Years ago, someone told me that a bath tub with an overflow pipe was considered "self-venting". In other words, you didn't need an additional vent pipe because the overflow pipe served the same purpose. I've looked around online, and this certainly isn't acceptable practice now.

There is a question here about converting from a bath tub to a shower. I mentioned (in a comment) that there might be venting issues, but I don't know if it's actually true.

Is this a valid concern? Or have plumbing codes (in the USA) always required venting of bath tub drain lines?

  • 3
    The overflow tube on a bathtub enters above the trap so I don't know how it could be a vent for the sewer line below the trap. Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 0:29
  • Thanks, @JimStewart! Yeah, I understand why they're needed. I just wondered if they might not have been used back in the day...
    – bitsmack
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


I don't believe that the overflow was ever considered a vent for a bathtub.

The main purpose of the vent is to prevent the water in the trap from being sucked out when water runs through the trap. Therefore the vent must be located downstream of the trap. The exact location of the vent connection is determined by code and has changed over the years. However, the connection was never accepted upstream of the trap.

There was a time when every fixture was not required to be vented (there was also a time when there was no formal plumbing code) so I can’t say never, however, I can say that since traps were required to be vented, the requirement was downstream of the trap.

I’ve looked at the other question, and can say with confidence that the bathtub would have been required to be vented either individually or via a wet vent thought the bathroom sink.

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