If you've started hearing a gurgling sound coming from your toilet, and you're thinking, why is my toilet gurgling?
Don't worry, you're not alone. Gurgling isn't an unusual complaint from a toilet, but it still shouldn't be ignored. You may also notice water bubbling back up into your bowl if your toilet gurgles when you flush it or if it's gurgling on its own.
Maybe you've noticed the strangest symptom of all; phantom flushing. If you've seen any of this, you don't need to be too alarmed, but you do need to be proactive. The guide below will help you learn the common causes of that gurgle and what you can do to easily fix it.
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Why Does My Toilet Gurgle? Most Common Causes
So if your toilet gurgles when flush, what does it mean? Well, it could be caused by a few different things. Any of the following things could be causing your toilet to gurgle.
Clogged toilet drain/toilet
If your toilet is gurgling and water is backing up, you probably have a clog. A blocked toilet is relatively obvious. You will likely see shredded toilet paper, among other things, in the bowl. A clogged drain often occurs when something is flushed down the toilet that shouldn't be, like Q-tips or feminine hygiene products.
Clogged sewers – What are the signs of a sewage backup?
If your toilet gurgles at the end of the flush, it could also be a clogged sewer. Your main sewer drain is where every drain in your house ends. It carries waste and water away from your home and into the sewer system. Blocks in your sewer are usually out of your control and caused by things like roots growing through the pipes underground, segments of pipe separating from one another, or a pipe growing a "belly" because of shifting or settling ground.
Blocked vent stack – How do I know if my plumbing vent is clogged?
Most people look down when their toilet malfunctions. But in some cases, the solution could be above you. The vent stack is on the roof of your house, and it doesn't just dispel sewer odors from your home, but it also equalizes the air pressure in your pipes, so water and waste can move through them freely. If the vent pipe gets clogged, it can cause negative air pressure and a gurgling toilet.
Sediment builds up in the tank
Next, you should open your toilet tank and check the color of the water and interior walls. If it's any color other than what it should be, you likely have sediment buildup in your tank, especially if it's red. If this isn't cleaned correctly, it can block water from entering the tank, causing the fill valve to sputter and gargle as it refills the tank.
Faulty tank fill system
There are two basic mechanisms in your toilet tank—one that releases water into the bowl and one that fills the tank back up. The flapper lifts to let the tank's contents into the bowl, and then new water comes in from the pipe that connects the tank to the wall.
A malfunction with either one of these could cause the gurgling noise. For example, the flapper could be causing the gurgling by letting air into the tank.
How To Fix A Gurgling Toilet: What You Can Do
Even the best toilets have issues, but fortunately, most of them can be fixed at home. If your toilet is gurgling, try the following:
Supplies You'll Need For The Following Suggestions:
- 2Duct Tape
- 3Drain Auger
- 5Garden Hose
Take a Plunger to Your Toilet
Everyone has plunged their toilet before, but plunging to fix a gurgle is a bit different. Before you plunge, you need to seal off nearby drains to keep the air from escaping that way. The air needs to escape through your toilet when you plunge so it can bring up any clog with it. Use duct tape to seal off your sinks, tub, etc. As long as there isn't a severe clog, a plunger should do the trick.
Use A Sewer Snake
A drain auger, or drain snake, can be used next if the plunger doesn't do the trick. Drain snakes can range from 5 to 15 feet long and clear most of the clogs your plunger won't. If you are dealing with a serious clog and need more power, you can rent a motorized auger that can reach 100 feet or more. Using a motorized auger can be complicated, so it might be in your best interest to call a plumber. Learn how to use one here.
Check Your Vent Pipe
If all else fails, check your vent pipe. To do this, you'll need to grab a small flashlight, garden hose, ladder, and a thin rope. Tie your flashlight onto the rope, turn it on, and let it down the vent pipe and take a look around. If the clog isn't deep, you can clear it with a straightened wire hanger. You can use your hose to wash it down the vent pipe and out through the sewer for deeper clogs.
Call Your Local Plumber
Some things are better left to the professionals. If nothing you've done is working, call your local plumber. Getting your plumber to do it will cost you more, but it will ensure it's done right. Not everyone is familiar with plumbing systems, and more harm than good can be done if you don't know what you're doing.
How To Prevent A Toilet From Gurgling: Tips From A Plumber
The easiest way to fix a gurgling toilet is to keep it from happening in the first place. Fortunately, everyone can perform a few simple tasks to keep their toilet from gurgling and to maintain their toilet system in general.
The simplest thing you can do is to only flush water, waste, and toilet paper. Nothing else belongs in your toilet. You should also protect your vent stack from foreign objects by covering it with a hardware cloth secured with a hose clamp. This will keep out leaves, animals, and other debris.
And finally, it's a good idea to get your plumbing inspected on a regular basis. Getting your plumbing checked once a year can keep potential problems from springing up and keep minor issues from turning into major headaches.
People also Ask (FAQs)
Why does my toilet gurgle when the washing machine drains?
When your washing machine drains, it pushes the water out at high volume using its drain pump. If your toilet gurgles when it does this, it usually means the shared waste pipe is partially blocked, and the water from the washer can't pump out fast enough.
Why is my toilet gurgling when I take a shower?
If your toilet gurgles while you shower, the water can't drain away fast enough. Your plumbing begins to fill with water, and as the pipes fill, air could be forced out through the toilet, causing the gurgling sound.
How much does it cost to unclog a vent pipe?
It typically costs around $100 to $200 to unclog a vent pipe. Signs your vent pipe might be clogged are foul odors, slow drainage, gurgling noises, or if someone flushes a sink, another sink makes a noise.
How much does it cost to unclog a main sewer line?
The average to unclog the main sewer line is somewhere between $350 and $650. Most people pay right around $475 to get their clog removed by hydro jetting the main sewer pipe between a house and municipal mainline.
A gurgling toilet isn't a huge issue, but it also shouldn't be taken lightly. No matter what's causing the gurgle, whether it's a clog in your toilet, a clogged vent pipe, or something else such as a running water issue, there are things you can do to correct it. Or if you'd prefer, you can call in your local plumber to do the work for you.
Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.