Plumbing roof vent pipes.

Should Roof Vent Pipe Be Covered

When it comes to covering a roof vent pipe, it will depend on the type of vent pipe you are looking at. Homeowners will often look to cap a plumbing vent pipe with the idea that this keeps debris from the plumbing system. However, this could end up causing the homeowner more issues with their plumbing systems’ functionality. Should a roof vent pipe be covered? Keeping a vent pipe covered is meant to keep birds from nesting and other debris out of the pipe.

Let’s take a look below at some more details regarding the covering of a roof vent pipe.

What Is A Vent Boot

In some cases, a vent boot is needed on your vent pipe. A vent boot is a rubber vent cap cover that helps seal the pipe and protect the pipe from dirt and debris. Since a vent boot is made of rubber, it can expand and contract in various weather conditions.

The moment that you begin to notice dirt and water damage in your home, it is potentially due to a worn vent boot. Vent boots can break down over time due to extreme weather conditions. Let’s take a look at some warning signs that our vent boot has broken down.

  • You will begin to notice water marks on your ceiling or walls
  • If you have wallpaper, it will start to peel.
  • Painted walls will begin to crack.
  • You will also notice that the shingles around the vent pipes are damaged.
There are a variety of roof vent pipes. Some with covers and some without.
A roof vent.

How Many Types Of Pipes Are On My Roof

Believe it or not, there can be a variety of vent pipes on your roof. Depending on where you live, determine the building code requirements for considering whether should roof vent pipe be covered. Let’s take a look at the main vent pipes.

  • Attic fan – if you have an attic, then you are likely going to have a fan installed. The fan’s job is to pull hot air from the attic and keep it dry. More often you will see an attic fan in a southern home vs a northern home.
  • HVAC vent stack – this is needed to release any fuel or gases that are created by a fireplace, burner, water heater, or boiler.
  • Small vent box – this is connected to your bathroom fan and acts as an exhaust system to pull moisture out of the air. There are protective screens over these vent boxes to keep rodents and birds from nesting in them. You might also have your dryer vent for your clothes dryer attached to the roof. It will have a small vent box.
  • Plumbing vent stack – these allow gases to be released from the plumbing lines and also create pressure to flush your toilets.

What If It Gets Clogged

In the event that a roof vent pipe gets clogged, you will notice a few signs regarding this issue. These are the reasons why homeowners aren’t sure if roof vent pipes should be covered. Let’s take a look.

  1. The toilet gurgles – this will occur if the plumbing roof vent pipe is clogged. This occurs when you flush the toilet and the water has to compete against the pressure in the pipes. If the air build-up is not allowed to escape, then the water is essentially slow draining as it pushes back against the air in the lines.
  2. Slow drain in your sink or bathtub – clogs in the sink drain or bathtub can be caused by many things. However, the moment you have the line free and clear and still notice an issue, it is likely the vent pipe.
  3. A dry P-trap – if the P-trap is dry or missing from your plumbing then the issue of methane gas getting into the home becomes a problem. These sewer gases are hazardous to your health. Double-check the P-traps under your sink and the shower drain to make sure they are working properly. If your bathroom smells like sewage check all vent pipes and P-traps.
  4. Leaves and Debris build-up – rodents, birds, and other scenarios could cause debris to get into your vent pipes. If this happens, make sure to have your roofing contractor remove all leaves and debris from your vent pipes.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know about the vent pipe, let’s take a look at other areas of maintenance on the roof. If you are noticing your roof tiles are looking dull, you can paint them to make them shiny. However, if they are terra cotta material, then you cannot. This is because terra cotta is made of clay and is porous so a good cleaning will help the color.

Another area is finding a roof leak. If you don’t have an attic and are trying to find where the roof leak is, you can let the water run down the damaged spots on your roof and then check the stains. If you aren’t sure, contact a professional for assistance.

Lastly, if you are doing a home inspection, a home inspector will check for visible mold. However, if they don’t have a mold testing service, you will need to hire an additional company to find and test the mold. It is a good idea to hire a home inspection company that has both as it will save you time and probably money.

A roof vent pipe with a cover on it.
Another type of roof vent pipe.

When Do I Call A Professional

When it comes to anything related to your roof, you should call a professionally licensed roofing contractor. They could explain to you what each pipe is associated with that is on your roof. If you aren’t sure who to use, call on your local home inspection team. They can inspect the roof for any damage and recommend a reputable roofing contractor.


Always know that roof pipes are vital to the functionality of your home. Your roof pipes’ purposes are to keep your home clear of bad gases. If you notice an issue with your roof pipes you will need to get them fixed right away.

It is a good idea to conduct a roofing inspection with your local home inspection team once a year or after a major storm. Reach out to Warren Inspections in Eastern and Central Massachusetts for roofing inspection along with a full home inspection.