Toilet Gurgling Guide

Do you frequently hear your toilet gurgling, or gurgling when you flush? This article is flush with information on why this may be happening, and what you can do to fix it.

Please refer to the following video for an example of what we mean by “gurgle.”  Toilet gurgle video

If you are experiencing something like this with your own toilet, the first step is to determine what is causing the issue. The four main causes are a clogged toilet, a blocked vent, a clog in the mainline or drain line, or a clog in the sewer line. Each issue requires its own unique solution.

4 Most Common Causes of Toilet Gurgling Sounds

#1. Clogged Toilet

This is the easiest cause of extraneous noises to fix – you just need to unclog your toilet. Giving your toilet a few good plunges should solve this issue.

However, if your clog is further down the pipe/not close to the surface, you might need to use a plumbing snake or an auger. In the event that typical methods do not work, you can try a few unique ones:


Soap can serve as a lubricant, to slide your clog out of the pipe. Pour a small cup into the bowl, wait a few minutes, and then flush. Turns out Dawn isn’t just for dishes and wildlife.

Different Plunger

Your dollar store plunger might not be the answer for a stubborn clog. Try a ball-shaped plunger, or opt for a variety that has a flange to form a seal around the drain. To get an even better seal, be sure to soak the plunger in hot water for a couple of minutes to loosen the rubber.

Coat Hanger

Wire hangers are outdated when it comes to your clothes, however, they are ideal for toilet maintenance. Bend one end into a curve, push it into the toilet, wiggle it slightly, and hope for no hang-ups.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Mix a cup of baking soda with two cups of vinegar. Pour this clog-busting solution into the toilet, let it soak for half an hour, and then flush.

Dissolve the Clog

When all else fails, you can try an enzyme product to dissolve the clog. Enzyme products work to turn organic material into liquid, allowing them to drain more easily and to unclog the toilet.

The best way to solve a clogged toilet is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Avoid throwing the following items in the toilet: paper products other than toilet paper, cigarettes, cat litter, baby wipes, feminine products, etc.

Be sure to check out our full resource on unclogging your toilet.

#2. Gurgling Due to a Blocked Vent

A vent stack is a special pipe that regulates your plumbing’s pressure and releases gasses. If the vent becomes blocked, negative pressure is created. This can cause an unpleasant odor around the house.

Leaves and animal nests are the typical culprits in blocked vent cases. You may need to climb onto the roof to access the vent, and then snake the line. Such activities are best left to professionals.

#3. Mainline or Drain Line is Clogged

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to fix a clog of this type on your own. It is typically the responsibility of your town.

This can happen when there is a blockage in the pipe, creating negative pressure and causing gurgling sounds and bubbles. If this is the issue, you may notice water backing up in your shower after you flush.

Mainline vs. Drain Line: What’s the Difference?

Drain lines are pipes in your house that all of your fixtures use to channel water outside. The mainline pushes the wastewater to the municipal connection. It is more challenging to reach a clog within the mainline, and is subsequently more expensive to fix. It requires more work, as in most cases it requires digging outside the house. If your whole house is affected, it’s a mainline issue. If only one specific area of your house is affected, it’s the drain line. For example, if there is a drain line clog on the third floor of your home, it will only affect that floor. If there is a clog in the mainline, your entire house will be affected.

#4. Sewer Line is Clogged

By the time you realize that the sewer line is clogged, you most likely will have other problems within your house to address.

Fortunately, it is not your responsibility to fix this. A sewer line is a line in which the wastewater is carried away from the house, and mainlines from several homes are connected to this. If you suspect the sewer line is clogged, you should ask your neighbors if they are having similar problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the toilet make noise when I’m showering?

This can happen if both the toilet and the shower are connected to the same drain line and vent. Either the vent or the drain line has a clog somewhere inside.

Can a full septic tank cause my toilet to make gurgling sounds?

Yes, it can. If that is the case, the tank won’t be able to drain properly and water won’t be able to flow. This can cause strange noises (i.e., gurgling) in your toilet.

When is the city responsible for clogs?

The city is responsible for the main underground sewer pipes. Essentially, if a clog is outside of your pipes within your house or property, it is the responsibility of the city.

Would my insurance cover my pipe/clog repairs?

It depends. Some homeowner policies cover these types of repairs. This is something to look into if you are in the market for buying a home, or are thinking of changing your homeowner’s insurance.

Our Final Verdict

Depending on the root cause of your gurgling issues, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. However, several causes are up to your town/municipality to fix – not you. If a problem persists, calling a professional is often the best way to go.