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Toilet Bubbling? | Try These Simple Fixes

Toilet Bubbling? | Try These Simple Fixes

Why is my toilet bubbling? Does that mean something is wrong with it? How can I fix it? If you’re asking these questions, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn answers to these questions and much more.

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Toilet Bubbling? Don’t Worry.

When your toilet bubbles, it means there is negative air pressure behind the water. Something’s preventing the air from escaping. You’ll need to clear the blockage so your toilet will return to functionality. Some solutions might be:

  1. Plunging
  2. Snake the drain
  3. Check the vent stack
  4. Call the plumber

We’ll dive into each of these solutions below, so be sure to read on to the end.

How to Fix a Bubbling Toilet 3 Ways

Start with the most straightforward fix and work toward the more complex. Each solution is better than the one before, which makes it a progressive troubleshooting issue. But you don’t want to start with calling the plumber when all you might need is a good plunger.

Solution 1: Plunging the Toilet

Toilet bubbling while being plunged by a red and white plunger

Jon Schulte/Shutterstock

Finding a high-quality plunger will be the first step to this troubleshooting stage. Not all plungers are equal, and a flimsy rubber stopper won’t provide the force necessary to push through a blockage. And any of these might work:

  • Sink plunger
  • Toilet plunger
  • Accordion plunger

A sink plunger is better than nothing but lacks the rubber ring inside, allowing proper suction to the curved toilet bowl. The sink plunger and toilet plunger are easily mistaken for each other, but that extra rubber flap is essential for your toilet.

An accordion plunger is excellent for removing clogs but can be challenging to manage due to its awkward length and hard plastic. Sometimes it’s the better choice, though, because of the inflexibility of the material. It has more pressure with each plunge, clearing it more forcefully.

Plunging the toilet is easy. Place the plunger inside the toilet bowl, giving a slight tilt backward to allow some water to enter the plunger. Then make sure it forms a tight seal at the bottom of the toilet bowl.

Sometimes you have to push one or two times to force the rest of the air out from the plunger before it can form a vacuum and effectively move the air and water stuck in the drain pipe. Plunge by pushing down and up rapidly repeatedly until you feel the vacuum change.

Plunging to create a vacuum is effective because the force on both ends works against each other, and if you push with enough strength and power, the blockage on the other end is forced through, clearing the drain. Lift the plunger.

If it’s successful, the water will drain completely, and the toilet will stop bubbling. You can test this by flushing again as well. If it doesn’t work, repeat the process several times. Sometimes it just needs a little bit of time. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll want to move on to the next step.

Solution 2: Snake the Drain

Plumber using hand auger to snake a drain while standing a ways back from it

David Spates/Shutterstock

Your local hardware store carries an item called a drain snake or auger. You can push this long metal piece through the blocked drain. There are two types of snakes, so be sure you’ve purchased a toilet snake that won’t damage the porcelain on your toilet.

The toilet snake is a wire coil with a corkscrew end. It has rubber around the coil to protect the porcelain. Toilet snakes are much shorter than regular snakes because the blockage is usually within the first s-bend or at floor level. 

Put the snake into the drain and gently push it through until you reach a point of resistance. At this point, tighten the auger (usually a thin metal sleeve over the snake coil) so that you can easily turn the snake. 

Turn the snake slowly at first to see if you can gently loosen the blockage. As you gain more traction, turn the snake more forcefully. Pull the snake back toward you a little bit and then push it back toward the blockage.

Do this several times to break up different places. You don’t want to bring the whole block to you, but instead, you want to break it up within the toilet drain so that it can continue to flush down the drain properly.

Continue the process until the blockage clears. Clean your toilet regularly, and make sure not to put anything down the toilet that will not dissolve on its own.

Snakes can’t always get things like crayons and toys out, so make sure they don’t go down the toilet to begin with. You can always drain the toilet and move it to reach them at the floor joint if they do.

