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What Happens When The Soil Vent Pipe Backs Up?

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If you notice a foul, sewer smell and brown gunk rising from the drain in your bathroom sink, you need to have a plumber check your soil vent pipe for blockages. The soil vent pipe is the drain line that receives and transports raw sewage from your home. It connects to pipe and drainage lines in your kitchen and bathroom. A number of things can block or damage the soil vent, including toys flushed down the toilet, wads of toilet paper and meat fat. Here's what happens when raw sewage leaves the soil vent pipe and what you can do temporarily until your licensed plumber arrives to fix it.

Why Does the Soil Vent Pipe Back Up?

The drainage lines of the bathroom sink and toilet connect together in your bathroom's flooring and walls. This close connection can create a host of plumbing issues when the soil vent pipe backs up from blockages or damages. One of the most bothersome and noticeable is a foul, sewer smell that rises out of the bathroom sink's drainage opening.

Your soil vent pipe usually keeps dangerous odors from seeping up into the bathroom with a venting system. The system uses traps to keep the odors contained inside the home's sewage system, but when backed up sewage places pressure on the traps, they burst open. As a result, you get an unpleasant scent in your bathroom.

The unpleasant scent isn't the only problem to worry about when the traps break open. You now have to contend with raw sewage that pushes up through your sink's drainage opening. The sewage is a combination of human waste, toilet paper, germs, and numerous other things. These things may appear in solid or liquid and sludge form, depending on when the soil vent pipe broke down.

Keep in mind that solid waste breaks down once it's exposed to water and bacteria. So, if the waste coming into your sink is solid, the damages in your soil vent pipe may be fairly new. If the waste is liquid, the damages most likely occurred over time. Liquid waste typically had time to travel through your sewer lines and into the city's waste water lines before it backed up into your bathroom.

In any case, both problems have serious consequences for your home's plumbing system and require immediate attention from your plumber. If you don't do something now, sewage can push through every drain line in your home. 

How Can You Temporarily Get Rid of the Bad Smell and Waste in Your Sink?

You can purchase drain cleaners, or you can make your own at home to clean up your sink temporarily. Making your own drain deodorizer and cleaner out of white vinegar and warm water can eliminate the problems without introducing harsh chemicals into your bathroom or plumbing system. Warm water won't damage your sink's pipeline and vinegar has microbial properties that reduce the presence of bacteria.

Follow the tips below to use your vinegar and water effectively:

  • Mix 4 cups of white vinegar with ½ gallon of warm water — use an empty gallon-sized milk or water jug for this
  • Pour the mixture down the drain slowly to keep it from splashing in your eyes
  • Wait 15-20 minutes for the vinegar to remove the scent and dark liquid or waste, then run the tap for 2-3 minutes to clean out the sink's pipeline and drain 
  • Put on a pair of gloves, then use a cleaning rag to clean the sink using warm water from the sink's tap

You can also add baking soda to the vinegar and water mixture if you want to really remove the bad scent. Once you clean the sink, try to use another location to cleanse your mouth or wash up. Remember, the sink's drain and pipeline still contains raw sewage that can endanger your health.

Your plumber, like one from Jim Dhamer Plumbing & Sewer, Inc., will check your bathroom's soil vent pipe and make the necessary repairs once he or she arrives.


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