When you hear the sink or your toilet making gurgling noises, this is a sign that you probably have a plumbing issue on your hands.
Worried? Confused? Unsure of what to do because your toilet is gurgling when your washer drains?
We’re happy to help so just keep reading.
Toilet Gurgling When Washer Drains: Explained
Gurgling sounds in the toilet occur because of a DISPARITY in air pressure, causing air to try and escape somewhere and pushing through the water. You’ll hear a gurgle when washing because of the air.
Think of gurgling as an ABNORMAL way of draining water due to a pipe clog or partially blocked line. This “CLOG” results in negative pressure and is the reason why you hear THAT sound.
This can happen to people more often than you think, but it’s important to diagnose the problem as quickly as possible — before it starts to cause a REAL mess inside your house.
There could be quite a few reasons you’re hearing toilet bubbles, so it’s important to take note of when you hear the gurgling sounds.
It’s also important to know that gurgling toilet bubbles doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is with the toilet drain hole or toilet waste line.
If you hear toilet bubbles while using the washing machine, then it means that your washing machine is probably the one affecting the negative pressure in your pipes.
It’s HIGHLY LIKELY for any water fixture and appliance such as sinks, washing machine, toilets, and anything in your bathroom really, to be connected to the same set of pipes.
If you’re mostly hearing the sink gurgle as well, it’s highly likely your sink is clogged. But don’t worry, it’s easy to soundproof your bathroom if you have the right knowledge and tools!
(A sign to look out for is if your sink or toilet drains water down slower than usual.)
The First Thing You Should Do
Besides checking clogs in your own sinks, these are steps you should take immediately when diagnosing the problem:
- Make sure there’s no other clog in the drain system at home.
- Check for leaks and seal off all your clothes washer drains.
- Make sure there are no issues in the community sewer line.
But if it’s not a problem with any washing machine drains or the sink drain line, and you’re still hearing a gurgling sound, the reason lies somewhere else in your pipes.
There may be a couple more places you didn’t know could clog and be the ACTUAL reason behind your toilet gurgles, so be sure to read through this and check carefully!
Check Your Connected Pipes
Other than the drain system and waste line, there’s actually an entire drain-waste-vent (DMV) system connected ALL THROUGHOUT your home.
The drains and waste pipes make up the lower part of the drain system and carry your household waste water into the main sewer system and septic tank.
If you didn’t already have them, a drain cleaner and drain snake would be handy to have lying around.
You’ll need them to keep your drain pipes and waste pipes CLEAR and solve plumbing issues. Yes, even a drain and waste pipe have the right to be kept clean!
What is a Vent Pipe?
Washer water travels to and from your washing machine, toilet, kitchen sink, etc., by way of air, creating pressure and a vacuum through a water and drain pump.
Since gurgling is the result of air escaping, we have to look at the AIR VENTS of this system.
Vent pipes/vent stack is an often overlooked but crucial part of the drain-waste-vent system that maintains air pressure so that every water fixture at home runs smoothly. This is why you should ways make sure your drain system works properly at all times.
Why is this important? BECAUSE…
It’s a pipe that runs vertically and ALLOWS gases and air to escape up and out of your plumbing system.
The main vent stack is the pipe that RUNS up your house (or building) to the roof, creating a passage for air in the pipes to make escape routes.
And just like a waste pipe, a vent pipe can be interconnected with other pipes.
For example, if you hear toilet bubbles while the washer drains or while washing clothes in a laundry sink, this means they share the same vent stack.
There’s also the soil vent pipe (SVP), another vertical pipe people refer to as the soil stack, which drains waste from the toilet waste line.
If you have a clogged vent pipe in your washer drain, then it’s going to give you a lot of problems.
Other Things to Check For
It’s easy to dismiss something slightly amiss at home, especially for those that live in an old building.
Over time, things will start to deteriorate.
These changes may happen gradually or suddenly, but there are definitely a few things to keep an eye out for before it becomes TOO LATE TO FIX:
- If you start to smell something strange or sewage like in your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry area, it’s ABOUT TIME to have things checked out by a plumber or your resident maintenance person.
- Check for any strange sounds or gurgling when flushing the toilet, using the washing machine, or as the water drains from the kitchen sink or shower.
These are definitely signs of clogs or something off with your DMV system. You may also want to just invest in a quiet-flush toilet or silent washing machine to get the problem over with.
Fully or Partially Blocked Vents
If you didn’t already know something was maintaining the air pressure in your plumbing system, well, now you do.
