Why Is My Toilet Bubbling? And…How Can I Fix It?

Oh, the gurgling! It’s never a good sign when your toilet is talking back to you. When a toilet bubbles and makes weird sounds, it’s an indication that an abnormal suction (negative air) is building up within the line. The situation creates an airlock which eventually releases and pushes air back into the toilet bowl by way of the drain pipe.

When Is Toilet Gurgling Cause for Concern?

Weird noises anywhere are concerning, especially from inside a toilet. The bubbling typically occurs right after it flushes or when it won’t flush but sometimes it just randomly decides to speak out. But…what, if anything, should be done about it?

Reasons for Rumbling

It’s important to figure out why your toilet is making noises before you can really determine to seriousness of the problem. Potential reasons include:

  • Clogged toilet
  • Clogged mainline
  • Clogged drain line
  • Municipal sewer main issue
  • Vent pipe or stack blockage

Problem Solving Toilet Clogs

A toilet can become clogged with toilet paper buildup, feminine products being flushed down them, or when objects that are too large for the drain are flushed down them like kid’s toys. Fixing a toilet clog is easy…sometimes. First, try pumping it loose with a plunger. One trick of the trade is to run a garden hose down the toilet bowl to try to get a clog to dislodge. If that doesn’t work, you can rent a sewer snake tool and give it a whirl. And if all else fails…call a professional plumber.

Be careful when turning to liquids and powders that claim to clear your pipes simply by flushing them down the toilet or pouring them down your sink or shower drains. The likelihood of pipes being damaged by such products is high and the likelihood of them solving the problems as they claim to is low. There are, however, some excellent products but do your homework and be sure before you experiment.

Mainline vs. Drain Line

One of the main differences between a mainline and a drain line is ownership and who’s responsible for problems. The mainline of a wastewater belongs to the municipal principality whereas the drain line is the homeowner’s responsibility to repair. The drain lines connect your drainage system in the home to the mainline and the mainline takes it to the municipal sewer connection.

To tell the difference, you’ll need to diagnose what drains are being affected. If your downstairs toilet is clogged but the upstairs works fine, chances are good the problem in on your end, in the drain line. But, if neither toilet is working, the problem probably lies within the mainline. Once you’ve figure out which line the issue is originating from, you can fix it if it’s on your end or call the city or municipality if it’s on their end.

Flusher Beware

Many things that shouldn’t be flushed are obvious like kid toys and kittens (ha). But other items advertise they can be flushed although they shouldn’t be such as tampons and “flushable” personal hygiene and baby wipes. Even the type of toilet paper you use matters, especially if you have a septic system.
You can’t be too cautious when it comes to your toilet. It is one of the most underappreciated items in a home…when it’s working. It’s mostly when it’s gurgling and/or clogged that we realize just how vital of a fixture it is.

Problems that can occur with the drain lines include roots growing into the pipes, clogs deep within the pipe, and faulty pipes and parts. You can use tools and equipment designed for non-professionals but you are likely to waste your money if the problem is very far into the lines. When it’s time to call out a plumber, it’s just time. Delaying the inevitable may cost you more money in the long run.

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