Solution 3: Check the Vent Stack

Plumbing vent pipe sticking up from roof as a solution to get rid of a bubbling toilet by snaking it

Artography/Shutterstock

The vent stack is the pipe that runs through the house from the roof and provides airflow so the lines can drain properly. It ensures no extra air is in the pipes, and gravity keeps the water flowing in the right direction. 

If the vent stack is clogged, air can’t get through. The trapped air passes back through the toilet instead, causing your toilet to “bubble” and “gurgle.” This reaction results from a vacuum forming within your pipes, making it impossible to properly flush or drain.

To check the vent stack:

  1. Climb onto the roof.
  2. Using a flashlight, look down into the pipe to see if you can find the clog.
  3. If you can see it, remove it. If not, you might need to use your drain snake here, too. Once you’ve snaked the drain, try the next step.

Have someone from inside the house flush the toilet while you place your hand over the top of the vent. If everything is working as it should, you’ll feel pressure sucking your hand into the pipe when the toilet flushes.

If you don’t feel that pressure, it’s clogged.

If you can’t get everything out with the snake, you can use your regular garden hose to try to force water through the vent stack. If there is a clog, though, it might not force it through.

Instead, it can back up and spray you or spray through the drain on the other end, making a big mess inside the house. Checking the vent is also essential. A clogged vent can cause sewer gasses to come back into the house, making you and your household sick.

Sewer gasses are toxic. If you notice a rotten egg or sulfuric smell, get the vent checked immediately. This issue is especially problematic in winter because snow can build up and block vents.

Things to Consider

Everything you do to try to clear the blockage in your toilet could potentially make the problem worse.

  • Remember that you should only flush dissolvable items down the toilet. Waste and toilet paper should be the only things that go down the drain intentionally. 
  • Feminine products, q-tips, cotton balls, and even baby wipes are not biodegradable and can cause problems.
  • Many places market “flushable wipes” as a viable and flushable option for hygiene. However, it’s essential to note that these wipes are not biodegradable either and are frequently the cause of blockages in toilets. It’s best to throw these in the garbage and not down the toilet drain.
  • Foreign object blockages can damage your toilet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many questions come up when fixing a bubbling toilet. Some of the most frequently asked are:

How Do You Fix a Gurgling Toilet?

Try to plunge or snake the toilet to remove the blockage. If that doesn’t work, call the plumber.

Why Is My Toilet Bubbling When the Shower is Running? 

If your toilet bubbles while the shower is running, the likely cause is a blocked vent stack. You’ll need to climb up on the roof to clear the vent stack, returning proper water flow, and removing the vacuum created by the blockage.

How Do I Get Rid of Air Bubbles in My Toilet?

Plunge or snake the toilet. Air bubbles in the toilet are a sign of something blocking the drain.

Why Is My Toilet Water Fizzing?

The fizzing is from the air trapped in the pipe. It means there’s a vacuum created somewhere, and the air has no way out except back up through the toilet.

Can I Use Drano In My Toilet?

While drain cleaners are excellent for sinks and other pipes, do not use them in toilets. There is a specific type of Drano made for toilets, but nothing else. They are ineffective unless they come with microorganisms to help disintegrate the material causing the block.

When to Call a Professional

Image showing how to fix a bubbling toilet featuring a guy in overalls looking at a toilet

Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

If you know your blockage isn’t organic, such as toys or other non-flushable items, you’ll want to call a plumber right away. Plunging or snaking the drain can push the object further and cause damage to your pipes.

If you’ve tried everything from plunging and snaking to clearing the vent stack and you’re still having trouble with the bubbling toilet, it’s time to call it in. Plumbers have more versatile tools designed specifically for getting through tight clogs, and they’ll be able to fix your blockage without breaking any pipes.

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We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

So, What Can You Do About a Toilet Bubbling?

You can quickly fix some of the causes of bubbling at home with a snake or a plunger. Other problems may need a professional plumber so your toilet doesn’t suffer damage. Troubleshooting is good, but knowing when to call for help might just save your toilet, your wallet, and your sanity.