What’s That Gurgling Sound Coming From My Drain?
If you’ve ever turned on the sink and heard a strange gurgling sound coming from your shower drain or turned on the washing machine and heard your sink start making a gurgling sound, you might be wondering what’s going on. Is something wrong with your plumbing? Are you facing a serious issue that could lead to an imminent plumbing catastrophe?
Gurgling noises from your drain can be caused by one of two things: a clogged drain line or a clogged vent pipe.
Gurgling from a Clogged Drain Line
A loud gurgling noise is usually indicative of a clogged drain line. There are plenty of reasons this can happen, and the number of drain lines that hear this gurgling noise should give you an idea of where the clog is located. If you can only generally hear it out of one drain, then that drain is probably where the clog is. If turning on the sink in the kitchen causes a gurgling sound in your bathroom, then the clog may be in your main sewer line.
In this case, the gurgling sound is the result of air or gas bubbles getting trapped in your drain lines because they can’t reach your plumbing vent. Every drain system needs to have a vent where gas and air that are separate from your sewer-bound drain water can escape, allowing water to flow freely. If this vent is blocked, it creates a similar effect to trying to pour milk out of a fresh gallon: it makes a gurgling noise and pours out slowly. However, if you poke a hole in the bottom of the jug, the air vent allows the milk to pour quickly and smoothly.
Gurgling from a Clogged Vent Pipe
In other cases, the vent pipe itself may become clogged. Vent pipes are usually pretty discernible by a quick look at your roof: they’re usually thin protrusions located somewhere near a bathroom or your kitchen. They are usually open-ended pipes, which means debris can fall into them and clog them up, which means the gas has nowhere to escape.
When this is the case, the easiest place for the gas and air to escape is back up the drain line, at your drain itself, which creates a bubbling, gurgling noise when the gas finally breaks the surface of the water in your drain. As you might expect, this can and does contribute to a lot of foul bathroom or kitchen odors coming from your drains.
Resolving the Gurgling Sound in the Sink
Are you at risk of a serious plumbing problem when your sink makes a gurgling sound? Generally, no. However, these can be signs of potentially budding problems like a broken, leaking, or even a collapsed sewer line. Likewise, a buildup of gas isn’t a good thing to have in your drain pipes so really you should get it fixed by a professional as soon as possible. The only way to know the source of the problem for certain is to have a professional inspect your plumbing line, find the clog that’s causing the gurgling noise, and then remove it so everything is free and open once again.
Want to learn more about your drains? Check out our other blogs:
- How DIY Drain Cleaning Can Harm Your Charlotte Pipes
- Three Causes of Outdoor Drain Clogs
- 8 Natural Drain Clog Removers
Last Updated: 3/11/21
About the Author: William Iliev, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Charlotte
William has been a trusted plumber and owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Charlotte since 2003. With over 15 years to back him, William has experience with a wide range of plumbing-related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in water heater services, tree root plumbing repairs, and more.