4 Simple Steps to Clean Bathroom Vent Pipe

Are your bathroom drains underperforming? It might sound a bit illogical, but sometimes the root of your bathroom drain might lie on your roof. The bathroom vent pipes establish air supply into the drainage system of the house. 

A clogged vent pipe, therefore, could lead to babbling sinks and unpleasant smells in your bathroom. So, how can you clean bathroom vent pipe?

You can clean a bathroom vent pipe by climbing onto the roof, flushing water through it, and taking out the clog with a plumber’s snake.

A congested bathroom vent pipe can lead to toxic gas buildup inside the house. In the worst-case scenario, it could cause a severe explosion. Knowing how to clean bathroom vent pipe can help you avoid such an undesirable situation.

How to Clean Out a Plumbing Vent Pipe: A Comparison Table

Cleaning MethodDifficulty LevelTools RequiredTime RequiredCostEffectiveness
Manual BrushModerateBrush, Screwdriver30-60 minutesLowGood
Vacuum with AttachmentEasyVacuum, Hose15-30 minutesLowFair
Compressed AirModerateCompressed air can30-45 minutesModerateFair
Chemical CleanersEasy to ModerateCleaning solution15-30 minutesLowGood
Professional ServiceEasyService provider1-2 hoursHighExcellent

Table of Contents

Signs of a Clogged Vent Pipe

Before you start cleaning, it’s essential to recognize the signs of a clogged bathroom vent pipe. Look out for the following:

  • Musty Odors: A musty or moldy smell in your bathroom is a clear indicator of poor ventilation.
  • Condensation: If you notice condensation on your bathroom walls and ceiling, it’s a sign that moisture isn’t being properly vented.
  • Inadequate Suction: When you turn on the bathroom fan, check if there’s a lack of suction. This suggests a clog in the vent pipe.

Things You Would Need

  • Ladder
  • Garden hose
  • Adjustable nozzle
  • Plumbing snake
  • Rope
  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight

How To Clean Bathroom Vent Pipe?

How to Clean Bathroom Vent Pipe

Step 1. Secure The Ladder

how to secure ladder to roof

Grab a ladder for getting to your roof. Place it on level ground and ensure a firm footing. Also, assure that the ladder top exceeds the roofline by at least three feet. That’s why we would advise using something along the lines of the Louisville Ladder FE3216 Fiberglass Extension Ladder. To prevent the feet from slipping, you can secure the lower end of the ladder by tying it to a tree or a porch column.  

See also  How To Ventilate A Bathroom Without Windows ( 7 Proven Steps)

Step 2. Get To The Roof

climb up to the roof

Once you properly stabilize the ladder, climb to the roof. Don’t forget to take a screwdriver and a garden hose with you.

Step 3. Spray Water Down The Vent

Spray Water Down The Vent

Undo the vent cap screws and remove the vent cap. Then, spray water into the vent with the garden hose. Control the intensity of the stream with the adjustable nozzle. Often, you won’t have to do anything else to clean the vent.

Step 4. Get The Plumbing Snake

Try spraying as intensively as possible. But, even if switching to jet mode fails to unload the blockage, then it’s time to move on to the next step. Get a draining snake about 10 to 20 feet long. You can use the Ridgid GIDDS-813340 41408 we had recommended in our bathroom pipe blockage article.

Now, push the cables inside the vent and extend them to the clog. Keep on releasing until you break up the obstruction. Flush with water afterward. To learn more about operating a plumbing snake, you can check out this Wikihow tutorial

How To Clean Bathroom Vent Pipes Without Getting To The Roof?

Not keen on the idea to get on the roof and fix the vents? If your vent pipes are made of PVC instead of cast iron, there is an alternate way to clean the bathroom vents. It’s good news for house owners with a phobia of heights because, in this method, you can clean the vents without stepping outside the house.

Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC is a popular material for pipes. Whether it’s drain pipes or vent pipes, PVC is a smart choice because of its lower price, durability, and easier maintenance. The trick we will discuss now is only suitable for PVC pipes because they are easy to cut and repair. 

First, identify the location of the vent in your bathroom. When you find the vent section, cut out a part to make room for the snake to go in.  A Capri Tools 20105 12″ Mini Hacksaw would be the perfect tool for this action. Drop the snake into the hole and continue probing until you discover the blockage. Try both upward and downward directions.

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After removing the clog, you would have to patch up the pipe. You can place PVC couplings to fill the gap and secure the edges with cement. Usually, a rubber gasket secures the vent to the roof. It’s quite flexible, so you can readjust it to re-attach the vent with minimal effort.

How To Keep Your Bathroom Vents Clean?

1. Use Appropriate Vent Cap

Using a vent cap is an excellent idea since it keeps out animals, leaves, and other items that can block the vent.

However, you would have to pick the right type of vent cap to make it functional. Otherwise, it would not be effective and cause additional problems like creating a layer of ice on the vent mouth in winter. Consult a professional while choosing vent caps.

2. Check For Vermin

Vents could be the ideal place for birds, rats, and squirrels to take shelter. So, frequently check the vents for vermin.

3. Trim Tree Branches

Trim the tree branches that are hanging right over the vents. Leaves and other debris falling from them would fill up your vents. So, removing nearby branches would drastically reduce the likelihood of clogged vents. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How to fix plumbing vent problems?

To fix plumbing vent problems, inspect the vent pipe for damage, cracks, or disconnections. Repair any issues by replacing damaged sections or reattaching disconnected portions. Ensure the vent pipe extends above the roofline to prevent air flow obstructions.

How to clear a sewer vent pipe?

How to prevent future plumbing vent issues?

To prevent future plumbing vent issues, regularly inspect and maintain the vent system. Keep the vent pipe clear of debris and install critter guards to prevent animals from nesting in it. Also, be aware of the local building codes and ensure your vent system complies with them.

How do I stop my vent pipe from smelling?

To prevent vent pipe odors, ensure proper ventilation, remove debris, and use odor-blocking devices like filters or traps. Regular maintenance helps.

How do I know if my vent pipe is clogged?

Signs of a clogged vent pipe include slow drainage, gurgling sounds, or bad odors in your plumbing system.

Do vent pipes need to be cleaned?

Vent pipes for plumbing and ventilation systems may need cleaning if they become clogged or obstructed, potentially leading to issues.

What happens if the bathroom vent pipe is clogged?

A clogged bathroom vent pipe can lead to poor drainage, sewer gas odors, and potential damage to your plumbing system.

Is It Possible That My Vents Are Clogging Up Fast Because They Are Smaller Than Ideal?

Of course, that is a possibility. If you have been doing regular tree trimming and vermin control only to clean your vents every now and then, your vent pipes might not have sufficient width. 

Plumbing codes vary across territories, but generally, a 4-inch pipe is prescribed to support a kitchen and multiple bathrooms. However, don't decide on replacing without professional advice.

Do I Have To Use De-clogging Solutions To Clean Bathroom Vent Pipes?

De-clogging solutions aren't necessary for bathroom vent pipes because they don't deal with the same type of blockage as drain pipes. Instead of hair, residual soap, and mineral buildup, blocked vents have dead animals, leaves, and other kinds of debris. 

So, you need to adopt a different strategy here compared to internal bathroom piping. 

Final Say

Bathroom vents are not the usual suspects, but they can be responsible for the bad odor you have been complaining about. So, it’s important to learn how to clean bathroom vent pipe so that you can maintain a healthy plumbing system in your house.

That said, we should warn you that working on the roof is a risky endeavor. If you are not confident, hire a professional to get your vent pipes fixed. If you do decide to do it by yourself, take adequate precautions. 

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