6 and a Half things You Probably Didn’t Know about Your Plumbing System

6 and a Half things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Plumbing System


richmond home inspector explains plumbing1. The trap beneath the sink is not for your expensive jewelry. Although this is a much appreciated secondary benefit to your sink traps, this is not the intended purpose. Your sink drains are connected to the sewer which means noxious sewer gasses have direct access to your home. The gasses can make you sick, and some are explosive. The traps actually collect and hold water that acts as a seal that the gasses can’t pass through. This also stops icky creepy sewer crawlers from going up your sink as well.

1b. The water seals can evaporate. If you have a bathroom that you don’t use frequently, a floor drain that hardly gets used, or a drain that only gets used during certain times of the year, the water seal in the trap can evaporate. This of course allows the sewer gasses into your home. If any of these scenarios exist in your home, we recommend having a qualified plumber install a trap primer, that will automatically refill the water seal. Alternatively, you could set yourself a reminder to fill the trap with water, or pour mineral oil into the trap that reduces the chance for evaporation.

2. Those white pipes sticking out of your roof are plumbing vents. You know that thing you with your straw? You know…when you put your straw in your drink, place your finger on top, pull the straw out of the drink and watch in amazement as the soda stays in the straw. Releasing your finger allows air into the straw and the soda flows back into the cup. The plumbing vents on your roof allow air into your plumbing system so the water can flow into the sewer pipes. Without them, water and waste would drain slowly. They also allow the noxious sewer gasses a place to escape since you are trapping them at your fixtures.