Know the Warning Signs of Poorly-Vented Drain Lines in Your Building
Proper drainage is critical to removing dirty water, human waste, and other byproducts of everyday life in a commercial structure. Maintaining proper drainage also requires maintaining proper ventilation in your drain lines. The following information will help you understand drain ventilation and how you can tell if you have poorly-vented drain lines.
Drainage in Commercial Structures
Drainage in commercial (and residential) structures follows the same principle: gravity is used to pull wastewater and other material along the drain pipes and into the municipal sewer system or septic tank. This is in contrast to water supply systems that require pressure to bring water into the building.
Drain pipes are angled downward to aid water removal with the force of gravity. Ventilation in the drain pipes allows the natural pressure in the pipes to equalize and help push the wastewater and material along. Without the boost added by ventilation in the drainage pipes, the water would have to be siphoned out or removed by artificial means.
Signs of Poorly-Vented Drain Lines
Poorly-vented drain lines will not be able to effectively move wastewater and solid waste out of your building. This could lead to problems such as overflowing drains, backed-up toilets, and similar plumbing issues. Correcting the problem may be as simple as removing a clog in the drain line, but it could also require more substantial work to find and fix drain lines. Consult with our plumbing expert for advice and, if necessary, professional services.
- Slow drainage — Slow drainage is probably the most common sign of poorly-vented drain lines. If the water moves slowly from bathtub drains or bathroom sinks, the problem could be related to improper or inadequate venting. If your drains are emptying slowly, however, it may also indicate another issue, such as a clog or blockage somewhere along the drain line. Before taking any larger-scale measures to resolve a problem with venting and slow drainage, make sure you exhaust all other remedies for fixing a slow-moving drain.
- Gurgling sounds — Drainage is usually not accompanied by noises, so any sounds coming from your drain lines could be a sign of poor ventilation. Gurgling sounds are the most common indicator of a drain problem. If you hear these types of noises coming from the toilets in your building or from bathroom sink drains, it could mean there is a problem with venting in the pipes. The sound occurs because the restricted airflow in pipes make it difficult for the drain water and waste material to move through the drain lines.
- Bubbles in toilet bowl — Bubbles in the water that normally sits in your toilet bowl could mean a venting problem in the drain lines. These bubbles commonly form as the drain pipes try to get enough air to equalize internal pressure.
- Sewer odors — Drains in sinks and toilets are designed with a trap that holds a small quantity of water after the sink or toilet has been drained. This water creates a seal that prevents gases and odors from escaping the drain system and getting into your building, creating unpleasant smells. If there is not enough air pressure from the vent in the drain pipes, this water can be lost. If the traps go dry, there is nothing to block sewer odors from escaping into your building’s interior.
- Empty toilet bowls — If toilets do not refill after flushing, or if the level of water in the bowl or tank rises or falls suddenly, it could indicate venting problems in the drains. If there is not enough pressure in the drain lines, water in the toilet bowl or tank can flow away, resulting in inconsistent water levels.
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