Why Your Drain is Gurgling and What to do About it

Have you ever used your bathroom sink and immediately after hear a gurgling sound coming from the drain? What did you do? Did you ignore the sound or did you call a plumber? When you hear such sounds coming from the drain, do not panic. There could be several reasons causing this sound, including drain blockage. Some of these issues are easy to fix. You can save money by fixing the drain gurgling problem yourself instead of calling a plumber. Other issues causing your drain to make gurgling sounds may necessitate the services of a professional. But before you pick up the phone to call the plumber, read on to learn more about why your drain is gurgling and what you can do about it.

Bathroom sink and stopper installed.

Why does my drain make a gurgling sound?

The gurgling sound you hear coming from your drain is air bubbles trying to force their way up from inside the drain after the drain becomes clogged. Bathroom drains can clog because of several reasons, including hair getting trapped and stuck inside. You can unclog your drain using DIY means or by calling a plumber

When the drain is clogged, pockets of air are trapped inside. Once the water flows down the drain, this air will try to force its way up. This displacement method is what causes the gurgling sound you hear coming from your drain.

This is the most common and basic cause of gurgling in the drains in your home. There are other causes, some of them beyond your control, and which can cause significant damage to the water and sewer lines. For instance, if the sewer lines leading to your home and estate are not maintained, they could be clogged with time. The build-up of debris can push noxious gases back into your home. This is an unlikely scenario, so do not worry much about that. Let’s go back to the gurgling sound in your bathroom drainage system and figure out how to fix it. 

How to fix a gurgling drain

Follow the following steps to try and fix gurgling drains;

• Is the problem coming from one drain inside the house?

You need to know if the problem is an isolated case. Chances are that if gurgling is coming from all the drains inside your house, the problem is external. Your neighbor could probably be experiencing the same thing. If the bathroom drain is the only one making this sound, you know where the problem lies.

• Clear the vent and the drainage pipe (No vent? Read here)

If you have the required gear to clear the vent at home, feel free to continue to the second step. If not, here is where a professional may come in. In most cases, clearing the drainage pipe is not a tough task. It is just messy and may take time. 

Remove the grate at the bottom of the sink and insert a drain auger to remove debris that may have accumulated inside the drainage pipe. A drain auger is a long, flexible, metal coil that snakes its way inside the drainage pipe and removes any debris that may have been lodged in there. 

You may be able to clear clogs closer to the drain using a plunger. Place the plunger over the drain and simply plunge up and down for a couple of minutes. 

• Check if the P-trap is damaged

If the P-trap is damaged, it can create a vacuum or cause the water to drain slowly. The P-trap is an essential design element in the drainage pipe in that it prevents sewer gases from coming back into your house by creating a water seal. You can tell if the p-trap is damaged if you sniff bad odors after flushing water from the drain. 

The p-trap is located underneath the kitchen sink. If you cannot find yours, there is a chance it is underground and you may have to contact a professional (for more information on this, read here). 

• Call a Professional plumber

When you have tried everything to no avail, perhaps the best approach would be to call a professional. These professionals have the right tools, experience, and knowledge of how to deal with such issues. It is also good to call them if you feel that you may make a mistake and cause more damage to the plumbing system. They will also offer you tips and advice on how to avoid such a problem from occurring again in your home in the future. 


Does drain gurgling produce and odor or smell?

Yes, and no. If the P-trap is intact, it acts as a seal that prevents odors and bad smells in the sewer from getting back into the house. If you smell foul air after the water goes into the drain, it is time to replace the P-trap.

Can a drain gurgle when not in use?

If the drain is not well-ventilated it can gurgle even when not in use. Remember there is some water trapped inside the p-trap. If the ventilation is poor, the air will try to escape from here causing these gurgling noises.

Which sink gurgles a lot in the house?

The kitchen sink is the main culprit when it comes to gurgling mainly because it is the most used sink inside the house. The bathroom sink follows closely.

Why does my bathroom sink gurgle when the water goes down?

The noise comes from the air escaping from the drainage pipe. As explained here, the water displaces the air as it flows down and this results in the gurgling sounds you hear coming from the drain.


Gurgling sounds coming from your drain could be signs of trouble – or not. When all the sinks in your house are making a gurgling sound the problem could be with the main sewer line outside. If only the bathroom drain is gurgling, it could be clogged. The sound comes from the displacement of air trapped in this clog. You can take care of this by using a simple plunger or a drain auger to remove the debris clogging the drain. If the problem persists, seek the help of a qualified professional. 

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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