When you flush your toilet it will make a very specific sound. When your toilet makes an odd noise, you will know something is wrong.

What also may be confused with gurgling, bubbles in your toilet when flushing is not something you want to ignore. This bubbling is water going back into the bowl, and could also result in a phantom flush, (when a toilet flushes itself).

The primary reason your toilet is bubbling when flushed is probably that you have a blockage. You must solve this problem when it occurs because it can result in backup and an overflow.

Reasons Your Toilet is Bubbling When Flushed

Bubbles in the toilet mean you have a blockage that is causing negative air pressure, also known as suction, in your plumbing. When the air escapes it will go back up into the toilet and make a gurgling noise accompanied by bubbles. This blockage could be happening in one of four locations.

The Toilet is Blocked

If your toilet is blocked it will most likely be obvious. This will usually happen when there is simply too much waste to flush down.

The Drain is Blocked

This often happens when someone flushing objects down the toilet that shouldn’t be. This might include your child’s action figure, feminine waste products, paper towels, wipes, or cotton swabs.

The Main Sewer Drain is Blocked

This is not necessarily your fault, but it is definitely your problem. The main sewer drain is where all the drains in your house eventually lead to. This includes your kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and anything else. The main sewer drain carries all the waste and water away from your property to end in the city sewer system.

If there is a block in the main sewer line, it is most likely not something you can control. This might be due to roots growing through pipes, parts of pipe separating from one another, or a pipe sagging due to settling ground.

The Vent Stack is Blocked

When a plumbing appliance malfunctions, most people begin to look underground first, but this may not lead you to your answer. Instead, you may need to look up. The answer lies in your vent stack.

The vent stack is located on your roof and allows a passageway for sewer odors to leave your home. It also helps to equalize the air pressure in your pipes. This allows water and waste to move through them freely.

If the vent pipe is clogged, it may be due to leaves or even a small animal. This creates negative air pressure and eventually a bubbling toilet.

How to Solve a Gurgling Toilet

Use a Plunger

Before you begin to plunge, you should seal off all nearby drains. This is important because you will be forcing the air within your pies to stay there. You specifically want the air to escape in your toilet, which will help to bring up the clog.

Duct tape is a great way to seal off your sinks, tub drains, and any other drains as well. It is good to note that a plunger will only solve light to moderate clogs of waste and toilet paper.

Snake the Drain

If you attempt to plunge the toilet and it does not stop the problem, then you should next try to snake the drain. Drain snakes, also known as an auger, are an incredible tool that everyone should have in their home.

Most home drain snakes can reach anywhere from five to fifteen feet into your drain. They can clear clogs that a plunger simply can not. You can also rent a motorized auger.

These can go down 100 feet or more to really get into the pipes. The only catch is that you will need to remove your toilet. If this is not something you want to do, then call a plumber.

Ask Your Neighbors

When your toilet is bubbling, it is a good idea to ask if your neighbors are having the same issue. The reason for this is that if they are having the same problem, you will know that it is not a problem solely in your home.

Basically, if both you and your neighbors have a bubbling toilet, it means that the city sewer needs to make some repairs. Call them, and ask them to do an inspection. They should solve the problem.

Call a Plumber

Sometimes the solutions above can solve your bubbling problems, but if you try them to no avail, you may need to call a clumber. This is because the clog may be large and deeper than you think.

An experienced plumber can come and clean your drains while using helpful and specialized tools. From cameras that can go down hundreds of feet into your pipes, to an auger that can break through tree roots.

If your clog is extremely bad, you may need to remove parts of it. Plumbers can take care of all of this, and allow you to try a DIY project next time.

Prevent Problems Before They Happen

Rather than solve problems after they occur, you can take preventative measures to keep your pipes clear and prevent problems before they happen.

  • Only flush water, waste, and toilet paper down the toilet
  • Protect your vent stack from foreign objects going in. You can use hardware cloth secure by a clamp to avoid animals, leaves, and any other debris from falling in.
  • Have your plumbing inspected annually.

What Not to Flush Down The Toilet


Baby and adult wipes can seem similar to toilet paper, and some even say they are flushable, but they are not. These wipes do not break down easily, and can easily clog the toilet.


Flushing medications might seem like a safe way to keep drugs away from children or abusers, but it can have a horrible impact on the environment. Traces of medication have been found in rivers, streams, and lakes. Birth control pills have also been found to be connected to feminizing fish in the wild.

Cotton Balls and Cotton Swabs

Although cotton balls seem to be something that is natural, they are bleached and can cause clogs easily. Both cotton balls and swabs can clump together, and do not break down. You should also take the same precautions with makeup pads and other products made from cotton.


You should absolutely never flush cigarettes down the toilet. Not only are they filled with a lot of chemicals, but those chemicals can also contaminate water and hurt fish. Similar to cotton products, they can also clog your pipes.


Although it is a typical thing to place your dead goldfish in the toilet when it dies, it is actually harmful. It can easily harm your pipes, create a clog, or pass a disease down to other fish down the line.

Cat Litter

Cat litter not only contains feces but is also made of clay and sand, which can ruin your pipes. Cat feces is also terrible for oceans and drinking water, so it is important to avoid this at all times.

Related Questions

How often should I have a plumber examine my pipes as a preventative measure?

Having a plumber inspect your system once per year is a good preventative measure to take to avoid clogs or plumbing emergencies in the future.