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Mapping sewer pipes

Posted by b-unicycling on 18 July 2023 in English. Last updated on 3 August 2023.

I had added the odd sewer pipe using man_made=sewage_vent, because I had spotted some and was curious what they were. But someone in the Irish community had pointed out the under-documentation of man_made tags, so I did a bit of work, looked it up on wikidata and decided to go for man_made=sewer_vent instead. (I thought that man_made=sewer_ventilation_pipe was a bit long.) I retagged the existing ones which weren’t many anyway and added a few more from Wikimedia, especially in England, where many were covered by and one particular user (Rodhullandemu) especially. Sewer pipe on Regent Road By Phil Nash from Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some in Ireland and in England are listed monuments, believe it or not.

Because I had noted the manufacturer for the three in Freshford, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, two of which are listed, I started looking into documenting the manufacturer, and the same ones seemed to pop up on Wikimedia, at least where they were recorded.

So, I think it would be really cool to map the manufacturer and create wikidata entries (I’ve done so for some), because then we can have a colour-coded map of the sewer ventilation pipes highlighting the manufacturer. I think it would be interesting to see the distribution.

I’ve made an overpass query with colour codes for the manufacturers I’ve found so far.

If anyone has the ability to make a more user friendly map as an exercise, please do and let me know.

Sewer gas vent by Chris Marsh, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If anyone lives near one of these with the weather vane and crown, for example, I’d love to find out who made them. There are quite a few of them documented on WikiMedia, but nobody has taken the time to note the manufacturer.

I think it’s interesting to see the industrial history of Ireland and Britain represented in that way. Of course, manhole covers and post boxes could be included as well, since they were often made in the same foundries.

Edit 2023-07-20: I’ve added some “mad” nano tagging to the wikipage, just because we have the potential, and the Building of Ireland (misleading title) website describes the shape of the base (and top, but I haven’t gotten around to that) and sometimes give manufacturer, but you cannot filter by the terms. We now can.


Comment from Sam Wilson on 19 July 2023 at 00:48

Another possible tagging would be pipeline=vent, such as on this heritage-listed vent.

Comment from Kovoschiz on 19 July 2023 at 12:17

Would agree it should use pipeline= similar to =surge_tank if it’s a pipe. But the public sewer mains itself is a culvert; and usually in partially filled open-channel flow (with free surface), not fully filled pipe flow. pipeline= means equipment on a pipe, not that the feature is a pipe.

Comment from b-unicycling on 19 July 2023 at 15:24

As a non-native English speaker, I would expect a vent to be vertical and a pipe to be horizontal. I was also going by what they are called on wikidata. One of the more recently produced ones (c.2020) had a sticker “vent shaft” on them even. Jackson's vent shaft maker's mark

Comment from Sam Wilson on 20 July 2023 at 05:27

I think man_made=sewer_vent is perfectly good too, and it does seem about as used as the other. Especially for these more significant ones (it looks like there’s a cluster of them in Canada, but maybe those are more like small pipes in a larger installation, because there’s a bunch close together).

Maybe the plumbers of the world make a distinction between the vent (the bit where the gas comes out at the top) and the shaft? I used to work with electricians who were scathing of anyone calling the whole light-and-pole structure a “streetlight” when obviously it was a streetlight on top of a pole. I’m glad OSM isn’t going that pedantic… yet. :-)

Comment from InsertUser on 20 July 2023 at 11:00

I’d read something about these ages ago and did a search for the older term used in that.

According to that there are a few tags that have been used for “stink pipes”.

The most common tag under this name seems to be mand_made=stink_pipe but it only has three uses.

My regex isn’t good enough to get overpass to show them all, but there might be a few more in that taginfo search to get under harmonised tagging.

Comment from SK53 on 22 July 2023 at 21:09

You also see vents on former brownfield sites which are required to ensure any unpleasant or dangerous gases are not released into buildings. There are quite a lot of these present now where the land has been redeveloped. Vents are also present in areas with high levels of radon from radioactive decay in the underlying rocks.

I’ve always wondered if this metal pole is a vent of some kind:

Curious metal pole, Lime Tree Avenue - - 4833339

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