Toilet Gurgling? Your 2023 Quick Fix It Guide!

Toilet Gurgling or Bubbling

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🚽 Toilet Gurgling or Bubbling? 

I know you are wondering what a gurgling toilet is and what causes it?

We spoke to our expert plumbers about this plumbing problem, and this is what they had to say.

Your toilet is making an odd gurgling noise or you have a toilet bubbling issue.

It gurgles and makes weird, rumbling sounds like it’s alive.

This mainly occurs after you flush or happens randomly.

Sometimes you have a bubbling toilet that won’t flush.

Should you be concerned? Yes, as this problem could be messier if left untreated.

The reason behind that gurgling sound is that there is a blockage somewhere.

This article will explore these issues plus their causes and discuss the best ways to fix them.

🚽 What Causes a Toilet to Gurgle?

Those strange gurgling noises are caused by the negative air pressure somewhere in the line. So when you hear these sounds, it’s due to a blockage somewhere in your drain pipes. Instead of air flowing freely down the line, it pushes back, causing those weird sounds.

Sometimes, this problem will manifest itself as bubbles in the toilet water. Either way, you have a problem.

This can happen when:

  • The toilet is clogged
  • The drain line or mainline is clogged
  • Blockage in the vent pipe or stack
  • There’s a problem with the municipal sewer main

If you are having any of these issues, it’s more than likely noticeable via a sewer type smell as these gases make their way back into your bathroom.

🚽 A Clogged Toilet is Causing the Gurgling

Plunging Toilet

The most manageable problem to deal with is a clogged toilet.

Sometimes you will see stuff floating on the water, shredded papers, and other things stuck in the toilet.

Kids can stuff large toys into the toilet, and since they cannot dissolve in water, they will end up stuck in the bowl.

βš’οΈ The Fix

For this kind of blockage, clear the things floating on the water, plus the ones stuck in the toilet.

If it’s further down, you can unblock the toilet with a plunger.

Ensure the plunger completely covers the drain hole and start by giving it a good ten to twenty plunges to see if you can dislodge the blockage.

Sometimes using a running garden hose down through the toilet bowl can dislodge a clog.

But be careful not to flood your bathroom while doing it!

If this is unsuccessful, you can try a plumbing or toilet auger.

Drain snakes (also known as a sewer snake) are too small and are usually reserved for smaller drains like your bathroom sink or the one in your kitchen.

Hiring or buying a plumbing auger can be expensive, so you have to weigh that up against the cost of hiring a plumber.

In our professional opinion, it’s now time to call in the professionals.

🚽 Toilet Quick Tip

toilet paper

A toilet is only designed to carry away human waste and dissolvable toilet tissue.

Everything else is not designed to disintegrate.

Therefore, paper towels, cigarette butts, feminine hygiene products, condoms, children’s toys, and literally everything else have no place in your home’s plumbing.

This includes “flushable wipes.” The manufacturer’s definition of flushable means it won’t come back up into the bowl after it’s flushed.

However, it doesn’t mean it won’t cause a blockage anywhere down the line.

Ask any plumber. Since the invention of flushable wipes, they will tell you that their callouts have increased significantly due to problems with “not so flushable wipes.” 

For example, a recent study in Ontario, Canada, tested 101 single-use wipes, and not one of them passed a flushability test.

Instead, the wipes failed to fall apart or disperse safely in tests.

You really don’t want to know what these wipes contribute to.

Flushable wipes end up clogging up the city’s main sewer drain systems and contribute to what is known as a “fatberg.”

These non-degradable products that are flushed end up congealing into a huge fat disgusting blob that blocks sewers. 

On a brighter note, a US veteran-owned company called Refresh Wipes here in the US has released an Eco-Friendly toilet paper gel that is applied to bathroom tissue.

Using a gel wipe in conjunction with paper would be much better for both your bottom and the main sewer system.

Expect to hear more about these types of gels in the future if bans on flushable wipes are implemented. 

A clogged toilet can also be a symptom of a toilet not flushing correctly.

If this is the case this article is worth reading: Toilet Not Flushing All The Way?

