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Why is my Toilet Gurgling?

One of the most common problems with toilets is the strange gurgling noise that sometimes happens. One minute, your toilet is working fine, then another minute it’s making a weird gurgling sound.

But what does this toilet gurgle mean?

And, more importantly, how do you stop the strange gurgling noises?

There are several possible issues that could cause toilet gurgles, and each issue has different possible solutions.

In this article, we’ll be covering all of the possible causes for strange gurgling noises, as well as different ways you can stop them.

What Causes a Toilet Bowl to Gurgle?

First up, you need to understand what causes a toilet to gurgle.

Whenever you hear a gurgling noise from your toilet bowl, that is caused by negative air pressure in your plumbing system.

Negative pressure pushes back against the sewage in your drain system, which is what causes the gurgling toilet

In general, there are six common plumbing issues that create negative pressure and cause a toilet to gurgle:

  • A clogged toilet
  • A faulty flapper or cistern
  • A clogged drain line or mainline
  • A blocked vent pipe or vent stack
  • A problematic municipal sewer line

What is Negative Air Pressure?

Negative air pressure is when the pressure inside a space is less than the pressure outside of it. 

This imbalance creates a vacuum effect and forces the air to move toward the area with negative air pressure.

In the case of your gurgling toilet, the same negative air pressure causes air to push back, which leads to your toilet bubbling.

How Do You Fix a Gurgling Toilet?

How you fix a bubbling toilet is entirely dependent on what the root of the plumbing problem is.

Depending on the type of drainage system you have, it may be possible for you to fix some of these issues by yourself – even if you have absolutely no previous experience.

In the sections below, we’ll go over each plumbing problem in detail, then describe how to solve them.

If Your Toilet Is Clogged

If your toilet is making a gurgling noise, the most probable cause is a clogged toilet

This could be obvious if you just flushed something large that maintains its shape or easily wads up.

Most of the time, the culprits are toilet paper, paper towels, cigarette butts, and other kinds of waste. Yes, even toilet paper can cause a bubbling toilet if you wad up too much!

If you suspect a clogged toilet is the cause of the bubbling toilet, first check the toilet drain hole

If you can see anything blocking the drain hole, use duct tape to seal off all nearby drains and drain pipes. This increases the pressure in your drain system, and also prevents the drain pipes from leaking from the pressure.

Then take a plunger and plunge ten to twenty times. The reverse suction should dislodge any debris causing the bubbling toilet

If this doesn’t solve the clogged toilet, you can try taking a garden hose and threading it down the drain hole.

Turning it on will increase the water pressure in your drainage system and hopefully get rid of the blockage. Just be sure not to turn it up too high, otherwise, you’ll get toilet water all over yourself.

Finally, if you still have a clogged toilet, you can use a drain snake or – even better – a plumber’s snake. These can be used to get rid of tough clogs.

However, if you do get a plumbing auger, it can cost hundreds of dollars. At that point, it may be better to hire a plumber.

If Your Toilet Tank Is Malfunctioning

Another possible cause is that your toilet tank is malfunctioning. 

When this happens, it’s typically either your flapper or the cistern itself.

The flapper is what flushes and refills the toilet, so if it’s not working properly, it could cause gurgling sounds.

The cistern is what holds the water, so if it’s cracked, it could mean there isn’t enough water to effectively flush, leading to gurgling sounds.

There isn’t much to do if this is the case.

If the flapper is the problem, you can buy a new one at a hardware store and replace it yourself.

However, if the cistern is the problem, you’ll need to call a plumber.

If Your Drain Line or Mainline Is Clogged

If you have a blocked drain line or main sewer line, this can also lead to a toilet gurgling.

However, these two blockages are distinctly different from each other.

A blocked drain line will cause toilet bubbles in one area only, like the nearby drains and bathroom fixtures on a single floor.

But if the blockage is in the main sewer line, your whole house will be affected. 

A clogged drain line can be caused by typical debris and can be fixed if the blockage isn’t that far down. You can use a toilet auger to fix a simple drain line blockage

However, if the clogged drain line is more serious and the blockage is further down, then the sewer snake may not be able to reach the drain line blockage.

And if it’s a mainline blockage, you will have to hire a plumber to solve the issue.

An easy way to check for this is by flushing the toilet. If water backs up into the shower, then it’s probably a mainline blockage.

Tree roots can sometimes be the cause of a clogged mainline, since they often grow through any holes or loose joints in the drain lines

For serious issues like this, a plumber will need to send a camera down the drain lines to see what the blockage is. 

If Your Vent Pipe or Vent Stack Is Blocked

Another common issue that can lead to toilet bubbles and a gurgling sound is a blocked vent stack or vent pipe

A vent stack, also known as a vent pipe, is the vertical pipe leading up to the roof of your house. There, it releases exhaust gas from your drainage system.

Other than releasing sewer gases, the vent pipe also helps regulate the air pressure in your plumbing.

Because of this, blocked vent stacks can lead to negative pressure in your plumbing.

A good sign that the vent stacks are blocked is if you notice a gassy sewer odor around your property. This means the exhaust isn’t being properly vented.

To solve this, you can climb up on the roof and check the vent stacks. Plumbing vents often get blocked by leaves, birds’ nests or even the carcass of an animal that climbed into the vents.

However, if the blockage is too far down, you will need to call a plumber. They will be able to use a sewer snake to get the obstruction out.

If You Have a Clogged Municipal Sewer Line

Finally, if you notice the pressure is off in your toilet, sink, and shower, then the problem might be a clogged municipal sewer line. 

Have you ever wondered where all that wastewater created by your community goes? Well, it goes to the municipal line!

A municipal sewer line is in charge of carrying the wastewater from your municipality to the treatment center. 

So if something is wrong with it, then it affects not just one drain pipe, but every drain pipe in every house connected to it.

This is probably the issue if you hear reports of toilet gurgling all over your neighborhood. 

However, because the municipal sewer main is not part of your property, you don’t have the authority to fix it.

The best thing to do is to call your local sewer authority and request a sewer cleanout.

This may take a while, so you’ll have to live with your toilet bubbling for some time, but it depends on the sewer authority.

How Do I Get My Toilet to Stop Gurgling?

Even with all of the tips we’ve listed above, you may find that your toilet is still gurgling. Or, perhaps, you already know the solution, but lack the ability to carry it out.

In this case, the best thing to do is hire a plumbing service

A good plumbing service will have all the equipment required for the job, so you won’t have to buy expensive equipment such as a plumber’s auger

Professional plumbers will also have the knowledge, skill, and experience necessary for dealing with complex plumbing issues. For example, they will be able to cut away tree roots that are blocking sewage lines, which is no mean feat.

By hiring experts, you can avoid any accidental damage that may happen if you fiddle around.

Book an Appointment with Mac 5 Services Today!

Here at Mac 5 Services, we have a team of professional plumbers who know how to take care of all the plumbing problems you could possibly have.

We know how problematic toilets can be – especially if you’re not even sure what the root of the issue is – which is why we offer services for installing, repairing, and maintaining your home’s plumbing.

Whether you’ve got a simple drain clog or a blocked vent stack, we’ve got all the solutions for you at Mac 5 Services!

So what are you waiting for? Book an appointment with us on our website!

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