Have you ever wondered why your toilet always smells after flushing? The answer lies within the drain-waste-vent (DWV) system. This simple plumbing fixture helps prevent sewer gas from escaping into your home.
Every time you flush the toilet, water flows through the pipes under the floor and out the vent pipe. If the vent pipe isn’t properly connected or sealed, it allows air to enter the sewer line. This causes sewer gas to build up inside the pipe, which then travels back up into the house.
Toilets are designed to trap sewer gas, but sometimes they don’t seal completely. This is called a leaky DWV. When this happens, you’ll notice a foul odor emanating from the toilet bowl.
The drain waste vent system consists of three components: the vent pipe, the vent cap, and the vent valve.
Your vent pipe runs from the main drain in the bathroom down to the sewer line. It’s made of metal and has an opening at both ends.
A vent cap sits over each end of the vent pipe. They’re made of plastic and have a rubber gasket that fits tightly against the pipe.
A vent valve controls whether the vent pipe can be opened or closed. It’s usually located on the wall near the toilet. You turn it by hand to open or close the vent pipe.
When you flush the toilet, the tank fills with water. As the water rises, it pushes the plunger down into the tank. The plunger strikes the ballcock, which opens the water supply valves and sends water rushing through the pipes.
The water rushes through the pipes and out the vent pipe, where it meets the sewer line. The pressure of the flowing water forces any sewer gas trapped in the pipes to escape through the vent pipe.
If the vent pipe isn’t connected correctly, air enters the sewer line and builds up inside the pipes. This creates a vacuum, which sucks more air into the pipes. Eventually, the air becomes so thick that it stops flowing through the pipes and backs up into the toilet bowl.
Drain waste vent systems work best when they’re installed correctly. To ensure proper installation, follow these steps:
Before installing a new drain waste vent system, check for leaks around the toilet. Turn off all power to the building and locate the shutoff valve. Open the valve and let the water run until the toilet bowl drains completely.
First, remove the old vent cap and replace it with one that matches the size of the existing pipe. Then, install the new vent pipe. Make sure it’s snugly fitted into the hole in the ceiling.
Next, attach the vent caps to the ends of the vent pipe using a plumber’s putty. Use a wrench to tighten them securely.
Test your drain waste vent system by flushing the toilet. If there’s no smell after flushing, you’ve successfully installed the drain waste vent plumbing system.
Drain waste vents prevent sewer gases from escaping into the home. These gases include methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and other odors.
Sewer gas is harmful because it contains bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals. When these chemicals enter the house, they cause health problems such as nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, skin rashes, and eye irritations.
Sewer gas also causes structural damage to the home. For example, it may corrode metal pipes and lead pipes. In addition, sewer gas may crack concrete foundations and weaken walls.
To test the drain waste vent system, use an odor detector. Place the detector near the toilet and check it every few hours. If the detector doesn’t detect any smells, then the drain waste vent is working properly.
If the detector detects strong smells, however, then you need to repair or replace the drain waste vent system.
There are two types of DWV pipe sizes:
1. Standard DWV Pipes – DWVs come in three standard sizes:
• 12 inches
• 14 inches
• 16 inches
2. Larger DWV Pipes – Larger DWVs can be used for homes with larger toilets. They typically have a diameter of at least 24 inches.
Problems with drain waste vents usually occur during construction or remodeling projects. Here are some common problems:
• The drain waste vent pipe is too small. It should fit tightly into the hole in the roof.
• The vent pipe has been damaged. Repairing the pipe will help keep it from leaking.
• The vent pipe was not attached properly.
• The vent cap does not seal well.
Replacing a drain waste vent is recommended once the following conditions exist:
• The toilet is more than 10 years old.
• There is excessive noise coming from the toilet.
• The toilet is clogged frequently.
• The toilet overflows often.
• Odor is detected when flushing the toilet.
Installing a new drain waste vent takes about 30 minutes. However, this time varies depending on the type of vent and how much work needs to be done.
To install a new drain waste vent, follow these steps:
1. Remove the existing vent pipe. This step may require removing the toilet tank.
2. Cut the vent pipe to size.
3. Attach the vent pipe to the roof using screws, nails, or adhesive.
4. Cover the vent pipe with flashing.
5. Attach the vent cap.
6. Flush the toilet to make sure that the drain waste vent works properly.
7. Seal the vent pipe by applying caulk around the edges.
8. Test the vent cap to ensure that it seals properly.
9. Clean up the area where the vent pipe was installed.
10. Reinstall the toilet tank.
A drain waste vent system helps prevent sewer gases from entering your home. These gases contain germs, bacteria, and other contaminants. When these chemicals enter your home, they cause health problems.
For example, they may cause nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, skin rashes, coughing, sore throats, eye irritation, and respiratory infections.
Sewer gas also damages property. For example, it can corrode metal pipes and weaken walls.
In addition, sewer gas may leak through cracks in the floor or ceiling. Sewer gas leaks can damage floors, ceilings, paint, furniture, carpet, and woodwork.
In addition, if you live in a flood zone, you could face serious financial consequences. Floods caused by sewer gas leaks can cost homeowners thousands of dollars.
An exterior drain waste vent is located outside the house near the foundation wall.
Exterior drains and waste vents are easier to clean because they are exposed to air. They also provide better ventilation.
Exterior drain waste vents are generally less expensive than interior drain waste vents. An interior drain waste vent is located inside the house near the toilet bowl. Interior drain waste vents are usually more expensive than exterior drain waste vents. They are harder to clean because they are enclosed. In addition, they do not provide as good ventilation.
If water accumulates in your basement, crawl space, garage, or attic, you should call a professional plumber immediately.
However, if you have an emergency, here’s what you need to know:
- You must remove all the water before calling a plumber. If you don’t, he will charge extra for the job.
- You should use a bucket, plastic container, or garden hose to collect the water. Do not pour the water into a sink or tub. Doing so could result in clogs.
- When you’re finished collecting the water, put down towels or blankets to absorb any remaining moisture.
- Use a flashlight to inspect the flooring. Look for wet spots. If you find any, wipe them dry.
- Use a broom to sweep away any dirt on the floor.
- Once you’ve cleaned the floor, empty the bucket or container.
- Do Not Leave Wet Flooring!
1. Make sure that there are no obstructions between the toilet and the vent pipe.
2. Install the vent pipe at least 12 inches above the ground.
3. Use a level to check the height of the vent pipe. It should be about 6 inches higher than the top of the toilet.
4. Check the location of the vent pipe every time you move the toilet.
5. Check the location of each vent pipe once a year.
6. Keep the vent pipe free of debris.
7. Clean the vent pipe regularly with soap and warm water.
8. Never place hot objects directly over a vent pipe.
The best way to prevent sewer gas from entering your home is to install a proper drainage system.
Your local plumbing company can help you choose the right type of drainage system for your home.