Why Is My Toilet Bubbling?

Typically, your toilet shouldn’t be making any strange gurgling or bubbling noises. While the toilet may be bubbling or gurgling when you flush it, these types of sounds happening randomly may indicate a larger problem.

If your toilet is bubbling, you should investigate to see if there’s a reason to avoid having any major issues with your plumbing system. Below, we will explain the technical details of what is happening and what you can do about the problem.

Why is There Air in My Toilet?

Your toilet is bubbling due to negative air pressure. A normally functioning system allows air to flow freely through your plumbing. There isn’t any negative air pressure when air can flow freely, and waste can run from your plumbing fixtures to outside your home.

Gurgling is a sign that negative air pressure is present in your toilet. An abnormal suction level occurs, and when the negative air pressure is released, the air is pushed back up the drainpipe, causing water in your toilet to bubble.

Your drains, such as your toilet, faucets, and shower drains, all have P-traps that permanently keep water within the trap. This keeps gross smells from floating up from your plumbing system and into your house. When water is flushed through your drains, it takes some air, creating a suction. If the plumbing system is working correctly, your plumbing pulls air through from your vent stack to relieve the pressure.

The underlying causes and solutions of toilet gurgling include:

Clogged Toilet

A toilet is often clogged by paper products, toilet tissue, and human waste, but children sometimes get curious and flush toys. Other objects to avoid flushing are “flushable” wipes, feminine hygiene products, condoms, “flushable” kitty litter, and other paper products (besides toilet paper).

The issue can be resolved by pulling any objects you see out of the water. Deeper blockages can often be cleared with a plunger. To use one properly, completely cover the drain hole and plunge several times until the water goes down, indicating the blockage has been dislodged.

Clogged Drain Line

If a drainpipe is clogged, water will back up to the lowest drain, often a toilet. A clogged sewer drain may be caused by debris, a foreign object flushed down the toilet, or intruding tree roots.

One way to fix a clogged drain line is to use an auger, also known as a plumber’s snake, to dislodge the blockage. If using the snake at the toilet doesn’t work, you may need to snake the sewer cleanout on the side of your home.

Blocked Vent Stack

The vent stack rises from your plumbing through your home’s roof and prevents sewer gas from backing up by releasing air and negative air pressure. It also contributes to smooth water flow.

The stack can become blocked by debris and animal activity. If so, air can get pushed through your plumbing; its escape point is often a toilet. Unblocking the vent stack requires going up to the roof with a ladder. The safest approach is to hire a professional plumber who can find unseen issues and safely resolve the problem.

Municipal Sewer Line Clog

A blockage in your neighborhood sewer line can cause bubbling toilets and other plumbing problems in multiple homes. If your neighbors have the same problems as you, the local sewer authority must address the problem. At this point, it is the municipality’s responsibility to fix the issue, and out of the hands of the homeowner.

When to Contact a Plumber

technician working on bathroom toilet

You’ll need a plumbing technician if you cannot fix the problem. It is often hard to pinpoint the location of a blockage just by hearing your toilet gurgle. A plumber can use a specialized video camera in your drainpipes or vent stacks. This lets them see precisely what is clogging the line and whether a pipe is cracked, broken, or collapsed. Mechanical sewer augers can sometimes be used to cut through dense blockages and even tree roots.

Contact Black Hills Inc. Home Services

Our Olympia plumbing technicians are available to answer any questions as to why your toilet is bubbling. We’ll quickly assess the problem and provide drain cleaning, toilet repair, or pipe repair to resolve the negative pressure in your plumbing system.

Black Hills Inc. is also known for our comprehensive maintenance services and plans. Call 888-402-3514 to learn more.