Identifying and Remedying Gurgling Toilet Sounds

The toilet is one of the single most well-used plumbing fixtures in any home or building, and home or building owners naturally want to avoid issues arising in any of their toilets. There are a few signs that such issues may be taking place, however, and one of these is the presence of certain noises coming from the toilet – namely various gurgling, bubbling and similar sounds.

At My Buddy the Plumber, toilets are just one of numerous plumbing components we’re happy to assist with. We offer everything from drain cleaning and pipe jetting to emergency 24-hour plumbing service for any plumbing fixture in your home, including the toilets. We’ve assisted clients with a variety of toilet concerns, including those that are making gurgling or bubbling sounds regularly – sounds that are generally signaling issues of clogging or backups. What are the causes of these noises in your toilet, what might they be telling you, and how can you remedy the issues – either on your own or with the assistance of our quality plumbers? Here’s a primer.

identifying gurgling toilet sounds

Causes of Gurgling or Bubbling Toilet

As we noted above, the single most common issue a gurgling or bubbling toilet is signaling to you is a clog or blockage somewhere in the toilet system. This may be due to air pressure – toilets that work properly have specific levels of air pressure that allow for water to move properly throughout them, but those that are out-of-whack here will see issues. Negative air pressure, or suction caused by blockages that stops air from being in the right places, may cause escaped air and a toilet clog, which in turn may lead to these noises.

That’s just one example, though. Here are some of the other specific locations where a blockage or clog may take place in the toilet system, leading to gurgling sounds:

  • Toilet itself: Have you begun to notice floating objects in the toilet water, often waste that wasn’t fully flushed down? If this is happening regularly, there’s a good chance it’s the toilet itself experiencing the blockage.
  • Toilet drain: Probably the most common location for toilet clogs is the drain, which some building occupants use incorrectly. Toilets should never be used for materials outside human waste and approved toilet paper, but many people use them for hygiene products, tissues, paper towels, hair and many other materials – and this often creates clogs in the toilet drain.
  • Main sewer line: If toilet drain usage continues to be poor over a period of time, you run the risk of creating a blockage in your main sewer line – the line that connects all the drains in your home. Main sewer line issues may also be caused, in some other cases, by tree roots or other outdoor risks, as the line runs underground through your yard. If you’ve noticed gurgling noises and blockage signs in multiple drains in the home, rather than just a single toilet, you could be dealing with a main sewer drain blockage.
  • Vent stack: Most homes are outfitted with a vent stack, which is a pipe that runs off plumbing fixtures and ventilates them, moving their expelled air to other areas. The vent stack can become clogged, however, which will lead to negative air pressure and will often cause the gurgling sound you hear coming from your toilet.

Simple Remedies

In many cases, these gurgling sounds – and the clogs they indicate the presence of – can be pretty easily remedied by any homeowner. Some of the basic areas to consider here include:

  • Use a plunger: In plenty of situations, a basic use of your plunger will solve a temporary clog problem. Before you begin, ensure all nearby drains are sealed – this will mean that air cannot escape out of them as you perform your plunging. Rather, as you begin the process, the air being pushed down by your plunger will only be able to escape through the toilet, and this will cause whatever’s causing the blockage to come loose in many cases.
  • Plumbing snake: If the plunger is not able to break loose the clog you’re dealing with, you may consider a drain snake (or auger) instead. These items can reach up to 100 feet depending on the model you have (they can also be rented), allowing you to reach down and physically remove various clog sources.
  • Neighbors: If neither of the above approaches solves the issue, contact your neighbors. This may seem a bit strange at first, but if others in your neighborhood are having the same issues with their toilets, this is a telltale sign that the issue is actually in the sewer main – at which point you can contact your city for repairs.

Professional Assistance

However, there are some cases where none of the above DIY tactics will work. You may have a major blockage in your home’s main sewer line, for instance, one that requires professional pipe jetting or a related service. There could also be issues with your vent stack, as we went over above, and these are the kind that can’t generally be identified or remedied as easily without plumbing training.

These are the cases our plumbers are here for. We have extensive expertise on what might be causing the gurgling sounds and blockages in your toilet, and we’ll get right to the bottom of the issue for you.

For more on how to deal with gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from your toilet, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC services, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Plumber today.