Imagine walking into your bathroom and you start to hear a bubbling noise. You look down and see the water in your toilet bowl bubbling up. This may seem super strange and also a bit scary because after all a gurgling toilet is not normal. After taking a moment to question why this might be happening and checking to see if anything else in your bathroom is making similar noises, you’ll probably do a quick Google search to see what might be causing the toilet gurgling to occur and possibly ask if you should call a plumber or your water company.
The main reason you’re seeing bubbling water in your toilet bowl is from a lack of airflow in your sewer line through a vent pipe. If something is blocking one of your sewer lines or a vent stack, you’ll start to get bubbling in your toilet bowl as air tries to escape.
There are two main reasons a vent pipe might clog, one being a clogged sewer pipe and the other being a blocked vent pipe from another obstruction on the roof opening.
Here we’ll share a few more details around diagnosing what’s causing the toilet bubbles and toilet gurgles so you can get to the bottom of things before they create a bigger problem with your drain lines going forward.
If you have tried these methods or need a professional plumbers guidance or want to speak to a home improvement specialist, you can book a plumber on Pulled to get to the bottom of your home’s plumbing and find a resolution to your specific problem without trouble shooting your whole house plumbing system looking for a solution to these rumbling sounds!
We have the right plumbing service to get to the bottom of your plumbing problem, whether its a gurgling toilet, clogged toilet, clogged drain line, drain line blockage, blocked vent stack or any other problem with your home’s plumbing.
Toilet Bubbling From A Blocked Ventilation Pipe
To give you an example of how a gurgling toilet can get started from a blocked ventilation pipe or vent stack, we’ll use a plastic water bottle as an illustration. If you’ve tried to pour water out of a plastic bottle too quickly, the liquid will often splash out, creating a gurgling noise, as it moves out of the narrow drain hole of the bottle until the majority of the water has emptied out.
Because the water is being poured out at a faster rate than air can get back into the bottle and push the water out through the opening, the water will splash out rather than flow smoothly.
This can also happen with your plumbing pipes causing toilet gurgling to occur. When air tries to escape your sewer drain system as water begins to flow with waste from your bathtub, sinks, and toilets, it may become stuck in the drain pipes if not properly allowed to escape, causing the toilet to gurgle.
What Are Vent Stacks?
If you’ve ever wondered why you have a vertical pipe leading to your roof and sticking out above your roof line, these pipes are ventilation pipes, also known as plumbing vents or vent stacks that work to release exhaust gas or sewer gas from your sewer drainage system. Each vent pipe or vent stack, is attached to different areas of your sewer line usually at the toilet sink connection and allow air to escape as water flows through the sewer line.
This occurs during a shower or when you flush the toilet and the toilet tank releases water to push toilet paper and other waste down the toilet bowl. If these pipes become blocked in any way, the air pressure won’t be released through the roof, causing negative pressure to form in the sewer lines, allowing water to back up and become trapped and toilet gurgling to occur.
When you flush your toilet, air that is in your sewer lines needs to escape and if it can’t go anywhere you’ll get a vapor lock or reverse suction, which will prevent proper movement of waste through the sewer lines and create plumbing issues such as toilet gurgling sounds.
The Negative Air Pressure Explanation
For a more technical explanation, we’ll break it down a bit further. Water should flow freely through your sewage lines, preventing negative air pressure from forming, so waste runs smoothly down and out to the municipal sewer.
If you have an issue with your sewer lines like a tough clog from too much toilet paper, the negative air pressure will eventually release, pushing air back through the sewer drains and into the toilet, causing toilet gurgling.
The buildup of negative air pressure is usually caused by a clog in one of two areas: somewhere in the drain system, which could be close to the toilet or farther down the main sewer line that connects to your municipal sewer line.
The toilet gurgles can also indicate a broken or collapsed sewer main, that if neglected, could lead to all that wastewater backing up into bathroom fixtures like toilets, showers, and tubs or nearby drains. If this happens you will definitely need to call a plumber.
