What Are the Pipes on My Roof?
We see a lot of things on the roof of a house. Gutters, chimneys, sometimes solar panels, and pipes. It is obvious what the gutters, chimneys, and solar panels do, but what about the pipes? This may leave you wondering what are the pipes on my roof? Those pipes are plumbing vents. It makes sure that the plumbing works properly and keeps the methane gas out of the home. This is on all homes as it helps in preventing back ups, clogs, and sewer smells from entering the home.
Let’s take a look at why you need to know about the pipes on your roof, how the plumbing vent works, keeping the vent clog-free, signs of a clogged vent, other pipes seen on a roof, maintenance on the roof, and when to call a professional.
Why You Need to Know About the Pipes on Your Roof
You do need to know that there may be various pipes on the roof, they have an important purpose, and not there for decoration. This article will talk about the plumbing vent. It is important to keep the pipes clear of debris and clogging so there is no backup in the home, along with a smell.
How the Plumbing Vent Works
The plumbing vent is a pipe that runs vertically up through the walls of the home and out the roof. Connecting the drainage pipe of the plumbing system in the home, the pipe leaves the home and leads to the sewage pipe. The sewage pipe then connects to a septic tank or the public sewer system. This will depend if you have septic or sewer.
The purpose of the vent is to allow air to enter the drainage system. This then keeps the pressure even and allows the wastewater to flow out. The roof vent pipe helps regulate the pressure in the drainpipes and this allows wastewater from the home to flow out into the sewer. In the end, it eliminates the risk of methane gas from finding its way back into your home.
Keeping the Vent Clog Free
It is important that the vent does not clog. If it does, it will become smelly and messy in the home. Here are some reasons why the vent clogs and how to fix the problem:
Leaves and debris clog the entrance of the vent– Clean away any leaves or debris that are in, on, or near the pipe vent. If you don’t, they will clog the vent and cause a backup and smell in the home.
Bird nests or rodents can make nests or clog the entrance – Check to make sure these animals are not creating nests or getting trapped inside the vent. If there is, try removing it or contact a professional. Also, a professional can help clear the vent if it is stuck inside.
Humans may be blocking the vent – Having work done on your roof? A gentle reminder to the workers not to block the vent is a great idea.
Corrosion of the pipe – the pipe may become corroded and start to fall apart of break. This will be a good time to call a professional to fix it or add a new one .
Signs of a Clogged Vent
The signs of a clogged vent are much like ones you will find when there are broken pipes or clogged pipes inside the home. This is why it is important to investigate and possibly call a professional if you need assistance.
1. Gurgling Toilet
A gurgling toilet is one sign there may be a clogged pipe on your roof. This happens because the air that is coming through is reduced in the pipes. When you flush the toilet, it is competing against the pressure in the line and causes the toilet to gurgle. Here is a great way to think about this:
If you try to empty a milk jug by flipping it completely upside down you find that it gurgles and takes a while to drain. On the other hand, if you allow air to pass by adding a hole or pouring the milk slowly, the milk drains easily. Ultimately, you can see how water flows when air is able to get behind the milk versus when there is no way for air to reach behind the flowing milk. Vent pipes help do just that.
2. Slow Drains in the Sink or Bathtub
Now, a slow drain in the sink or bathtub could be many things like hair or other things clogging it. However, if you clean the drains out and find this is still happening, it can be a signal there is an issue with the vent pipes.
3. Dry P-traps
Having dry or missing P traps will lead to the methane gas escaping into the home and this can be hazardous to your health. This trap is located under the sink and also in the shower drain in the bathroom. As a result, it does a good job of keeping the sewer gases from getting into the home. Dry P traps can be due to the sink trap leaking so checking the connection under the sink is a good idea. Maybe it is the shower drain that smells? This can also be due to the P traps missing or dry or biofilm in the shower. Whatever it may be, taking care of it may solve your problem. If it does not, then it may be another area in the home that is causing the vent to clog.
You may also see dry P-traps in a home that has been vacant for a while. This is because there has not been water running through the system.
If there is a leak around the pipe, here is a great video about how to fix it:
Other Pipes On the Roof
There are often other pipes on the roof of a home, depending where you live. Some of those are:
- HVAC Vent Stack
This is for letting out the fuel that burns from the fireplace, burner, boiler, or water heater.
2. Small Box Vent
The small box vent is for the bathroom fan or the dryer. Cleaning the protective vent screen is important when maintaining this vent and think about adding a flap to make it more accessible. Add in cleaning the vent in the dryer to your maintenance once a year. In addition, there are different ways to clean the dryer vent that goes to the roof here.
3. Attic Fan
This is a fan that will pull the hot air along with condensation out of the attic. Attic fans work better in the southern states than colder and more northern states. However, in the cooler weather states, a whole house fan is the better choice as it can be used all year long.
Maintenance on the Roof
When keeping an eye on the vents on the roof, there are other things that you can make sure you are paying attention to. If you have solar panels, make sure they are in place, especially after bad storms.
If you have a chimney, take a look around it to make sure that the counter flashing was installed correctly. You also want to keep up with chimney maintenance during the warmer months to make sure the fireplace and chimney are ready for the colder temperature seasons that lie ahead.
If you have asphalt shingles on your roof, they combine nicely with the roof sheathing to provide protection against leaks. Lastly with maintenance, it is important to check there are no shingles missing or leaks into the house.
When to Call a Professional
Call a professional if you have questions about the pipes on top of your house or you are finding there is a back up in your home. It may not be easy to diagnose and a professional can help. Lastly, don’t let an issue go too long, get it solved and fixed quickly!
Roof pipes are essential for the home and need to be kept clean and clear in order to function properly. Those pipes control many things in the home and keeping them working is essential. Many things can stop working in the home so it is important to figure out why and fix them. The last thing you want is a high repair bill. Home Inspection Geeks can check your roof pipes when conducting a home inspection in the Chicago area.