Why Does Your Drain Make Gurgling Noises?

When you fill a sink or tub with water and then let the water go down the drain, it should do so silently. If the water makes a gurgling noise as it goes down, this is a sign that something is partially blocking the drain. Buildup in the drain or the pipes that the drain leads to can make it impossible for water and the air bubbles in the water to flow down the drain together. The air bubbles end up being expelled back up through the drain, leading to a gurgling noise. In some cases, you will be able to fix this issue yourself. In other cases, you may need the help of a plumber.

Is just one drain gurgling?

If just one drain in your home is making a gurgling noise, then chances are good that the buildup that's causing the gurgling is located in the drain itself or in the more immediate, smaller pipes attached to just that drain. You should be able to take care of this issue yourself by following these steps.

  1. Purchase a skinny plastic pipe hook at your local home improvement store. This is a flexible plastic rod that's about a foot or two long and has a hook in the end.
  2. Insert the pipe hook into the drain, and wiggle it around a little. See if you can hook any hair or gunk and pull it out of the drain. Clearing this away before the next step will make it more effective. If you are not able to pull anything out, don't worry. There may simply not be any loose debris within reach of the hook.
  3. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow this with a cup of white vinegar. The mixture will foam up and loosen gunk on the sides of the drain. Let it sit for an hour.
  4. Pour at least a gallon of almost-boiling water down the drain. This will further loosen any debris.

With any luck, after following these steps, you'll be able to turn on the water and hear it go down the drain without any gurgling noises. If the drain is still gurgling, you'll want to call a plumber to come clean the drains, since leaving the issue unaddressed will likely lead to a fully blocked drain in a week or two.

Are all of your drains gurgling?

If every drain in your home is making a gurgling noise, this means the buildup is probably in one of the larger, main drain pipes of your home. Clearing these out is a big, involved project that should be left to a plumber with the proper drain cleaning skills and equipment. You can keep using your drains in the meantime until your plumber arrives, but try to avoid flushing anything other than toilet paper and do not use the garbage disposal. This will hopefully prevent any clogs or partial blockages from getting bigger in the meantime.