Michael Runk Blog

Why Does My Plumbing Gurgle?

January 14, 2015

After taking a relaxing bath, you remove the drain plug, only to be startled by a gurgling noise from a nearby toilet. You are right to be alarmed—this is not normal. All plumbing fixtures may start gurgling, seemingly without a reason or without a pattern. What does this gurgling mean? Is your plumbing trying to tell you something? There could be several reasons why this happens, but it’s best if you don’t delay calling your Maryland plumber for advice. It could be an easy fix or a serious matter but, trust us, you don’t want to take your chances when it comes to plumbing.

Plumbing Vent is Blocked

Yes, your plumbing system, although mostly closed off, has vents to the outside that help regulate water pressure and discharge sewage gasses. There could be just one or multiple vents, typically located on the roof. When a vent is blocked, it prevents the normal air flow through the pipes, so negative air pressure can’t be stabilized. This means when you empty one of the plumbing fixtures, such as flush a toilet or discharge water from the washing machine, you may hear gurgling in a nearby sink or toilet. The gurgling is caused by the pressure pulling air into the piping and draining the traps of water fixtures. While this is happening, it’s possible for the unpleasant and dangerous sewer gas to enter your home.

What’s Wrong With Your Vent?

There could be many reasons why your plumbing vent stopped functioning properly. Some of the most common causes have to do with the vent entrance on the roof. In winter, it’s possible for the vent to get covered with snow or even get frozen shut with ice. Twigs, leaves and curious animals could also be why your plumbing vent isn’t getting enough air. A vent inspection by an experienced Maryland plumber is necessary to determine the exact cause of the blockage.

Plumbing is Not Up to Code

Plumbing is a delicate system. Although the way it works is rather simple, you can’t just connect a few pipes together and call it a day. Plumbing installation requires extensive knowledge, experience, planning and precise execution. Unfortunately, it’s possible that whoever built your house (or did DIY repairs), didn’t follow either the code or general recommendations. Some of the most common mistakes in plumbing installation include:

  • Vent installed too far from the trap
  • Fixtures installed without a vent connection
  • Unnecessary multiple-trap drains
  • Inadequate vent pipe diameter
  • Unfinished vent system

Drain is Partially Blocked

This is the type of bad news no one wants to hear: you’ve got sewer blockage. The good news is that it’s not blocked completely, which the gurgling sound indicates. As the waste water passes past the blockage, it creates pressure and draws air from your plumbing fixtures, which creates a gurgling sound. It’s imperative to act fast, because this could mean you are a few showers away from a sewer backup.

These are the three places we would check first when diagnosing a gurgling plumbing problem. Hopefully, the cause is something as simple as a snow-covered vent. But even if it’s a sewer blockage, will take our time to devise a repair plan that will cause minimal disturbance to your yard, your home and your daily activities.

Contact Michael Runk Plumbing and Heating to get answers to your plumbing questions.

 


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