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Why Is My Toilet Gurgling? And, How Can I Fix It?

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Gurgling happens when the toilet makes bubbling noises from the air moving around in the trap due to poor venting or draining. Usually, bubbling is seen when one flushes the toilet or when the shower drains.

If your toilet gurgles, there is negative air pressure in the pipes that creates an air vacuum or air block.

Because air is trapped in the system, it has nowhere to go except out through the toilet or bathroom sink when you flush the toilet.

Let’s break it down further…

Why Is My Toilet Gurgling/Bubbling/Having a Spasm?

1. A Clogged Toilet

Toilets can develop drain clogs from flushing non-flushable items like menstrual pads, napkins, and large sheets of toilet paper. When these items block the toilet drain pipes,

2. A Block in the Vent Stack

A vent pipe helps supply fresh air to each plumbing fixture in the house. This allows the plumbing system to move water through the drainage pipes each time a toilet is flushed or a sink is drained.

It also creates a passageway that allows wastewater gases and odors to safely escape out of the house and prevents sewer gases from entering the home.

The plumbing vent pipe is usually located on the roof, extending about six inches from the roof. 

If there is a block in the vent, your toilet will gurgle. Other problems arising from a clogged vent include:

  • Stagnant water in your sink, toilet, shower, and bathtub that doesn’t drain even when plunged.
  • An empty toilet tank.

If no air can get into the system because of a clogged vent, then there won’t be sufficient air pressure inside the pipe to prevent the toilet from draining.

Water, therefore, escapes down the toilet and your toilet tank stays empty or won’t refill after flushing.

  • Foul smells and sewage odors in the toilet.

A clogged vent pipe reduces the air pressure inside the pipes resulting in water draining out of the P-trap instead of sitting inside the bend at the bottom of the pipe.

When the P-trap is empty, all of the sewer gases can then freely flow back up the drain.

If you hear a gurgling noise in your toilet, it usually indicates that not enough air is getting inside them because the vent pipe is partially clogged.

3. A Blocked Drain Line, Drain Field, or Main Line

Drain lines connect your drains and the main line that transports all the wastewater to your city’s main sewer drain connection.

If a drain line is blocked, then the fixtures in only one room such as the bathroom will be affected but if the main line is blocked, then the impact will affect your entire house.

A gurgling toilet, therefore, could also be caused by a blockage in the water main itself, especially if after checking with your neighbors, you see that they have a similar issue.

In this case, it could be a municipal sewer line clog therefore your town’s responsibility to fix it, not yours. If so, call your township, municipal council, sewerage company, or water company.

How To Fix A Gurgling Toilet

Drain noises can be annoying. To fix a gurgling toilet, we recommend the services of a licensed plumber, especially if a simple plunge isn’t helping.

Try these steps and if it persists, locate your local plumber:

1. Try Plunging It First

The easiest way to unclog a clogged toilet is to try plunging it first. Use a toilet plunger that fits over the whole of the opening so as to create a seal.

Now, push and pull the plunger, without breaking the seal to create a vacuum in the pipes which can break up any clog.

2. Use a Sewer Snake

Tougher clogs can be removed in a drainpipe that plunging can’t manage by using a sewer snake (also known as a plumber’s snake or plumber’s auger).

Insert it into the toilet bowl and turn the crank so the head works its way down the drainpipe, cutting through clogs.

If the clog is so deep in the drainpipe that a small sewer snake cannot reach it, you can upgrade to a motorized auger or have a specialist use a drain cleaner machine.

3. Get Professional Drain Cleaning

If you notice these signs that indicate a clogged plumbing vent, employ an experienced plumber to inspect your drain pipe to determine if it is clogged or if the issues you’re experiencing are related to a clogged drain or some other issue.

What the Plumber will do…

To confirm if the vent pipe is actually clogged, the plumber will access it on the roof and place their hand so that it fully covers the vent pipe. Then, have another person flush the toilet inside.

Basically, flushing the toilet draws air in through the plumbing vent creating suction inside the pipe. If they don’t feel suction on their hand when the toilet is flushed, this indicates that the pipe is clogged.

To Clean the Clogged Drain:

The plumber runs a plumbing snake down the length of the pipe until they reach the clog then turn the auger until it is past the clog. They then draw out the snake to pull out the clog and repeat this process a few times to fully remove the clog.

Sometimes, the plumber may use a garden hose to flush any remaining debris out of the pipe so it is fully clear. But only after clearing up all of the debris should this be done. If not, the debris will all flow into your pipes and could clog your plumbing system.

The last step is to flush the toilet again to check for suction in the vent to make sure that air can now flow through the pipe.

We recommend having the plumber install a cap for your plumbing vent to prevent debris from getting inside and clogging it again.

Conclusion

Why Is My Toilet Gurgling? And, How Can I Fix It?

A gurgling toilet indicates a serious problem within your plumbing system that requires a quick fix. Therefore, instead of ignoring the problem, use the solutions above to fix a gurgling toilet.