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Air Lock in Waste Pipe? Here’s What to Do

Slow-draining sink drains and incomplete toilet flushes are classic signs of an air lock issue. Most air locks in plumbing drainpipes are caused by a lack of free-flowing air in the plumbing venting system. If you suspect this is the issue with your plumbing, you should have your system inspected by a professional plumber to avoid further issues and/or damage.  

What Is an Air Lock? 

So, what exactly is an air lock? An air lock is a pocket of air that gets trapped in a drainline. This is usually caused by a blocked vent pipe. This causes the air to get trapped in the pipe, causing an air lock that can restrict water flow and cause other plumbing problems. 

Signs of an Air Lock in Your Plumbing System 

Since you cannot physically see what’s in your plumbing drain lines, there are some other ways to determine if an air lock is causing your plumbing issues. Here are a few ways to confirm an air lock is the problem: 

  • Sluggish Drains: If you notice the drains in your home are not draining as quickly as they normally do this could be the result of an air lock. If air is trapped in your system, it may cause gurgling, or bubbling in your toilets.  

  • Incomplete Toilet Flush Cycle: If when you flush the toilet it does not flush completely, and water continues to swirl around in the bowl and goes down slowly, it is usually caused by an air lock. You may also notice some gurgling in a tub, shower, or sink. 

In both cases, a blocked air vent can cause these issues. If you live in a cold climate, in the winter, moist air moving in and out of the roof air vent can freeze at the opening and eventually build-up enough to seal off the vent. Also, small birds will sometimes build a nest in the vent opening, which, over time, can severely restrict the flow of air at the vent opening. 

Air Lock in Sump Pump 

If you have an air lock at your sump pump it can cause big issues that are costly to repair. If the air lock restricts the pumps’ ability to effectively move excess water away from your home’s foundation and basement floor, you could be in for some flooding and damage to your foundation. This problem can usually be resolved by drilling a relief hole in the discharge hose. To confirm the issue is resolved, pour some water in the crock or basin, to see if the air lock has been cleared.  

What to Do About Stubborn Air Locks 

An air lock in your drainline is usually not a serious problem if resolved quickly. However, some air locks are easier to clear than others. Ones that are harder to clear may require the help of a professional. If you’re dealing with an air lock in your system’s drain lines and you’re have trouble clearing it, contact the professionals who deal with it every day, your local Mr. Rooter. We’ll resolve your issue and can even check your entire system to ensure it’s working efficiently. To learn more, give us a call at 855.982.2028 or request an estimate today.