LESLIE: Jack from Michigan is on the line with some gurgling sounds from toilet and sink. What is going on?
JACK: We have a sump pump downstairs in the basement. And when we run the washing machine or when the water softener regenerates and runs the sump pump, I have a gurgling noise that comes up and comes up through the kitchen sink and then usually the bathroom – the upstairs bathroom – toilet.
TOM: I bet you want to know what’s causing those gurgling sounds from toilet and sink.
JACK: I would love to.
TOM: It’s a lack of venting – a lack of proper venting causing those gurgling sounds from toilet and sink.
TOM: So, when the washer is discharging or the sump pump is discharging and all of that water is draining out of those pipes, it’s basically causing a pressure that wants to pull the rest of the water out of the trap, which is – there’s a trap in the toilet, there’s a trap in the kitchen sink.
JACK: OK. Yep.
TOM: And as it does that, that’s when you get that kind of gulp-gulp-gulp sound, those gurgling sounds from toilet and sink because they’re just gasping for air as that happens.
TOM: Now, if you drive down the average neighborhood and you see pipes that come up through the roof – plumbing pipes – those are vent pipes.
JACK: Yes, we have one of those.
TOM: And they let air into the plumbing system. OK. So you have one of those but for some reason it’s not hooked up correctly, because you’re not getting enough air into the bathroom or the kitchen, and that’s causing gurgling sounds in toilet and sink.
JACK: Yes. OK. OK.
TOM: Now, let’s – leaving the bathroom aside for now, in terms of the kitchen, there is an under-cabinet vent that you could put in that would supplement the house venting, that will only let air in and not let sewage gas out.
TOM: So there’s one possible repair there.
For the bathroom, you really need to figure out why it’s not venting properly. It could be that that vent is obstructed. And that has happened and it could be something as simple as a nest that got in there. But for some reason, those vents are obstructed or they’re not hooked up right, leaving that plumbing system gasping for air.
JACK: So would I have to have maybe a plumber come over and drop maybe a camera down the vent tube, just to check it?
TOM: Yeah. Or just a bright – I mean just a really bright flashlight, you know? Like a MAGLITE or a Streamlight.
TOM: And you could look right down there. And sometimes, you can see the obstruction but you’ve got to kind of track it down and figure out what’s going on.
JACK: I also have issues that when we flush the toilet, it doesn’t seem – the back of the tank, the bowl fills up with water but there doesn’t seem to be a good water level in the toilet itself. Is that all part of the problem?
TOM: Potentially, yes. Potentially, that could – it could be causing that issue, as well.
JACK: OK. So that could be related to the vent?
TOM: Yep. Exactly. Yep, it’s definitely a venting issue causing gurgling sounds from toilet and sink. You’ve just got to get to the bottom of it, Jack.
JACK: So, just got to determine where the problem is in the vent.
TOM: Where and how and – right, get it addressed. Get some more air in there. Yep.
JACK: And in one vent – one outside vent is usually enough if it’s operating properly?
TOM: Yeah. Well, sure, one main vent is typically what you would have. How many bathrooms you have in this house?
JACK: Just the one.
TOM: Yeah, well, that’s all you’re going to have is one vent. Yeah.
JACK: OK. I think that narrows it down, then.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Jack. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
JACK: Thank you very much.