Is your plumbing vent clogged? How can you tell? Read on to learn the top signs your plumbing vent is clogged.
Did you know that in 2017, water damage claims in the U.S. averaged a staggering $10,234? That such claims were the second-most common type of claim filed by homeowners that year?
Unfortunately, the figures above only represent claims that insurance companies paid for. It doesn’t include the cases that weren’t covered by insurance. Cases that involved neglect or lack of plumbing maintenance, for instance.
That’s why it’s important to determine if you have a clogged plumbing vent ASAP. That way, you can carry out the necessary fixes or hire a professional plumber to take care of the clog for you, before the blockage in the air vent causes water to back up in drains and toilets.
How do you tell then, that you have a clogged plumbing air vent?
Keep reading as we’ve listed the common symptoms you need to know of!
A Primer on Plumbing Vents
As water passes through plumbing pipes, it creates a vacuum in the pipes. For the water to move smoothly through the pipes, it needs air to push it and replace the vacuum it creates.
The plumbing vent — also called plumbing air vent or vent stack — acts as an air pressure regulator. It admits air into the plumbing system, which then pushes water throughout the pipes. It also gets rid of gasses and odors that wastewater can leave behind.
A clogged vent won’t let air through and into the pipes, so the water remains stagnant in the plumbing system. Stagnant water can then accumulate in the pipes until the pipes can no longer contain them. This can then result in the water flowing back up and out of drains.
Since the opening of a vent stack is outside (usually on the roof), it’s vulnerable to outdoor elements. That’s why it’s easy for the vent to get clogged — dust, debris, leaves, and other things can block its opening.
It’s during such times that you’ll start noticing the following symptoms of a clogged vent.
Water Takes A Long Time to Drain
If used water takes a long time to drain, that can be a sign of a clogged vent stack. Debris blocking the vent won’t allow air to get inside and push the water out of drainage pipes.
Any drain in your home that takes forever to drain can be due to a blocked vent. This can be your bathtub or shower drains, sink drains, or toilets.
Keep in mind though that slow-to-drain water can also signal blockages in a drain pipe. If you experience this issue with only one drain, chances are, it’s a clogged drainage pipe. Try using a plunger first to see if this will do the trick.
If not, or if it happens to multiple areas in your home, then the next likely culprit is a clogged vent.
The good news is, it can be easy to clear a clogged plumbing vent if the blockage is only at the vent’s opening. If it’s safe to climb up to your roof, remove the debris covering the vent. Then, check the affected drains to see if they’re now working great.
If not, then it may mean there’s a clog inside the vent, the drain pipes, or both.
Dry and Empty Toilet Tanks
Did you know that a single leaky toilet can waste a shocking 200 gallons of water a day?
That’s about or more than twice the average water consumption of a single person in the U.S.!
A leak in your toilet tank isn’t the only issue you can experience with it though. The exact opposite can happen if the plumbing air vent gets clogged.
That’s right — you’ll have no water in the tank to flush away what you need to.
Keep in mind that the vent stack regulates air pressure in your home’s plumbing system. A blockage reduces or even completely eliminates that air pressure. Water won’t stay where it should, your toilet tank in this case, and instead, just keep flowing down the pipe.
If your toilet tank doesn’t refill, that’s often an indication of a clogged vent stack.
Foul smells that you’d only usually smell from a sewer line can also signal a clogged vent stack. Those are usually caused by toxic sewer gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. The latter, by the way, can make your home smell like rotten eggs.
Note that methane is the largest constituent of sewer gases though. On its own, it’s colorless and odorless. Inhaling it, however, can lead to symptoms like headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
If you notice these smells (or exhibit symptoms of methane exposure), you may have a clogged vent stack. The reduced air pressure from the vent can completely empty out the drainpipes. This then results in the plumbing P-traps to dry out.
P-traps “contain” or hold on to sewer gases so that they won’t pass through the pipes and into homes. They do so by keeping a tiny bit of water in a little dip, which then creates a seal for these gases. That seal then traps the sewer gases.
That said, if a P-trap doesn’t get any water, it can’t create that seal. Without a seal, harmful sewer drain gases can shoot back up into the pipes and into your home.
Gurgling or “Glugging” Sounds as Water Goes Down the Drain
If any of your drains make these sounds as water exits them, a blocked vent may be the culprit. The clog restricts the amount of air that flows into the vent. This results in the air needing more time to replace the vacuum left by passing water.
That delay is what could be causing those gurgling or glug, glug, glug sounds in the pipes. Another possible culprit is a partial blockage within the pipes themselves.
Get Those Clogs Out of Your Plumbing Vent ASAP
There you have it, all the signs indicating you have a clogged plumbing vent. If you notice any of these symptoms, check the vent’s opening on the roof if it’s safe to do so. If it’s not, contact a local licensed plumber right away.
Remember, clogs in plumbing air vents come with the risk of water backups and toxic gases. The last thing you want is to suffer water damage or end up hospitalized.
If you believe there’s a clog in your plumbing vent stack or drain pipes, please don’t hesitate to call us at (402) 731-2727. We’ll be happy to take care of all your plumbing problems!