Do you know that a gurgling drain is not a normal occurrence? It’s true—optimally functioning plumbing systems should not gurgle. If you hear gurgling noises, it means that there is something wrong within the plumbing; and if gurgling is happening frequently, then you should start investigating before you have to deal with more extensive plumbing problems.

Do not ignore those gurgling drains any longer. Here is everything you need to know about noisy drains, including how to diagnose the issue and troubleshooting tips:


Why Do Drains Gurgle?

There are multiple causes behind gurgling drains, depending on the location and what is happening when hear the gurgling. Taking note of these instances will help you diagnose the problem, though. To begin, gurgling is is the result of something that prevents air or water from flowing through the drains. As water begins to travel along the pipe, air bubbles form, and that is the result of the gurgling or blub blub or any other sound.


So, in short, gurgling is caused by a partial blockage within a pipe.


Relevant: How To Build A Drainage Catch Basin

Diagnosing Gurgling and Other Noises Coming From Drains

Anything connected to your plumbing system could gurgle, be it the bathroom or kitchen sink, the toilet, the shower, or even appliances like the washing machine and dishwasher.


Blocked Drains

There are two kinds of blockages—partial and complete—but only one will actually cause a gurgle in your drains.


Partial Blockage

A partial blockage means your drains are halfway or almost completely blocked, allowing only a small amount of air and water to trickle past. Depending on the location of the partial blockage, the steps you take to resolve the situation differ. However, you can begin the process by using an environmentally safe drain cleaner that doesn’t use harsh chemicals or something like vinegar and baking soda to break down the blockage.


Complete Blockage

If you fail to fix a partial blockage, your drain will eventually be completely blocked. This can cause water to backflow into your sink or toilet or shower/tub instead of draining out.


Here are some causes of a complete blockage:


  • Dirt
  • Dead skin
  • Soap, shampoo and conditioner residue
  • Oils, grease, and other debris from cooking
  • Toilet paper
  • Hair
  • Small objects or toys that are accidentally sucked down the drain


If multiple drains are gurgling all at once, it typically means that the sewer line is blocked. In that case, you may need a professional plumber to inspect the pipes.


Blocked Vent System

If you hear the kitchen sink gurgling as the washing machine runs, it could be a sign that there is a block plumbing vent. These vents help air pass from the drains and reduce the risk of disrupted water flow. Drain and sewer vents are connected to every fixture in your home. Unfortunately, if the vent pipe is clogged, the plumbing system cannot operate.


Here are some ways to figure out if the vent system is blocked:


  • Smelling foul odors coming from the drain
  • Noting the slow speed of draining water
  • Gurgling drains
  • Checking the roof—where plumbing vents are located—for any damage or debris near the vent. Sometimes, birds could build a nest in the vent, so you may have to clear it out.


If you smell anything noxious, call a plumber immediately. The situation can become hazardous to you and your family. Most often, vent pipes are cleaned with a drain auger.


Blocked Sewer Line

As mentioned earlier, sometimes it is not the drain line itself but the sewer line that is congested that causes multiple drains to make noise. The gurgling will usually happen when a large amount of water is leaving the household and traveling down the sewer line or into the septic tank. Since this is the main outlet, the air that travels back through the system could affect every drain close to the sewer line.


Causes of blocked sewer lines include:


  • Broken pipes
  • Tree and plant roots
  • Clogs caused by certain items, such as tissues, paper towels, floss, Q-tips, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, diapers, and so on


Tree roots are bound to invade sewer lines, especially those that have been underground for some time. The roots search for moisture and will work into the nooks and crannies of older sewer lines to reach the water. When this happens, extensive repairs and replacements may be necessary.


Next, bathroom products. Many clogged sewer lines are caused by products not meant to be flushed. Ever. These items do not disintegrate in water or can even transform into sticky goop or expand and harden.


Blocked or Damaged P-Trap

A P-Trap is a specially designed piece of pipe that protects your house from the fumes that rise from the ewer system. Since these fumes can be hazardous to your health, you want to avoid them. Unfortunately, if there are blockages in the P-Trap, this means they will not function properly.


Sniff out the potentially blocked or damaged P-Trap. Flush a toilet or run some water to see if you smell anything. Since P-Traps can be under the sink or in a bathtub or work for the whole house, you should call a plumber to do the job.


Stop That Gurgling Drain Today

A gurgling drain is not something to be ignored. It is a sign that points to a potentially extensive and expensive repair, especially if one day that gurgling suddenly stops and is replaced with a flood. Now that you know the signs and causes of gurgling drains, start looking for the cause or call a professional plumber to help. Sometimes, the issue can be resolved swiftly, while other times might need a more experienced hand.