One of the most common plumbing problems homeowners complain about are slow drains. A drain that is not functioning correctly will cause water to back up in sinks, tubs and showers. It can lead to overflowing water and dirty residue left behind in plumbing fixtures. Anyone that has showered while standing in several inches of soapy, fast-cooling water understands how frustrating this can be.

This problem is almost always blamed on a clogged drain. Every year Americans spend approximately $150 million on drain cleaners. That does not include the cost of hiring a plumber or renting or buying specialized equipment like drain snakes. This is unfortunate, because many of these cleaners are not only ineffective at removing clogs, but can actually be harmful to plumbing as well. Secondly, it is not uncommon for the drain to be slow because of a venting issue, rather than an actual clog.


Vents allow air into the pipe to push the water through. Without proper venting, this cannot happen and the water may just sit in the sink or tub rather than drain. If the issue has been happening as long as the person has lived in the home or since a bathroom remodel was performed, it is probably a design flaw. There were either an inadequate amount of vents installed or they were installed improperly. If slow drains are a new problem, then it may be a sign of clogged vents. Roof vents are vulnerable to debris like leaves or bird nests and can become too blocked to function correctly.

Vents that are clogged or incorrect venting designs can create problems more severe than just water draining too slowly. It can also cause sewer gases to back up and enter the home. Not only is this an unpleasant occurrence because of the odor, but it can be potentially toxic as well. Homeowners who notice a problem with their drains should check for vents and remove any debris that is found. If this is not possible, it is recommended that they contact a plumber who can inspect the lines and the vents to determine the cause and make any necessary repairs to prevent the issue from continuing.