Is an air admittance valve (AAV) illegal by code?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Air admittance valves are approved by the International Residential Code (IRC), which is used in most areas of the country with only minor modifications, but not code approved in a few jurisdictions. One is shown above, and they are designed to open and admit air into a sink drain line when there is negative pressure (suction) in the pipe, which allows the drain to flow freely without gurgling for air. The one-way vent only allows air into the system for drainage, then closes to keep sewer gas from escaping out into a home. When the location of a plumbing fixture makes it difficult to run a regular (passive) vent pipe through the roof this type of vent is an alternative solution.

   There is also a similar, but older, system that is spring-loaded and allowed in mobile/manufactured homes under the jurisdiction of HUD, but not site-built homes. It is shown below and correctly called a mechanical vent, auto vent, in-line vent, or check vent.   The air admittance valve design utilizes a rubber-like membrane that flexes to allow air into the drain system. It is sometimes referred to by the acronym AAV. The Studor Corporation is the largest manufacturer of AAVs, so they are often referred to as Studor® vents or Studor® valves. 

    Two requirements for correctly installing an AAV are that it must a minimum of 4” above the fixture drain and readily accessible. Although they are rated for a minimum of 500,000 open-and-close cycles, which is approximately 30 years of usage, they do fail eventually and, occasionally, prematurely; so it’s important to be able to get to the AAV to change it out. They have a screw fitting, so switching out a dead air admittance valve is an easy plumbing chore.

    Air admittance valves can also be installed in an attic, but must be 6-inches or more above the insulation. Because an AAV requires negative pressure to open, it cannot be installed to vent a sump pump, which generates positive air pressure when operating. Also, a home’s plumbing drainage cannot rely entirely on AAVs; a minimum of one vent through the roof is required by the building code. 

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING PIPES:

How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?

Can galvanized steel pipe still be used for new water lines in a house? 

How can I tell if I have cast iron pipes in my house? 

Why can't a sanitary tee be used for a horizontal-to-horizontal drain pipe connection? 

What is the difference between green and white sewer drain pipes?

Is a washing machine drain hose required to be secured at the standpipe?

What are the abandoned pipes sticking out of the wall in my house?  

What are the code requirements for plumbing vent terminations?

What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?

What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains? 

What is a "combination waste and vent" in a plumbing system? 

What is a building trap?  

What is a galvanized nipple?

What are the pipes sticking out near my water valves?

How do you accurately find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

What is the difference between water pipe and sewage (waste) pipe? 

Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water? 

Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left? 

What is a dielectric union? 

What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater? 

If all the plumbing drains have water in them and you can still smell sewer gas, what's causing the problem?  

How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

Why is there a flexible accordion pipe under the sink? 

What is the difference between PVC and ABS plumbing pipe?

What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe? 

What are the pipes on my roof? 

• How can I find out what type of water pipe runs underground from the water meter to the house (service pipe)?

What is a P-trap?

Why is old galvanized steel water pipe a problem for homebuyers?

What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem? 

• Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable?

• Can you connect CPVC pipe directly to a gas water heater?  

     Visit our PLUMBING page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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