Why Does My Toilet Gurgle?

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Gurgling sounds coming out of your toilet can be startling. This is more than just an annoyance. You can call it a cry for help from your plumbing system. Is it a mischievous ghost or something far more tangible? Whatever the cause, we’ll uncover it and provide you with practical solutions to stop this noise.

Reasons for a Gurgling Toilet

Blocked Drain Vent

In a properly vented system, air enters through the vent to replace the air displaced by water. This happens when it flows through the plumbing pipes to ensure smooth drainage. In case of a blockage, air fails to flow in the vent to replace the displaced air. This creates a negative pressure in the pipes, which has a vacuum effect and results in air being trapped in them.

When the air escapes through the nearest available fixture, which is usually the toilet, you hear a gurgling sound coming out of it.

Clogged Sewer Line

A sewer line carries wastewater from your toilet to the sewer system or septic tank. Like any other plumbing pipe, it can block, and water struggles to pass through it. Air bubbles then form, trying to escape through the toilet and making a gurgling noise.

Partial Blockage in the Toilet Trap

The toilet trap is an S-shaped pipe in the toilet bowl that stops sewer gases from passing into your property by maintaining a water seal.

Sometimes, this trap can become partially obstructed by different objects and materials. This disturbs the smooth passage of waste and water through the plumbing system, leading to air bubbles and gurgling noises.

Low Water Levels in the Toilet Bowl

If the water level in the toilet bowl is too low, it can’t effectively block sewer gases, which then escape through the bowl, creating gurgling noises.

Septic Tank Issues

A septic tank that is full or failing drain field can create back pressure in the plumbing system. This pressure can also force air out through the toilet, and you hear it gurgling.

How Do You Fix a Gurgling Toilet?

Plunge the Toilet

A plunger can effectively fix gurgles from a minor blockage in the toilet trap or the nearby drain lines:

  1. Position the plunger (with a flange or extension) over the toilet drain opening so that it covers the hole completely.
  2. Submerge the plunger in enough water for a good seal.
  3. Press down firmly and slowly at first. Then, use force in the plunging motion to create suction. This will clear any clogs in the toilet trap or drain lines.
  4. If the first attempt fails, redo the plunging several times.
  5. After plunging, flush the toilet to see if the gurgling has stopped.

Snake the Drain

  1. A plumbing snake or auger is easily available. They can navigate through the toilet’s trap and drain without damaging the porcelain.
  2. First, turn off the supply of water to the affected toilet.
  3. Then, use a small bucket to rid of excessive water from the toilet bowl.
  4. Carefully push the snake gently into the toilet drain opening.
  5. Rotate the handle clockwise as you feed it further into the drain.
  6. When you feel resistance, continue to rotate and push the snake forward so that the snake’s tip breaks up or grabs onto the blockage.
  7. Once you feel resistance lessen or hear the snake moving freely, retract it slowly to fix the gurgling.

Clean the Vent Stack

  1. Climb on the roof. Make sure to use a ladder tall enough to give you access to the top edge of your property.  
  2. Locate the vent stack (a vertical pipe with an open end) above the bathroom.
  3. Use your hand to clear visible obstructions like bird’s nests, leaves, or snow.
  4. Next, use a flashlight to peel at the first few feet.
  5. If other debris is found, use a sink drain snake to pull them up. 
  6. In case loose debris is left, grab a garden hose and flush out the vent with low-volume water.  
  7. Now go down to the bathroom, flush the toilet, and check whether this fixes the gurgling noises.

Fix Low Water Level 

Raise the float or adjust the fill valve in the toilet tank to make sure enough water enters the bowl after each flush. This will maintain proper functionality and prevent sewer gas from escaping and causing gurgling.

Should I Call a Plumber for a Gurgling Toilet?

Most of the time, gurgling often is a symptom of deeper plumbing problems like a blocked sewer line, clogged vent pipes, or issues with the toilet trap. If plunging or snaking fails, you should call a plumbing service. They can accurately diagnose the root cause using specialized tools and expertise. Prompt and professional intervention can prevent more damage to your plumbing and ensure your toilet functions properly without noise or drainage issues. It’s a proactive step to maintain your residential and commercial plumbing efficiency and avoid potentially costly repairs in the future.

TIP: Always make sure your septic system is properly maintained and pumped regularly by a trained professional to prevent back pressure problems.


In conclusion, understanding why your toilet gurgles is essential to maintaining a smoothly functioning plumbing system. Whether it’s due to a blocked sewer line, clogged vent pipes, a partial blockage in the toilet trap, or other issues, identifying the root cause allows for timely and effective solutions. Regular maintenance, such as snaking drains, cleaning vent stacks, and seeking professional help when needed, ensures optimal performance and prevents further complications. By addressing gurgling issues promptly, you can restore peace and efficiency to your bathroom, ensuring a comfortable and hassle-free living environment for years to come.