Like it or not, toilets make noise. While embarrassing for some, the flushing noise is something we all deal with. For the most part, it’s hardly noticeable, but if you start hearing a gurgling noise, something is not right. Even though you might not know the cause, one thing is clear — your toilet needs a check.
Why Does the Toilet Gurgle?
You might already suspect the cause of the sound — a blockage. Toilets use air pressure to allow water to flow through. Blockages create negative pressure, meaning that water and debris struggle to flush. As a result, the air is being pumped back into the toilet, making noise.
There are multiple areas of the toilet that may suffer a blockage, causing the water to gurgle. Some of them are easy to unclog, while others may require professional help. Before you start working — turn off the toilet water supply to avoid flooding your bathroom. Otherwise, you might have more trouble than you bargained for.
The easiest blockage to fix is the one located in the toilet bowl. Look out for any floating pieces of toilet paper or any debris, and dispose of them.
The Toilet Tank
Toilet water tanks are the heart of the flushing system. They contain two mechanisms: one that is supposed to release the water into the toilet bowl, and another one that fills the tank after a flush. Sometimes, those systems block or break down and so, will need to be replaced.
The Toilet Drain
A toilet drain block is usually caused by excessive amounts of toilet paper, or other sanitary products disposed of in the toilet. Clear the surface waste and try to flush the water. If you’re still having issues, then it’s clearly a drain blockage.
The Vent Stack
A vent stack is a vertical pipe that is used to ventilate the plumbing system. The purpose of such a pipe is to allow oxygen into the waste pipes while also removing any toxic sewer gases. Not only that but the vent stack equalizes the air pressure inside the pipes, allowing water to move freely.
Because it’s placed on the roof, the vent stack can often get blocked by leaves, branches, or even dead animals. This in turn causes the pressure to go negative, resulting in gurgling.
The Main Sewer Drain
All the drains in your house connect to the main sewer drain which carries waste and water to the city sewer system. Aside from the usual causes like waste and debris, blocks can also be caused by bad or old plumbing.
6 Ways to Fix a Gurgling Toilet
There are multiple ways to fix a gurgling toilet, depending on where the issue is located. From simple fixes to hard plumbing, you should give all of them a shot before calling the big guns.
1. Toilet Tank Maintenance
Sediments can build up inside the toilet tank, often blocking the flowing water. You should start by lifting the toilet tank and checking the color of the water. If it’s anything close to red or brown, you have a sediment buildup. However, if the water is dark, then you should clean the inside of the tank as soon as possible.
The good news is that a good scrub, using bleach and cleaning chemicals, will dislodge any sediments. However, in case the situation is getting worse, you might need to replace the toilet water connector.
While you are at it, you can also check the flushing systems. Like previously mentioned, those can break and will need to be changed. You can choose to change the whole toilet tank, but the cheaper option is to get a new flush valve.
2. Drain Cleaners
Sometimes the clog is small enough that a simple solution such as drain cleaners might work. Drain cleaners are chemicals that activate at contact with water in order to dissolve a blockage. You don’t need to worry about potential health hazards, as most drain cleaners use natural enzymes to break down any waste found in the drain.
Drain Cleaner Recommendation
One of the best drain cleaners is Disposer & Pipe Cleaner by Rejuvenate. There is no small blockage that will resist the powerful — and safe for your health — foaming action of Rejuvenate’s product. Affordable and well-rated, this lavender-scented drain cleaner is a great tool for anyone.
3. Use a Plunger
While you may have already tried plunging before, it’s possible that you have been doing it wrong. You should first prepare the plumbing system by sealing off all nearby drains. Doing that will block any possible exits for air. As a result, the only way for air would be back through the toilet, bringing any waste up with it. It’s best to use a plunger for light clogs, usually located in the toilet bowl or its drain.
Picking a plunger might seem simple, but in fact, there are several options on the market. Ultimately, the heavy-duty Neiko toilet plunger is the right tool for the job. A state of the art 4-step suction cup, mold-resistant handle, and an all-angle design are just some of the perks of this plunger.
4. Use a Snake
If you are unfamiliar with plumbing terms, a plumber snake is a flexible auger that can dislodge stubborn clogs. An average snake is up to 15 feet long, so it can reach much deeper than a plunger.
The most commonly used snake is the hand spinner. As the name suggests, it works based on a spinning mechanism. You simply place it inside the toilet drain and start spinning while also trying to move it forward. If the snake stops, it means that you found the clog and need to pull it out by trying to wiggle the snake back and forth.
Alternatively, canister or drum snakes are similar to spinners. The difference is that canister-fed snakes are much easier to push inside the drain. This kind of device is best used with medium to large clogs.
In case a hand spinner or canister doesn’t work, you can always try a much more powerful roto-rooter. Most roto-rooters can reach up to 100 feet or even more. The only downside is that you would need to remove the whole toilet to reach the deepest parts of the drain.
Tip: If you have trouble using a plumbing snake, try following this great tutorial.
Plumbing Snake Recommendation
The DrainX Auger Pro is one of the best plumbing snakes out there. The drum design and instructions sheet help even amateurs unclog almost any type of block. Not only that but DrainX includes a bag and work gloves so you don’t have to get your hands dirty. Add to that the great price, and you’ve got yourself an unmissable deal.
5. Consult With Your Neighbors
Although you might try everything you can to fix the toilet, sometimes the problem is not on your end. You should ask around the neighborhood and see if more people have the same problem. There is a chance that the fault is with the city sewer system. If that’s the case, a call to the local authorities might save you more headaches later on.
6. Call a Plumber
When everything seems to fail, it’s better to just call a plumber. Equipped with inspection cameras and powerful augers, they have the experience to deal with most types of problems. Not only that, but plumbers can remove and change parts of the system that are broken or damaged.
Toilet Care Tips
It’s better to prevent than to fix — use the following tips to avoid further trouble down the pipe:
- Avoid flushing anything other than waste — you can dispose of hair, wipes, or food in a trash can instead.
- Switch to a different toilet paper — some brands of toilet paper may be too thick for normal flushing, consider picking a thinner brand.
- Have regular plumbing inspections — this can save you a lot of time and money down the line.
- Protect the vent stack — you can use a vent stack filter to avoid debris and waste.
- Clean the water tank — use toilet tank blocks that release chemicals which clean the tank whenever it’s used.
- Don’t force it — while it may be fun to fix it yourself, if you ever feel overwhelmed, call for help. Otherwise, you might do more harm than good.
Related: How to Dispose of an Old Toilet
All in all, a gurgling noise is usually not something to worry about — it’s annoying but harmless. Unless your house has a history of bad plumbing, you can pinpoint the source of the noise pretty easily. Nevertheless, you should take care of your toilet and at least do the bare minimum maintenance. Don’t forget that a good, well-cleaned toilet will rarely break on you.
Do your research, and keep in mind that you should not be afraid to ask for help. Call your plumber, or ask your friends, someone might have gone through everything you are going through right now. And remember — you should try to prevent, not fix later on.