Should Your Roof Vent Be Covered At All, Especially During Winter?


Should your roof vent pipe be covered at all? Well, it depends on why you want to cover it. If you’re concerned about rainwater entering the pipes, then you needn’t worry. Most roof vent pipes are not only part of the plumbing system but also connected to water systems that are always wet. So it wouldn’t be ideal to close the end of a roof vent pipe because of the rain.

However, we recommend that you install a roof vent cap, especially during winter to avoid the entry and compilation of snow which will lead to blockage.

These caps have openings that allow foul odor pass through uninterrupted. The main reason for covering your roof vent pipe with a cap is to prevent leaves, dust, dead animals, and other types of dirt that block pipes.

The Purpose of Vent Pipes Sticking Out of Roofs

Vent pipes are an important part of the plumbing system. They carry sewer gases from your house to the sewer safely. This simple mechanism keeps foul gases from backing up and potentially causing you to fall sick.

Plumbing vents are essential plumbing systems that create neutral or balanced air pressure throughout the waste pipe system. Pipe vents also allow air to travel through the waste pipes.

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Vents have numerous benefits such as:

  • they allow foul gases to safely escape through the roof,
  • without vent pipes the grim, foul odour from the sewer would leak through the water in the plumbing traps.
  • if there are no venting pipes, bad odours will circulate the building, which could potentially make people sick.
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You might be wondering why do these pipes stick out of your roof? Why not underground or out your wall? Truth is, pipe vents must be above your plumbing fixtures otherwise the bad odour they are trying to keep away from you and everyone else will just fill your water. So have one under the ground is isn’t ideal. If you got a vent sticking out your wall, that’s not a thought. But imagine all that odour coming out the vent pipes through a walls that’s close to your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. It wouldn’t be good. On the other hand, if it’s sticking up out of your roof, those foul, nasty sewer odours can float in through your windows or kitchen or toilet traps. Once they are out through the roof, they drift away into the atmosphere.

Vent pipes that penetrate through roofs have something called a boot. The type of pipe boot installed usually depends on the type of roof. If the pipe boot of a vent pipe gets damaged, a roof may likely occur. Plus, there’s a higher chance that the vent might get clogged as a result of leaves, debris, ice, snow, even dead animals, choking spaces within the vent. Consequently, this allows gases and odours to enter the home.

Like other plumbing fixtures, pipe vents are can clog easily and the best way to be sure they’re clear and functioning properly is to check them regularly.

What Is a Vent Boot?

Earlier in our article, we mentioned a vent pipe boot. But what exactly is a vent boot?
The boot, AKA the vent pjpe cover, is a rubber cover around your vent pipe. The boot helps to seal the area around your vent pipes, protecting it from water and dirt. Most vent boots are rubber-made.

As a result, they can expand and contract easily when the temperature rises or falls. If they contract or expand too much, they can tear or come off the roof, allowing water or debris to enter your home or building through the roof.
Extreme weathers can also wear out a vent pipe boot, too. Vent boots are prone to damage any time. Here are a few ways to tell if yours is damaged and needs to be replaced:

  • There are watermarks on your ceilings or walls
  • Your kitchen or bathroom walls are peeling or cracking
  • Your shingles are damaged around the roof’s vent pipe
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Why Is Your Roof Vent Pipe Clogged?

A clogged vent pipe means you’ll constantly get attacked by foul gases emitting from the drains, sinks and toilets. There are number of reasons why you vent pipe is clogged. Some of them are:

  • Leaves, branches or other debris are stuck in it.
  • Bird nests.
  • Dead animals.
  • Snow, during winter
  • There could be baseballs or tennis balls in the pipe

Now that you know how your vent pipes gets clogged, there are two ways to have it fixed before your home or building begins smelling like a dumpsite — do it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional plumber.

How to Unclog a Vent Pipe By Yourself

Keep in mind that doing this by yourself is a lot of risks, especially if you don’t know how to climb roofs or work your way around one. That said, once you reach the vent pipe on the roof your house, the first thing you need to do is clear the debris around the vent pipe (if there is any). Next, remove the blockage you find in the vent pipe. If the blockage is too far and you are having a hard time reaching it, use a plumber’s snake instead. If there remains in the vent pipe, stick a hose into the drain and flush it down with water.

If you feel doing this is more than you can handle or you’re unsure where the problem lies, we highly recommend calling a plumbing professional to inspect the clogged vent pipe. Roof climbing is risky and we don’t want you losing an arm or a leg. Hiring a professional, though may cost you and get the job done, it can save you from potentially harming yourself.

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How to Install Pipe Flashing on an Existing Roof

Having a pipe flashing on your roof will reduce water damage and save you lots of money in the future. When installed correctly, pipe flashing will ensure a leak-proof roof and structure.

Before installing a pipe flashing on the roof you need to know this single most important thing: the adjacent shingles and flashings must fit properly around the pipe.

Below is a quick and easy guide on how to install a pipe flashing on existing roof.

  • Bend back the shingles above and around the pipe’s side but leave the shingles below the pipe untouched.
  • Next, lay the pipe flashings above the vent shingles that is below the vent pipe (that’s the one you left untouched in step one).
  • Hammer the nails into the top and side of the flashings, but be careful not to drive it into the shingles. Then hit the bottom edge of the flashings and make sure it is layered at the top of the shingles that are beneath the vent pipe (see step one).
  • Lastly, seal the edges of the flashing and all the nail heads with roofing cement.


Roof Vent Pipe and Boot 101: Everything You Need to Know

What are those pipes sticking out of your roof?