be from the toilet, sink, or shower. Really bad when wind is strong and from a certain direction. The Board of Directors can't seem to find the problem. Any suggestions?

John Sprung

Subject:

Every vent that goes through the roof is a potential roof leak. Code allows you to combine them in the attic and make only one hole in the roof. The plumber makes a little more money, and the roofer a little less, so it's close to a wash. And you can choose the least bad looking place for the one pipe.

There are many ways to get a sewer smell in the house. One is to have a clogged vent that lets one fixture, often a toilet, suck the trap dry in another, such as a sink, tub or shower. The trap has to have water in it to block the odors from farther down the sewer.

-- J.S.

Randy

Subject:

Vent stacks CAN prevent sewer smells, an improper vent system can cause the trap under a sink, tub, or shower to be sucked dry and allow sewer gases into your home.

Michelle Witt

Subject:

In older homes this can actually be a big problem. In my 1920's home I have had to replace the Kitchen stack as well as the main stack due to the the rusting and cracking of cast iron. Funny smells and the glug, glug symptoms are very helpful to diagnose this issue.

steve

Subject:

Your headline to the effect that plumbing vents prevent sewage smell is an extremely vast overstatement. All they do is allow air into the lines so waste water will flow. They DO NOT prevent sewage smell. The only way to have "sewer smell" get into a house is to have a broken sewer line somewhere within the house. If it is cracked at the top the odors can waft into the house, and if it is cracked on the bottom sewage can seep into the home. But the vents are entirely a system of their own.

BillyBarty

Subject:

Poorly installed vent stacks that "don't extend through the roof" can also allow vermin to come up from the sewer and into your attic. We found this out the hard (and disgusting) way.

Aaron Antis

Subject:

As a roofer and waterproofer these are a regular waterproofing item. Usually we recommend every 1-2 years you do maintenance on your roof and actually seal the connection between the pipe flashing and the pipe. Although this is a small penetration, leaks and degradation of the underlying roofing membrane do occur from them and do need to be maintained on a regular basis

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?
I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had


?
I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.


?
I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.
?

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.