Design Methodologies for Sizing of Drainage Stacks and Vent Lines in High-Rise Buildings

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Diameters for drainage stacks and vent lines within high-rise building drainage systems are determined by consulting building standard agencies’ design codes. While these are critical design decisions, codes are based upon dated research (1940s to 1970s), which has numerous inherent limitations, and the methodologies employed within the codes are unclear. Thus, a new methodology is presented which is based upon an analogy with other forms of multiphase flow transport systems. This methodology assumes, as a pre-condition, that flows of air and the flow of water within the stack are reasonably steady over time. Component diameters must then be chosen which ensure an acceptably large air supply or air–water flow ratio, and an acceptably small pressure excursion within the stack. Two ways to implement this methodology are presented: an ‘explicit approach’, in which component diameters are directly calculated using empirical correlations, and an ‘implicit approach’, in which component diameters are determined by iteration, using a hydraulic model. The methodology pre-conditions of the approach are then discussed. The physical geometry of the stack and branches tends to promote steady water flow but to render air flow very susceptible to temporary interruptions. A need to maintain the air pathway within high-rise drainage systems using components to supplement the air feed drawn in through the roof vent as required is highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1458
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2023


  • building systems design
  • design codes
  • design methodology
  • hydraulic modelling
  • inference
  • multiphase flow transport
  • two-phase annular flow


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