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Windy Water

With storm Ciara dubbed as Britains ‘storm of the century’, how it will affect your plumbing might not be the first thing you think about, but just like cold and frosty weather, wind can have bizarre effects on your pipework.

Have you ever found yourself staring into your toilet bowl during a bout of bad weather and notice the water swirling around?

We’ve done some research to bring to you the weird and wacky things that wind does to our water systems.

Water levels dropping

Many plumbing issues that you notice during bad weather can be attributed back to the drain-waste-vent, or vent stack. The vent stack is designed to help sewage gases make their way outside and prevent toxic gases or unpleasant smells from coming back into the building. It also moves air from outside through your pipework to ensure smooth and effective draining of wastewater.

But how can the vent stack make the water levels drop in your toilet? This is due to reduced air pressure within the drainage pipe. Because the uppermost opening of the vent stack is exposed outside, fast winds can blow in through the vent stack opening and this decreases the air pressure in the drainage pipe.

Air and water and naturally drawn towards decreased pressure which means a suctioning effect takes place in your plumbing system, and ultimately lowers the water level in your toilet bowl.

Sloshy toilet water

In the same way that reduced air pressure can lower the levels in your water bowl, increased air pressure in your pipework can have the opposite effect. Calmer weather can result in this increased air pressure and therefore higher toilet water levels can occur. However, in a storm, where the wind speed increases and then dies down, the suction created in the pipework by the changing air pressure gets stronger and weaker and the water in the toilet bowl sloshes around accordingly.

Things get whiffy

A windy day coupled with some unpleasant smells can highlight underlying plumbing issues that you may not have been aware of. If you are noticing a foul odour coming into the building on especially windy days, the wax seal on your toilet might have failed. Although the vent-stack is responsible for removing nasty smells from your property and sending them outside, a gusty day may cause a downdraft from the vent pipe. There’s a wax seal installed at the bottom of your toilet to stop wastewater from leaking as it passes from the toilet into the drainpipe, but it also protects against foul sewer gas odours. Although a failing of your wax seal should increase odours permanently, a particularly windy day is likely to highlight the issue. These wax seals should really last the life of your toilet – around 20 to 30 years, but if you are worried, it might be worth checking this.

Colder tap water

You might have noticed that the water from your taps seems to be colder on a windy day, however what you’re noticing is likely just the speed at which it has cooled. The only effect that wind can have on the temperate of the water in your pipes is to reduce the amount of time it takes to reduce the temperature; however, it will not cool below the actual air temperature.