Our founder, Austin Petersen, always used to explain plumbing this way: “Air goes UP, liquid and solids go DOWN.” If you keep this simple principle in mind, you can go a long way towards diagnosing many plumbing and drain problems.
A modern drain system consists of two parts, the actual drainage pipes that carry the liquids and solids down the drain, and a vent system (usually piped above the roof line) that allows air to enter and exit the system freely, equalizing the pressure throughout the system and allowing the water to flow smoothly downhill. Both parts of the system are important.
We recently got called to a job because their kitchen sink was “gurgling”. We looked at it and didn’t see any obvious blockage of the drainage system, so we started thinking outside the box. And indeed, when we climbed onto the roof, this is what we saw…
Somebody had capped off the vent pipe! The cap on the top of the vent pipe was preventing air from entering and exiting the system as the water went down the drain. As a result, instead of flowing smoothly, the liquid was surging and gurgling as the displaced air was forced to exit up from the same pipe the water was attempting to go down. The result was a slow, noisy drain. Not efficient, not pleasant to listen to, and hard on the drain system to boot, as the pipes rattled and surged at every use!
Luckily for our customer, it was a simple fix. We removed the cap from the vent, and re-tested the system. As we expected, everything flowed smoothly and efficiently. Another successful job and happy customer for Petersen Plumbing!
If your drains ever start gurgling, just give us a call at 541-343-9339. We’ll be glad to help you out!
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