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Drainage, Wastewater, and Vent Systems
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


A home's drainage system relies on gravity to carry wastewater away. The system consists of drainage, wastewater, and vents (DWV). Within this system, several components are used to move and dispose of waste to the sewer or septic line in the basement. Gravity is responsible for carrying the waste used in the sinks, toilets, and tubs through a network of increasingly larger drainpipes.

Drainpipes can be made of galvanized caste iron, which you'll find in older homes, or they are made from PVC. Drainpipes in newer homes are made PVC because it doesn't clog as easily. Drainage pipes from all of the appliances lead to the waste stack. Gravity is used to push waste water down vertically placed drainpipes which lead to the waste stack. The waste stack connects to the main sewer or septic line. The other end of the waste stack connects to the roof vents.

The venting system is an important component of waste drainage. It includes the vents in which gas pressure escapes. Without vents, the sewer gas pressure building up would overcome the system. The venting system is also responsible for relieving the air pressure so that waste water can drain properly. Venting pipes are connected to the drainpipes and they extend up through the roofs of houses. Often times, there are more than one rood vent per house.

In addition to vents, “traps” are another essential component. During the process of waste disposal, waste decomposes in the sewer line. As it decomposes, toxic gases are produced. Traps are responsible for holding water which prevents sewer gas from entering a room. They act as the barrier between the sewer gas held in the drain and your house. Keep in mind, if you don't use a drain for two to three weeks, the water may simply evaporate causing sewer odors.

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