Toilet Gurgling From A Clogged Drain or Sewer Line
A bubbling toilet or toilet gurgling can also indicate that there is a clog in the the sewer drain line that connects your toilet to your home’s sewer line, before it reaches the municipal sewer line, creating a clogged toilet.
When water can’t move through the drain hole as quickly as it needs to because of a clog in the drain pipe due to a collection of waste, this slow draining can cause bubbles to form in air pockets or gaps in the pipe behind the drain clog.
These tough clogs allow air gaps to form, that become filled with water, that is traveling down the drain pipe. These bubbles can go back up the drain line, causing your toilet to gurgle.
Fixing A Gurgling Toilet And Toilet Bowl With A Plumber’s Snake or Plunger
Snaking your toilet and drain with a sewer snake, also known as a plumber’s snake or plumber’s auger or using a process such as “hydro-jetting”, which involves cleaning your drain through your sewer cleanout with high-pressured water to remove tough clogs, can be a fix for this particular issue. Hydro-jetting is highly specialized though and will require you to call a plumber.
Plunging the toilet can also create enough pressure to clear a light-to-moderate clog, but because the tub, sink, and toilet are often connected to the same drain line, it’s best to seal off these drains with duct tape, prior to plunging, to avoid allowing the water to escape through these other drains.
What About A Gurgling Sink?
The gurgling noise you hear in your toilet can also occur at your sink. This occurs because your sink, toilet, and tub or shower, are all connected to your main sewer line.
When the sewer line is not properly vented and your sink is using a full S-Trap instead of a proper P-Trap, you might have toilet gurgles or a gurgling noise from your sink drain.
Under the right conditions, your sink will have a P-trap that attaches to your sink drain, catching any items like hair that can clog your sewer line. Water collects in this trap and helps prevent sewer gas from coming up through the sink opening, from the sewer drain lines. These sewer gases can smell very bad so its best to make sure you inspect your sink trap to make sure you are using the right one if you hear a gurgling sound.
In certain cases, S-traps will be installed in the hopes of using the sink as a vent for the sewer line, instead of installing a proper vent up to the roof. This can create a major problem, because the trap can act as a siphon, helping to pull water out of the trap into the sewer line by abnormal suction building in the line and allowing gases from the main sewer line to come into the house through the sink drain.
The solution to this can be installing a mechanical vent, in some jurisdictions, or installing a new vent through the ceiling and out of the roof.
How To Use A Plumber’s Snake To Unclog A Drain
Under certain circumstances, you can dislodge a clogged drain by using a coat hanger from your closet and disassembling it until it becomes a long, fairly straight strip. This will act as a simple drain snake that can get much of the small debris like hair. Keep the original hook-shape on the end to catch any debris deep down in the drain and remove them.
Once you’ve created this new contraption, reach down through the drain opening and try to dislodge the debris, pulling it up and out of the pipe. If you’ve tried this several times and still can’t dislodge your clog, then you’ll want to use a plumber’s snake.
A drain toilet snake or sewer snake is a long wire coil with a screw-like tip that feeds into your pipes and turns to break up the debris that has formed a clog. To use this machine, slowly push the snake cable into the drain, and turn the handle in a clockwise motion as you push.
As you move through the drain pipe, you might hear scratching, which will signal that you’ve reached a curve in the pipe and you’ll want to keeping pushing past this. When you feel a significant amount of resistance, this will signal you’ve reached the clog, which should give way with slight amounts of pressure and turning of the cable.
While continuing to turn the cable in a clockwise manner, you’ll want to pull the cable back and push forward to break up and push the debris through the pipe the clog affects.
After doing this for some time, you should be able to feel the clog completely dislodge and move down the pipe into the main sewer line. If you’ve tried this several times and you’ve failed to remove the clog, you may need a larger machine.
We’d recommend calling a professional plumber at Pulled to get to the bottom of the issue and ensure you have a healthy drainage system. There may be a larger issue like tree roots that have entered your sewer drain line. Tree roots can be extremely strong and cause plumber’s snakes to become damaged.