It catches you off-guard at the worst of times: a gurgling toilet. You know that your commode isn’t supposed to blow bubbles, but does it mean your system is broken? What could it mean when your toilet starts to gurgle and bubble?
If your toilet makes a gurgling sound, there could be a few different causes. Sometimes the cause is totally out of your control! But a toilet that gulps and gurgles can be a sign of a bigger problem in your septic system.
In this article, we’ll break down all the potential causes of a noisy commode. Then we’ll teach you the best solutions for a gurgling toilet! Finally, we’ll talk about when you need to call a plumber to fix things.
If you’re ready to end the gurgling, keep reading! A peaceful potty is within your reach.
Why Do I Have a Gurgling Toilet?
A gurgling toilet can be caused by multiple different things. At its core, though, a gurgling toilet is caused by a buildup in pressure somewhere in the plumbing system.
When there’s a blockage in your pipes, air pressure builds up and starts to create negative pressure. This means that the air in your pipes is alternating between sucking and pushing, which brings bubbles into your toilet bowl.
The air pressure in your pipes has to remain at a stable level to ensure your toilet is working properly. Stasis in air pressure means that the water and waste will flow freely, as intended. Misaligned air pressure and blockages can lead to bigger issues before you know it.
It sounds simple. But figuring out where that blockage is located is the hard part. Here are some of the common causes of toilet gurgling.
If your toilet is bubbling and gurgling when you flush, your toilet itself may be clogged. This is usually caused by excess waste or buildup of non-flushable products. Toilet clogs don’t always cause a dramatic overflow; sometimes the only sign of a clog is some bubbles here and there.
Either way, toilet clogs should be immediately attended to. These can build up and cause more damage over time. Gurgling is one of the first signs that a clog is building up; don’t let it escalate!
When it comes to clogs, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you’re practicing good flush hygiene by only putting flushable items in the toilet! Remember that wet wipes and feminine hygiene products belong in the trash can, not your pipes.
Toilet clogs are the easiest clog to remedy. It’s unlikely that any clog will build up to where you’ll need a plumber’s help. A simple plunge will fix it ninety-nine percent of the time!
Clogged Vent Pipes
This is a sneakier culprit when it comes to a bubbly toilet. Your plumbing system needs ventilation to function properly; this is what the vent pipe on your roof is for. Having proper ventilation allows the ever-important air pressure to stay stable.
If the vent pipe on your roof gets clogged, your plumbing system is no longer able to regulate the pressure as it’s supposed to. Excess air pressure needs somewhere to go, and if the vent pipe is clogged, that’s impossible!
There are a few probable causes for a clogged vent pipe. If you’ve had inclement weather recently, a buildup of snow or other detritus could be blocking the vent. Leaves, dirt, and grass can also find their way in.
Luckily, a clogged vent pipe is pretty easily resolved. You’ll have to go up to your roof, but the process of sweeping out the vent pipe isn’t difficult. Your toilet will be quiet again in no time.
Calcium and other residues can build up in your toilet over time! If you aren’t regularly scrubbing your toilet bowl, the residue can build up in your pipes and wreak havoc.
If your water contains magnesium, calcium, or iron, residue build-up is likely to happen. Check with your city to find out if your water is hard or soft. Hard water contains high levels of magnesium and calcium and makes you more susceptible to residue clogs.
When there are high levels of these elements in your water, your water is at risk of calcifying. This leaves deposits of solid minerals that build up over time and cause clogs.
This residue can also begin to damage your pipes. If you suspect residue buildup and calcification in your toilet, go ahead and call a plumber. They’ll be able to advise you on how to clear the residue, and whether or not your pipes need replacing.
Sometimes, toilet gurgles have nothing to do with you and your bathroom habits. This is especially true if you live in an apartment building, commercial space, or other attached housing. Gurgles in your toilet can indicate a blockage in a shared septic system.
These clogs can be caused by residue, improperly flushed items, and general waste. One telltale sign of a mainline clog is multiple toilets bubbling in a home. This indicates that there’s a clog affecting multiple lines of plumbing.
Clogs can happen deep into your plumbing and affect the pressure in your pipes. These aren’t always easy to spot; by the time your toilet starts gurgling, the blockage may already be a significant size. If you’ve plunged your toilet and the bubbles are still coming, it may be time to have a plumber check out your mainline.
If you notice a sewer-like smell in your bathroom, that’s when you can assume the blockage goes all the way into the septic system.
How to Fix Toilet Gurgles
Luckily, most causes of toilet bubbles can be remedied at home in a day. Simple clogs and blockages are pretty easy to address without professional help.