And it’s just as important to check for a clog in this part of the system as it is to check for a clog in the DRAIN LINES.
In fact, a SMELLY TOILET BOWL could be a symptom of a bigger problem in your vents rather than in the toilet drain.
To make sure there’s no clog preventing the release of air pressure, double-check if there aren’t any leaves along the main vent stack.
It’s also not unlikely for a small animal to burrow its way into the vent stack and built its nest, making it difficult for the vent stack to clear.
Aside from the aforementioned noisy toilet problem, BLOCKED VENTS can eventually lead to a potentially disastrous and smelly issue from sewer gases.
As water flows through the pipes, it forms an airtight seal by pushing air to the front a leaving a vacuum behind. Now, take note:
- If you have heavily blocked vents, this vacuum could grow big enough and begin to draw air through the toilet, causing the GURGLING in the toilet.
- If these vents are left unattended, the vacuum will eventually start drawing even water from the toilet trap, exposing your bathroom to sewer gas!
An Improperly Installed Washing Machine Drain
Most people are just excited to have their own washer at home. Unfortunately, some learn the hard way how important washer drains are. It’s VITAL that your washer drain works properly and is properly installed!
Some don’t even realize they have an improper washer drain installation until it’s too late!
If you find that your washing machine drains water SLOWLY, this could be a SIGN the washing machine drain was installed incorrectly.
It would also be beneficial to have a P-trap installed with your washer drain.
Fast Fact: A P-trap is a U-shaped plumbing fixture that drains water out of the washer properly while also catching debris that can eventually form a clog. And yes, a P-trap is a drain with a P shape.
Besides the washer drain and the P-trap, it’s important to have proper ventilation for both your toilets and washer!
Who would’ve thought it, right? How a washing machine drains IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT than you expected.
How to Stop the Gurgling
Although we recommend hiring a professional for the job, some emergencies call for immediate DIY.
After all, a clog-free ventilation and drainage system is indispensable for free-flowing water and fuss-free use of your toilet and washer!
Fixing a Clog
Most problems involving the toilet are caused by clogs somewhere in your DMV system.
You could use a PLUNGER or even simply SPRAY WATER down the toilet to carefully dislodge small blockages.
If you need to climb up a ladder to dislodge something stuck in your main ventilation stack, it would also be much safer to spray water instead of using a plunger.
To fix a clog in the washer drains, water might NOT be enough.
Laundry soap can harden and form debris that would just waste your water.
Instead, you’ll have to invest in a good drain cleaner or washing machine descaler to clear them out.
How often you’ll need to clean the connected drains or descale the washing machine depends on how often you do your laundry AND how much and what kind of laundry products you use.
However, for most users, you’ll only need to do this a couple of times a year at most!
Fixing a Leak
Leaks are always a pain.
They happen when a fixture is dislodged or misaligned or if the pressure causes a pipe to suddenly burst.
It could gross you out thinking about waste from your toilet leaking, but that makes attending to your toilet emergency as soon as possible even more consequential.
Luckily there’s a simple way to FIX A LEAK with materials you most likely already have at home or that you can get through a quick run to the hardware store.
If you ever find yourself in a bind, a quick bandaid solution is to reinforce any fixture, pipe, or drain system connection with DUCT TAPE!
Besides duct tape, electrical tape is also a good alternative.
- If you will be using tape on your plumbing fixtures, make sure to wind the tape tightly and thoroughly cover the leak.
- If there isn’t enough contact between the tape and the fixture, this could form a pocket for water to pool. This will cause the tape to eventually lose grip, undoing all your hard work and adding to the mess.
- When applied correctly, the tape will, at the very least, hold things together just long enough until help arrives to replace them with the new fixtures.
Final Advice: List of Things to Keep Ready
You never know when your toilet will start gurgling, so you should always have these things on hand in case your municipal sewer authority or resident plumber can’t get there fast enough.
And if you are a homeowner, it would be great to already have a trusted plumber’s number saved on your phone at all times and the following tools to be prepared:
- Rubber gloves (to protect your hands when cleaning)
- Drain cleaner and drain snake
- Washing machine descaler
- Brushes (to clean your toilet and anything else that might need a scrub!)
- Duct tape or electrical tape
Toilet emergencies aside, these are essential things you need to maintain good upkeep of your house and prevent any more problems. Best of luck!
July 12, 2021 – updated external links, removed affiliate links
June 24, 2021 – added changelog, updated title and featured image, fixed article format, updated internal linking, optimized content