How to Unclog a Drain Waste Vent

Gloved hand holding drain waste piping
  • 1-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-500
What You'll Need
Garden hose
Roof ladder
50 Foot snake

One of the unfortunate events that will happen when you own a home is a clogged drain waste vent. There are many different reasons for this. Sometimes the waste vent is not situated properly in your home. Other times it is because animals and birds deposit debris down the vent where it comes out of your roof. Whichever reason the vent is not allowing your waste to drain properly, you will have to unclog it to get the system flowing again.

Step 1 - Check to See if Vent is Damaged

When your drains are not operating properly, chances are it is a problem with the drain waste vent. This vent is a system that allows air to push down the waste as it flows through the pipes. When it becomes clogged, the drains will slow down, and even cease to work. Sometimes what might seem like a clog is really a damaged vent pipe. The pipes protrude from the roof, and damaging winds, falling branches, or chunks of ice can break the PVC pipe. Check to make sure the pipe is still solid before trying to remove a clog.

Step 2 - Place Ladder Against Building

man on a ladder looking at roof on a home

Using an extension ladder set it up against the building near where you are going to work on the drain vent. Make sure the ladder is anchored correctly and you have someone to hold the bottom down as you climb.

Step 3 - Position Roof Ladder

If your roof has a steep rise to it you will need to use a roof ladder so you can work without worrying about falling. Tie a rope to the top rung of the roof ladder before you ascend to the roof. Using the rope, lift the roof ladder up to the roof and lay it flat. Position it at the vent and you will be able to walk up the incline and work from the ladder.

Step 4 - Look into Vent

Once you are at the drain vent you should use a flashlight and look to see what may be causing the clog. Many times it is a nest or something else close to the top. If so, you can remove it with your hands and a small garden tool.

Step 5 - Use a Plumber's Snake

If you can not see anything near the top, or if the clog is out of reach, use a drain snake in order to work your way through it. A heavy duty cable with a sharp cutting attachment will help to remove the clog.

Step 6 - Use a Hose

If you do not have a drain snake, or if the snake is not able to remove the clog, then use a garden hose. Place the hose into the vent and have the water turned on. Listen to it as you hear it backing up into the pipe. You should hear a sudden release of the clog as the weight of the water pushes it down. If not, and the water begins to overflow the top, you will need to seek professional help.