Before calling a plumber, give these steps a try. You’ll be able to save time and money by addressing the issues yourself.
Of course, sometimes gurgling is indicative of a larger problem. If you’ve tried everything and your commode is still bubbling, dial up your local plumber. We’ll also tell you other signs that you need to call a plumber immediately.
Deep-Clean the Commode
If you think that your gurgling is caused by residue build-up, take some time to clean the toilet bowl as much as possible. Cleaning the toilet is an easily overlooked chore, but should be done once every month or two.
Scrub the bowl free of any visible residue and calcification. Pour a toilet bowl cleaning solution or diluted bleach into the bowl to sanitize. Baking soda and Comet also work well for cleaning drains.
Your pipes may just need a little clean-up before they’re back in shape. In some cases, a dedicated cleaning session may solve the bubbling and gurgling.
If you spend a day cleaning your toilets and they’re still bubbling, there’s a bigger issue at hand. Now it’s time to tackle the clogs.
Give it a Plunge
Your trustiest line of defense: the toilet plunger. This should be the first attempted solution to deal with any clog or blockage. Your plunger is a simple tool that can fix ninety percent of toilet issues.
When your toilet has started gurgling, though, you’ll have to take a couple of extra steps before diving in with the plunger. Consistent bubbling indicates a larger or deeper clog, so you’ll want to seal off nearby drains in the bathroom. The plunger will create pressure that will send the clog out, and the last thing you want is for it to escape into your sink or bathtub!
So, seal off your other drains with duct tape or other protective material before plunging. It’s better to play it safe!
That said, plungers have a limit to what they can do. They can only reach clogs that are fairly close to the toilet. Even then, some clogs are too stubborn for even the strongest plunger.
Grab the Sewer Snake
When dealing with stubborn clogs, a sewer snake comes in handy. They’re more powerful than your average plunger and can reach deeper clogs. You might already own one, tucked away in your garage somewhere!
If you haven’t used a drain auger since the nineties, don’t worry. Using a sewer snake is easy and can remedy most plumbing issues. Whether you have a manual or mechanical auger, it can dislodge even the most stubborn clogs.
Even if you haven’t needed one yet, it’s smart to go ahead and purchase a sewer snake. This way, you won’t have to call a plumber to tackle a larger-than-normal clog. It’s a vital tool to have in your arsenal!
Many of these tools have blades attached to the auger, allowing them to literally cut through a clog. However, even mechanical augers have a limit to what they can tackle. If a clog is too deep in your pipes or is inside the mainline, you will need a professional to come and take care of it.
Check your Vent Pipes
So you’ve taped over your drains, given your most enthusiastic plunge, and dragged out the auger. Are the toilets still gurgling? The problem may not be in the pipes at all.
Make a quick trip up to your roof to check out the vent pipes (or ask a friend to do it for you!). Debris from inclement weather and other natural materials could be the blockage affecting your plumbing.
You should be able to clean your vent pipe with a few sweeps of your hands. Bring up a duster or scrub brush as well, and sweep the vent free of debris. If there are trees hanging over your vent pipe, you may consider trimming the branches to lower the chances of more debris accumulating.
This is also a great chance to assess your vent pipe itself. Is it rusting? Does it need replacing?
Once you’ve cleared out the vent pipe, check back on your toilets. If the gurgling has ceased, you’ve found the culprit.
When to Call the Plumber
If you’ve tried everything and it’s still gurgling, call a local plumber. This means that the blockage is either too big or too stubborn to get out on its own. A plumber will have the specialized equipment and knowledge to investigate and treat any clogs beyond your scope.
Other signs that you need a visit from a plumber are:
- Septic smell
- Leaks or drips
- Low water pressure
- Overflowing toilet
These are all signs that point to larger issues in your plumbing system. Especially when paired with bubbling and gurgling, these signs mean that something is very wrong. When it comes to your plumbing, you want to address issues immediately.
Gurgling toilets indicate an issue within the system, and plumbing issues can escalate fast. Call a professional before the issues snowball out of your control!
We hope these tips have helped you ease your gurgling toilet woes. Bubbles and blips in your drain system are hard to ignore, and should be attended to quickly! Now that you know the important info about fixing a noisy toilet, you can proceed with confidence.
Whether you have a simple clog or a deeper issue, make sure you look for help from professionals. Plumbing is tricky, and it pays to pay an expert!
If you’re looking to replace your toilet completely, or redo your entire bathroom, look to Hanover supply! We are the leading supplier of home necessities and appliances. Shoot us a message for a free estimate!