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Frozen plumbing vents

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[#1] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 5:47:20 PM
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This forum is my new best friend!

A house I inspected today was winterized (so the water was obviously off.) All of the plumbing vents at the roof were frozen shut (covered completely with ice inside the vent.) Is this ok when the house is winterized and not in use?
Yes, the vents were proper size (diameter and height.) But its been REALLY cold here, so its a common problem.

My gut says no, its not ok, especially since all the sinks have S traps, but I wanted to hear your opinion.

Thank you all who respond!

Jodi
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#2] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 6:15:45 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by jodil

This forum is my new best friend!

A house I inspected today was winterized (so the water was obviously off.) All of the plumbing vents at the roof were frozen shut (covered completely with ice inside the vent.) Is this ok when the house is winterized and not in use?
Yes, the vents were proper size (diameter and height.) But its been REALLY cold here, so its a common problem.

My gut says no, its not ok, especially since all the sinks have S traps, but I wanted to hear your opinion.

Thank you all who respond!


If the house is properly winterized, there's antifreeze in each fixture trap. With the vents frosted over, any pressure on the sewer side will cause the traps to burp sewer gas into the house. That's probably a bad thing.

I'd think that in ND your vents would be oversized at the point where they pass through the roof. Are the frosted-up vents 3" in diameter?

This is just one more reason why it's a bad thing for houses to be vacant.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Jim Katen, Oregon
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#3] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 6:21:02 PM
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Jodi's a posting machine now, Jodi is.
Well it's only smart, if such a fabulous resource is available, to use it. Good for you.

I can't think of any other harm that might come from the frozen-over vent pipes, other than possibly cracking the pipes themselves (swelling from the inside?).

We don't have that particular issue in Mississippi.

Brian G.
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#4] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 6:30:24 PM
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Yes, the vents were actually 4 " in diameter. The toilets all had pink liquid in them, I assume this was the antifreeze? The more I think about it, winterization and blocked vents really dont have much to do with eachother. If the vents are blocked the gas is going to try and get into the house whether the traps are filled with antifreeze or water..




Quote: Originally posted by Jim Katen

Quote: Originally posted by jodil

This forum is my new best friend!

A house I inspected today was winterized (so the water was obviously off.) All of the plumbing vents at the roof were frozen shut (covered completely with ice inside the vent.) Is this ok when the house is winterized and not in use?
Yes, the vents were proper size (diameter and height.) But its been REALLY cold here, so its a common problem.

My gut says no, its not ok, especially since all the sinks have S traps, but I wanted to hear your opinion.

Thank you all who respond!


If the house is properly winterized, there's antifreeze in each fixture trap. With the vents frosted over, any pressure on the sewer side will cause the traps to burp sewer gas into the house. That's probably a bad thing.

I'd think that in ND your vents would be oversized at the point where they pass through the roof. Are the frosted-up vents 3" in diameter?

This is just one more reason why it's a bad thing for houses to be vacant.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Jodi
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#5] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 7:12:40 PM
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We had one winter that lotsa plumbing vents had ice plugs form.

I suggested folks install a tee, connect the dryer vent and run a load when you need a defrost.

Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#6] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 7:15:49 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by jodil

Yes, the vents were actually 4 " in diameter. The toilets all had pink liquid in them, I assume this was the antifreeze? The more I think about it, winterization and blocked vents really dont have much to do with eachother. If the vents are blocked the gas is going to try and get into the house whether the traps are filled with antifreeze or water..


So is this a common thing in ND? If the house were occupied, would the heat from the waste water be enough to keep the vents open?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Frozen plumbing vents
[#7] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 7:23:22 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by inspecthistoric

We had one winter that lotsa plumbing vents had ice plugs form.

I suggested folks install a tee, connect the dryer vent and run a load when you need a defrost.
Note for rookies: Sometimes some of the old timers here will make tongue-in-cheek comments, so be very careful to ensure the comment makes perfect sense before you accept it as gospel.

We now return you to your normal discussion channel.

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Frozen plumbing vents
[#8] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 7:49:51 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by hausdok

Note for rookies: Sometimes some of the old timers here will make tongue-in-cheek comments, so be very careful to ensure the comment makes perfect sense before you accept it as gospel.

We now return you to your normal discussion channel.

Relax Mike, my animated avatar is fair warning that anything I post should not be taken seriously.

Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#9] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 8:47:04 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by inspecthistoric

Quote: Originally posted by hausdok

Note for rookies: Sometimes some of the old timers here will make tongue-in-cheek comments, so be very careful to ensure the comment makes perfect sense before you accept it as gospel.

We now return you to your normal discussion channel.

Relax Mike, my animated avatar is fair warning that anything I post should not be taken seriously.

By the way Bill--
Re your avatar:
Are you the slapper or the slappee?

Kevin

"Politicians are interested in people. Not that it is always a virtue; fleas are interested in dogs." P.J. O'Rourke

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[#10] Posted: 02/11/2008 - 9:10:51 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by AHI in AR
[brBy the way Bill--
Re your avatar:
Are you the slapper or the slappee?

I'm the latter. The one on the right is my wife.

Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#11] Posted: 02/12/2008 - 5:50:16 PM
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I've seen 4 inch vents blocked with frost. I believe that if the weather's severe enough it can push any home beyond its expected limits. Personally, I'd let it slide.
Eric Barker
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Frozen plumbing vents
[#12] Posted: 02/12/2008 - 8:15:49 PM
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I agree w/Eric. 4" vents get frosted up all the time around here. I've seen 5" and 6" vents in large multifamily apartment buildings sealed up w/frost & ice. What are you going to report? The vents in a 80 year old building are too small, and the entire building has to have new 10" vents?

There's certainly the possibility of some sewer gas burping into the house under certain conditions if the house was occupied. If the house was vacant, I can't imagine that happening, though.

Vacant houses create their own weird little microclimates, and bad things can happen. I think it's poor practice to leave a house unoccupied and unheated above the 40th parallel; it gets too darn cold.

Kurt in Chicago

"If I smell it, it goes in the report".............Phillip Smith...2012


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Frozen plumbing vents
[#13] Posted: 02/29/2008 - 06:59:20 AM
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No Jim not all the time. When I was growing up, I had to crawl onto the roof mnay nights to ice pick my way through the vents. The whole house would smell like dog shit, so we knew. It usually only happened though when the temp outside was -15 or colder.


Quote: Originally posted by hausdok

Quote: Originally posted by inspecthistoric

We had one winter that lotsa plumbing vents had ice plugs form.

I suggested folks install a tee, connect the dryer vent and run a load when you need a defrost.
Note for rookies: Sometimes some of the old timers here will make tongue-in-cheek comments, so be very careful to ensure the comment makes perfect sense before you accept it as gospel.

We now return you to your normal discussion channel.

Jodi
   
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