How to stop a gurgling toilet
Of course, in the grand scheme of recent global events, this is a very minor problem, but it’s really getting on my nerves. Why is my toilet gurgling? Equally important: what can I do to quiet the commotion?
Before coronavirus turned the world upside down, my toilet used to make noise just once in a while. The occasional gurgle, bubble or groan was unpleasant but tolerable.
But now the new normal for everyone seems to be feeling a little on edge, and my toilet is doing its part by gurgling whenever I flush, turn on the kitchen faucet ... or even look at it sideways. I’m convinced it needs some type of toilet repair but I’m not sure what.
So I repeat: "Why is my toilet gurgling and how can I make it stop?"
Gurgling toilets: Causes and fixes
I was relieved to find out that expert plumbers say gurgling is usually not serious and is unlikely to mean I need to have my toilet replaced. In fact, I might be able to fix it myself, depending on the source of the trouble.
A toilet gurgling tends to result from one of the following causes:
1. Mineral buildup
Over time, hard water may lead to a visible buildup of calcium, iron and magnesium in your toilet tank. That’s the orange fuzz you often seeing adorning the tank interior, which interferes with the float valve function.
The jury is out on whether it’s OK to get rid of this by cleaning the tank with vinegar (normally my go-to remover for any mineral sediment); acid may harm the flapper valve, which is made of rubber. To stay on the safe side, scrub with bleach or drop in a commercial toilet cleaner tablet.
BTW, frequent cleaning of your toilet tank is unnecessary. The only water which flows into the tank is clean, not sewage-contaminated.
2. Partial toilet clog
I’ve seen online recommendations to substitute paper towels if you have a TP shortage locally - bad advice! Thick paper, personal hygiene products, hair, poop or foreign objects such as plastic toys all can clog your toilet. You may not notice a partial clog, however, until you’re alerted by toilet gurgling and complaining.
For a DIY fix, plug all bathroom drains (sink, shower, etc.) and plunge the toilet with a flange or accordion-shaped plunger. If this doesn’t work, try clearing it with an auger (drain snake). Avoid commercial drain cleaning products, which can harm your plumbing pipes.
TIP: Cheap, flimsy Brand X toilet paper will often flush better than the super-heavy luxury brand!
3. Vent pipe obstruction
When your toilet vent pipe terminates on the roof, it can become obstructed by an object falling into it, such as a twig or pinecone. This blocks the flow of air through the pipe, causing a gurgling toilet. You might be able to either fish the object out with a length of wire or alternatively, wash it down the pipe with a strong spray from your garden hose.
4. Air or leak in plumbing lines
When your toilet gurgling is accompanied by large bubbles, once again, your first line of defense is plunging. This will often reduce the amount of air in the toilet drain. Otherwise, hire a professional plumber to locate and repair leaks in the piping which leads from the toilet drain to your sewer pipe.
5. Septic tank which needs emptying
A full or backed-up septic tank could be the cause of your noisy toilet. Confirm by checking outdoors for puddling or flooding above your septic system. Should that be the case, you’ll need to call a reliable septic tank service to have it taken care of. (Fortunately, that’s one toilet-related problem I don’t have to deal with!)
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.