How to Clear Drain Vent: Tools and Steps


A clogged plumbing vent can disrupt proper drainage and allow dangerous sewer gases to enter the home. The vent pipe is a crucial part of the plumbing system, allowing air to enter and maintaining the necessary air pressure for efficient drainage. This is why it’s important to clear drain vent regularly.

What is a Drain Vent?

A drain vent, also known as a plumbing vent or vent stack, is a pipe that runs from the drainage system to the roof of a building. Its primary function is to allow air to flow into the plumbing system, preventing siphoning and maintaining proper pressure. This vent ensures wastewater can drain properly and prevents sewer gases from backing up into the home. 

What Happens if I Don't Clear My Drain Vent?

If a drain vent becomes clogged, it can cause various plumbing problems. Slow drains, gurgling sounds, and sewer gas odours are all common signs of a blocked vent. The plumbing system cannot function as intended without proper airflow, leading to backups, clogs, and potential health hazards from sewer gas exposure. Aside from these, letting the issues persist for long periods can cost you increased service charges in the future.

What You Need to Clear a Drain Vent

Plumber's Snake (Auger)

A plumber's snake, also known as a drain auger, is a long, flexible metal cable that clears vent pipes of blockages. Its coiled spring-like tip can navigate through the vent and dislodge obstructions. Plumber's snakes come to various lengths to reach different vent locations. 

Garden Hose

A garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle can help flush out remaining debris after using a plumber's snake. The strong water flow can clear out any lingering sediment or small particles in the vent pipe. 

Inspection Camera

For hard-to-reach blockages, a small waterproof camera on the end of a flexible cable can be inserted into the vent to visually identify the clog location. The camera helps target the cleaning efforts more effectively. 

Ladder and Safety Gear

Accessing the roof-mounted vent requires a ladder. Ensure the ladder is secure, and use caution when working at heights. Consider wearing a safety harness and having an assistant to spot you. 


If the vent has a cap, you'll need a screwdriver to remove it and access the pipe opening. 


A flashlight can help you inspect the vent pipe and see any visible blockages or debris. 

Steps to Clear a Drain Vent

Clearing a clogged drain vent requires a systematic approach to dislodge and remove the blockage effectively. Following these steps, you can restore proper airflow to your plumbing system and prevent future issues. Always prioritize safety when working on roof-mounted vents, and consider hiring a professional if you're unsure or uncomfortable with the process.

1. Locate the vent pipe, usually on the roof or exterior of the home.

2. Remove any vent cap using a screwdriver.

3. Carefully insert the plumber's snake into the vent opening, gently turning the handle to work the tip through the blockage.

4. Slowly retract the snake, pulling out any dislodging debris.

5. Flush the vent with a high-pressure garden hose to remove the remaining sediment.

6. Test the drainage and airflow by having someone flush a toilet while you hold your hand over the vent opening, feeling for suction.

7. Repeat the snaking and flushing process until the vent is fully cleared.

Considerations When Clearing a Drain Vent

You should consider several factors before attempting to clear a drain vent to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the process. From wearing appropriate protective gear to being cautious when working at heights, these considerations will help you confidently navigate the task and minimize potential risks. If the blockage is severe or you encounter difficulties, it's always best to consult a professional plumber for guidance and assistance.

1. Wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves and eye protection, when working with plumbing equipment.

2. Be cautious when working on the roof, as the surface may be slippery or unstable. Consider hiring a professional plumber if you're uncomfortable with roof access.

3. Avoid forcing the plumber's snake too far, as you could puncture or damage the vent pipe.

4. If the blockage is severe or you can't locate the clog, it's best to call a professional plumber for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Clearing a Drain Vent

Does every drain need a vent?

Yes, every drain in a plumbing system should be connected to a vent pipe. The vent allows air to flow into the system, maintaining proper pressure for efficient drainage.

Where should a drain vent be placed?

Drain vents are typically located on the roof of a building, as this allows the vent to extend above the structure and release sewer gases outside. Vents may also be placed on the exterior walls of a home.

What happens if a drain is not vented?

A vent is necessary for the plumbing system to maintain the necessary air pressure. A lack of a vent can lead to slow drains, gurgling sounds, sewer gas odours, and potential backups.

How long can a drain be without a vent?

Drains should never be left unvented for an extended period, as this will quickly cause problems in the plumbing system. Vents should be installed as part of the initial plumbing design and maintained to ensure proper function.

Does a drain vent have to go straight up?

No, drain vents do not necessarily have to go straight up. They can have offsets and bends as long as the vent pipe maintains a continuous upward slope to the roof. The key is ensuring the vent extends above the roofline to allow proper airflow.

How do I Clear a Drain vent when nothing works?

Maintaining a clear and functional plumbing vent is essential for the health and efficiency of your home's drainage system. Using the right tools and following the proper steps can effectively clear a clogged vent and prevent future blockages. However, if you encounter persistent issues or feel uncomfortable working on the roof, it's best to contact a professional plumber for assistance.At All Needs Plumbing, we're here to help you breathe easier with our expert drain vent cleaning services. With a $0 callout fee, 24/7 same-day service, a 15% seniors' discount, and $150 off hot water systems, we make it easy to keep your plumbing system running smoothly. Contact us today to schedule your vent cleaning and restore proper airflow to your home.

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