The plumbing vent serves an important role in your home by regulating the airflow inside your pipes. As water flows through your pipes, it creates a vacuum. If there was no air flowing into the plumbing system, this vacuum would prevent water from flowing. The plumbing vent allows air into the system to overcome the vacuum and force the water through the pipes. It also allows any sewer gases left behind in the pipes to flow out of the building.
This vent pipe is usually located on the roof, which means it can easily become clogged with dirt and debris. If the vent is clogged, it can create numerous issues and prevent your plumbing system from working properly. With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about how a plumber cleans a clogged vent as well as how to spot the signs that your vent is clogged.
How a Plumbing Vent Is Cleaned
If your plumbing vent is clogged, you should always hire a licensed plumber to clean it for two main reasons. The first is that cleaning the vent involves climbing on the roof, which can obviously be dangerous and especially so if your roof has a steeper slope. The other reason is that the vast majority of people don’t have the tools or knowledge required to properly ensure the vent is cleaned.
After climbing on the roof, the first thing that the plumber will do is place their hand so that it fully covers the vent pipe. They will then have another person inside the building flush a toilet. This allows them to check whether the vent is actually clogged or if your plumbing problems are caused by some other issue.
When you flush a toilet, it draws air in through the plumbing vent. This creates suction inside the pipe. If the plumber doesn’t feel suction on their hand when the toilet is flushed, this indicates that the pipe is clogged.
If the vent is clogged, they will then run a plumbing snake down the length of the pipe until they reach the clog. Once the clog is reached, the plumber will continue to turn the auger until it is past the clog. The snake is then retracted to pull out the clog. It will usually be necessary to repeat this process a few times to fully remove the clog.
In some cases, it may also be necessary to use a garden hose to flush any remaining debris out of the pipe to ensure it is fully clear. However, this should only be done after cleaning out as much debris as possible. If not, all that debris will flow into your pipes and could clog your plumbing system.
The last step is to check to make sure that air can now flow through the pipe. This is again done by flushing a toilet and checking for suction in the vent.
If your plumbing vent does not have a cap, you will definitely want to have the plumber install one. This will prevent debris from getting inside so that the vent doesn’t get clogged again. Now that you know how a plumbing vent is cleaned, let’s look at the ways you can tell when your vent is clogged.
Sewage Backups and Drain Issues
Many of the signs of a clogged plumbing vent can also occur due to a clogged drain or blockage in your main sewer line. This is why it is always necessary to make sure that a clogged vent is the cause before doing anything else.
If your plumbing vent is clogged, the vacuum inside the pipes can cause water to get trapped inside of them instead of draining out through your sewage line. Since the water has nowhere else to go, it will eventually start to back up inside your sinks and drains. If you have wastewater backing up inside the house, this indicates that either the plumbing vent or sewer line is clogged.
A clogged plumbing vent can also cause your water to drain much more slowly than normal. If the problem only occurs in one drain, this indicates that it is clogged. However, if all of your drains are slow, this is typically related to a clogged plumbing vent or sewer line.
Both of these issues can also result in gurgling noises whenever you flush your toilet or put any water down the drain. If you hear a gurgling noise in your pipes, it usually indicates that not enough air is getting inside them because the vent pipe is partially clogged. Again, this issue can also happen as a result of a partially clogged pipe or drain.
Sewage Odors Inside Your Home
Another sign that your plumbing vent is clogged is obvious sewage odors inside the house—especially near your drains. Methane, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and other sewer gases are always present inside your plumbing system. The vent helps to exhaust these gases out of the house, but some will always remain in the pipes. The reason you never smell them is that most of your drains have a P-trap.
The P-trap is a U-shaped pipe that sits directly below the drain. A small amount of water always remains inside the bend at the bottom of the pipe. This works to create a seal that traps sewer gas inside the pipe and prevents it from flowing back up through the drain. Air pressure inside the pipe pushes against the water, which holds it in the trap.
If the vent pipe is clogged, it reduces the air pressure inside the pipes. This results in the water draining out of the P-trap. When the P-trap is empty, all of the sewer gases can then freely flow back up the drain.
Empty Toilet Tanks
One sign that is a sure indication of a clogged plumbing vent is if your toilet tank is empty or won’t refill after flushing. Your toilet drain is similar to a P-trap. Water collects inside the bend in the drain, and the air pressure on the opposite side of the trap prevents it from draining. If no air can get into the system because the vent is clogged, there won’t be sufficient air pressure inside the pipe to prevent the toilet from draining.
Professional Plumbing Services in Virginia Beach
If you notice any issues that indicate your plumbing vent is clogged, the experienced plumbers at [company_name] are here to help. Our licensed plumbers can inspect your drain pipe to determine if it is clogged or if the issues you’re experiencing are related to a clogged drain or some other issue. If the vent is clogged, we can clean it to make sure your plumbing system works properly. We can also repair the plumbing vent if it is broken or not properly installed.
If the issues are caused by a clogged drain or sewer line, we also specialize in drain cleaning. We have more than 40 years of experience providing professional plumbing services in the Virginia Beach area, and our team is available 24/7 for any plumbing emergencies. To schedule an appointment to have your plumbing vent inspected, give us a call today. We also offer heating and cooling repairs, installation, and maintenance, as well as electrical services.