Storm Left Your Plumbing A Mess? Tips To Clean And Unclog Your Vent Stack

If a recent thunderstorm left your plumbing and home in a mess, clean and unclog your vent stack. Heavy rain and strong winds can wash or blow leaves, dirt and paper down your home's vent stack. Sometimes, animals seek shelter inside your vent to escape the harsh weather. When any of these problems happen, the debris blocks the flow of air in the vent stack and plumbing lines, as well as creates a foul smell in your house. Here's why you have a clogged vent and tips you can use to repair it now. 

What Happens If the Vent Stack Clogs Up?

The vent stack pulls in air from the outside of the home to help the bathroom and kitchen pipelines empty properly. If the vent clogs up, air can't enter them and circulate through the plumbing lines properly. Every time you flush the toilet, drain the water from your sinks or do laundry, the water backs up into the home. Emergency problems, such as flooding and stagnant water, then ensue.

Your vent stack also releases smelly sewer gases from your home. If you notice a bad scent in your bathroom or kitchen after the thunderstorm, the debris trapped the gases in your home.

Cleaning out the vent stack releases pressure inside the plumbing lines so that the air circulates freely again. In addition, you have a chance to secure the opening of your vent if it's damaged or missing. A missing cap is most likely how debris entered your vent stack in the first place.

What Supplies Do You Need to Clean and Unclog the Vent?

Cleaning out your vent stack isn't a difficult task. However, you need to have a few things ready to help you do so quickly and efficiently. Your list of items are easily found around the home, saving you time and money:

  • Bucket
  • Flashlight
  • Long salad tongs with serrated edges  
  • Old broom 
  • Tall ladder

Once you secure your items, you're ready to clean and unclog your vent stack.

How Do You Clean and Unclog Your Vent Stack?

Position your ladder on the side of the home that's located closest to your vent. For safety reasons, you don't want to walk across your roof to get from one side to the other, especially if it slopes downward. Also, if the rain weakened areas of your roof, you could fall through.

Now, use the steps below to work on the vent:

  1. Check the cap on the vent. Is it missing or damaged? If so, place a piece of screen over the opening after you clean out the vent, then secure it with silver tape.
  2. Shine your flashlight down the stack to see if it contains live birds and rodents. If so, stop and call in an emergency plumber to handle the vents. If you don't find live animals in the vent, proceed to step 3.
  3. Use your serrated salad tongs to pull out the debris you can easily see and reach without sticking your arm down the vent too far or at all. Place the debris in your bucket, including any dead animals you find.
  4. Stick the handle of your old broom down the vent, then gently work it back and forth. You want to push the debris down the pipe as far as you can, which helps it travel to the main sewer line and out into the street.
  5. Throw away your tongs, bucket and broom. You don't want to bring germs into your home.

Now, descend your ladder and go inside your home. Turn on your faucets and flush your toilet, then wait 10 minutes. If the water flows down the sink drains and toilet freely without bubbling or making other sounds, you solved the problem. To see if the sewer gases leave your home, wait at least 48-72 hours for the smell to clear up. Keep in mind it may take longer for the smell to completely go away.

If the tips above don't solve your problem, or if you need additional services for your storm-damaged plumbing, contact an emergency plumbing service like Plumb Pros Plumbing Heating & Drains right away.