🚽 Want to Learn More about Refresh Wipes?

Refresh Liquid Wipe: Eco Friendly Toilet Paper Foam

Refresh Liquid Wipe

Refresh Liquid Wipe Free: Toilet Paper Foam for Sensitive Skin

Refresh Liquid Wipe Sensitive

🚽 A Clogged Drain Line or Mainline

Plumber unclogging with a garden hose at the sewer cleanout point

The drain lines are the lines in your home that connect your drain system to the mainline.

The mainline takes all that wastewater to your municipal main sewer drain pipe connection.

It’s easy to tell the difference between a blocked drain line vs. a mainline problem.

Problems from a clogged drain line will be limited to one area in your home, such as the bathroom fixtures in one room.

For example, if you have an upstairs blockage issue, the downstairs area will be fine, and vice versa.

However, mainline blockages will affect your whole house.

drain line blockage is caused by the same things that affect a blocked toilet.

These blockages cause the same negative air pressure, and you get the same gurgling and toilet bubbles.

The bigger problem can be if the blockage is further down the drain line or mainline, where consumer-style tools and equipment cannot reach it.

You may notice different plumbing problems, such as flushing the toilet and water starting to back up into the shower. This is where you need a professional.

Tree roots and debris can also be the cause of a clogged mainline.

The roots can be attracted by a drainage system’s moisture and warmth and creep through their holes or loose joints.

After feeding on the nutrients they will find there, the roots will grow and cause a blockage.

This is a serious plumbing system issue that needs to be sorted immediately.

βš’οΈ The Fix

A drain line blockage may be cleared using a plumbing auger if close enough.

If it goes further down, such as in the mainline, a plumber will send a camera down to find out where the blockage is.

This may require the removal of the toilet to tackle the problem.

They may even need to dig up your front yard or backyard to access the offending line and rectify it.

Definitely not something you want to be doing yourself.

🚽 Blockage in the Vent Stacks

Roof showing plumbing vent stacks

The vent stack is the pipe that goes up the roof from the drainage system.

Its primary purpose is to emit air and sewer gases from the toilet plus equalize the air pressure.

A blocked vent stack will also cause negative pressure, leading to the same gurgling sounds.

These plumbing vents can be blocked by animals building their nest there, debris, and leaves, to name a few.

βš’οΈ The Fix

To fix this problem, climb the roof to establish where the blockage is.

If it’s noticeable and easy to reach, you can unblock it yourself.

Anything further down needs to be snaked out. If this is the issue, it’s time to call a plumber.

🚽 Municipal Sewer Line is Clogged

Workers fixing a clogged municipal sewer line

If unsuccessful on all the other fixes, the last thing that can cause these issues is a clogged municipal sewer line.

municipal sewer pipe is what everyone’s mainline dumps into that takes all that wastewater away to be treated.

If you think this is the issue, speak to your neighbors and see if they are experiencing the same problems as you.

If so, it’s time to call whoever the sewer authority is in your area to do a sewer cleanout.

At this point, it’s their responsibility to fix it, not you as the homeowner.

🚽 Taking Care of your Home’s Plumbing

Phyxter Approved Logo on Service Truck

If it’s not the municipality or water company’s problem to fix, it’s yours to get those lines unblocked.

Need plumbing service? Don’t wait until your home is turned into a sewer swamp due to blocked plumbing.

Instead, contact Phyxter Home Services when you need a professional to restore your home’s plumbing.

Check out our page on our Plumbing Services to see if we service your area. We will make sure the job is done right the first time! 

Our professional plumbers in your area are trained and experienced in all plumbing issues.

So if you hear that toilet gurgling or see toilet bubbles, call us today.

Related reading: 3 Simple Reasons Why Your Toilet Keeps Running

Want to learn more about your home’s plumbing system? Feel free to check out our other plumbing articles.

Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

Russell Jones

VP of Operations @ Phyxter and Home Improvement Specialist

About our blog

Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

Phyxter is laser-focused on writing the best articles and guides to empower homeowners to get the best out of their homes.

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