How does one test vent stack?


Been in my house for 30 years. The past year I've been getting an increase in a gurgling sound when some of the fixtures are used. Also, in a main floor wash room there is a near constant odor similar to sewer gas (I am on a septic system). My research indicates that I may have an obstructed waste venting but I have no clue as to how to check for that.
Before I am forced to hire a professional for this I am hoping I can receive some good advise and recommendations from this group.
So, . . . . .
Thanks -
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bobmct wrote:

Perhaps an eagle built its nest on top of your stack?
TDD
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I would go on the roof and look inside the vent pipe with a flashlight to look for blockages, and run a water hose to see if it flows ok.
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Yes pour some water down the vent and see if it drains quickly away. Also if the vent is straight down, poke a length of something down it. Make sure not to drop it (tie something to it?)! For example our vent system has one main (and straight down from the roof to the basement floor, of about 19 feet) 3 inch vent stack, with several branches coming into it within the attic/roof space. Did this to avoid several separate vents sticking up through the roof for a) Kitchen b) Bathroom etc.
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PS. Been that way for 40 years; initially for a septic system now on municipal connection.
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terry wrote:

Or, let "it" be made of ice.
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Gurgling and odor sound like the traps, in one non used bathtub in one bathroom my tub gurgles when I flush that toilet when its dry, any trap lets in odor when its fully dry so I just pour in a few cups of water when it gurgles, fill traps, then if it happens in a few days maybe trap is rusted, leaking, and now dry. Odors are often caused by bad toilet wax rings never properly set, I have a few that needed special double rings after i put in new floors, the floor was raised but not the toilet flange. so I would consider all traps first. Can you look under traps for signs of leaks. On the vent put a garden hose in it from the roof the water weight can clear obstructions, but that would be last. Ive never had a bad vent, but alot of bad toilet wax rings and rusted leaking traps.
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On Sat, 24 Apr 2010 04:03:25 -0700 (PDT), ransley

Thank you and the other responders. It did turn out to be a dry trap in a rarely used whirlpool tub. I'll just have to remember to refill it when I start to hear the gurgle(s) again...
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On 4/23/2010 9:29 PM, bobmct wrote:

In my old house, which was about 30 years old at the time, gurgling started. Shortly after we got backup from the basement floor drain when emptying any sink at that end of the house. I rented a power auger and attempted to clean out the drain pipe. BTW, under the basement floor the drain was all cast iron. The auger went through fine, but the backup persisted. So I called a plumber. He did exactly the same thing that I did, however, he was successful in opening whatever was there and charging my a few hundred dollars for his time. He thought is was rust buildup in the pipe. He said that after that many years the 4" pipe might be reduced to only 2" or less due to buildup. The strange thing is that I actually used an auger with a larger diameter boring tool on the end, than he did. If this would ever happen again, I would get a heavy spring and mount it perpendicular to the auger. This way it could collapse when entering a, say 2" line, and open in the 4" line, thus scrapping the sides.
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Vents are tested with smoke. The smoke is blown into the drain at a low point and should only exit the pipes through the roof vent. Smoke anywhere else indicates a failure of the venting system.
The methods already posted by others are about as good as you will be able to do.
Do add water to all the traps. We have to do that a few times per year especially in our unused guest bath.
The broken wax ring is the first suspect for the smell after an unfilled trap.
Colbyt
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Right smoke, I forgot, a plumber wanted to drop a smoke bomb down the pipe to find "The Leak" but he wanted to bust open walls that were wallpapered to look, so luckily mine was the toilet wax ring and I saved the walls, but a smoke bomb should do it too if needed.
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