What To Do

When Your Plumbing Vents Clog

winter plumbing issues

A properly functioning plumbing system is crucial to the overall health of your home. But it’s all too easy to overlook one of its most critical components: the venting system.

If you’re wondering what that even is, don’t feel too bad! Many people are unaware that their plumbing is accompanied by a venting system, and even those who are may not realize how problems can arise. We’ll guide you through all the basics of maintaining your plumbing’s vent system and keeping it free of clogs.

What are Plumbing Vents?

Plumbing vents are also known as “vent stacks,” or less flatteringly, “stink pipes.” These are the parts of your piping that run above the drain lines and extend all the way to your rooftop. They help regulate the air pressure in your plumbing system. Properly balanced air pressure allows for waste water to flow out efficiently and sewer gases to escape safely.

When these plumbing vents clog, it can lead to a host of issues that can be very unpleasant to deal with. Understanding how to identify and repair a clogged vent can save you from a lot of headache and expense.

Why Clogs Form

Clogs in venting systems usually result from a lack of maintenance or proper protections. Since the systems open at the top of your roof, it can be easy for leaf litter and other debris to fall in. Animals can even fall or climb down these pipes.

These potential clog causes and more are why it’s recommended to install vent guards (screens), and keep your roof clear. Having your system professionally inspected every year can also help catch problems before they grow.

Signs of a Clogged Plumbing Vent

Clogged plumbing vents are not always easy to identify, as the symptoms can often be mistaken for other plumbing issues. You’ll need to be on the lookout for some tell-tale signs, such as:

  • Slow Draining at Multiple Points: While slow draining is commonly an indication that a drain pipe is clogged, seeing a slowdown in more than one spot is a red flag. If multiple drains in your home are slow, it's more likely a vent issue that’s disrupting the air pressure.
  • Gurgling Sounds: Do you hear strange gurgles coming from your pipes? Perhaps when you flush your toilet, you hear gurgling in the sink or bath? These sounds are caused by air being forced through the water in your trap due to a lack of ventilation.
  • Foul Odors: A blocked vent can cause sewer gases to come up through your drains, resulting in quite a stink – and potentially causing health problems for your family.

Fixing a Clogged Vent

If you’ve verified that your issue lies in your plumbing vents, it’s possible to DIY the repair. Just note that this will require roof access, so you’ll need a stable ladder. There are a few steps you’ll need to follow for de-clogging:

  1. Inspect the Vent First, you’ll need to get a good look at what’s going on in your vent. Climb onto your roof, and look into the vent pipe. You will likely need a flashlight to get a clear view. If there's an obvious blockage from debris like leaves or a bird's nest, you may be able to remove it by hand.
  2. Use a Plumber's Snake If the clog isn't immediately visible or reachable, it’s time to reach for a plumber's snake (also known as a drain auger). Insert the end of the snake into the vent, and crank it to dislodge the clog. Pull the snake out occasionally to check if the clog has been removed.
  3. Flush the Vent If you’ve managed to dislodge the clog, it's a good idea to flush the vent with water to ensure it's completely clear. Using a garden hose, run water down the vent for a few minutes. If the water backs up, there may still be a blockage. You'll need to repeat the previous step until it drains smoothly.
  4. If you've tried the steps above without success, or if you're uncomfortable climbing up onto your roof, it's best to call in an expert. They have the tools and knowledge to safely handle the issue and get your vents back in shape.

Only Hire Professional Plumbers

In Indianapolis, countless homeowners have relied on Hamm and Sons Plumbing for vent declogging and other common repairs. Our professionals receive all of the specialized training needed to perform fixes quickly and efficiently, ensuring your plumbing system runs perfectly.

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