There have been a number of answers pointing out that draining problems may be a blocked vent pipe rather than a clog in the drain per se. But I don't think there's been a clear answer on whether clearing the vent is something we can DIY (assuming we can get to it safely) or how best to do so.

Could someone give us a quick summary of what's involved and whether it might be better to make a pro deal with it...?

  • Snaking the vent, is the primary method that I'm aware of.
    – Tester101
    Oct 16, 2015 at 12:32
  • From the roof (or other exhaust opening)?
    – keshlam
    Oct 16, 2015 at 12:46

1 Answer 1


One method used is to snake a garden hose up to the roof to where the vent line protrudes from the roof. An expanding bladder of the size to fit inside of the vent pipe...

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.. is attached to the hose and then pushed down into top of the vent pipe. A helper on the ground then turns on the water to the garden hose. The bladder expands to seal against the inside of the vent pipe and force the water to go down into the vent toward the plug up.

Success of this scheme will depend to large degree if the blockage in the vent is a total closure of the pipe or not. A partial blockage may just let the water run by and not provide much help.

  • Is there a risk of spraying water out of sinks or toilets if the clog isn't in the vent but further down the actual drain?
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 16, 2015 at 13:47
  • Could happen but the flow of water would more likely just start to fill the fixture instead of spraying out with violent force. The helper could be monitoring the fixtures.
    – Michael Karas
    Oct 16, 2015 at 13:51

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