It’s not unusual for houses to have strange noises now and then. Maybe there’s some creaking in the walls as the house begins to settle. Maybe you hear noises in the vents shortly after the heater turns off. Maybe there’s a clicking in the dishwasher because there’s a stray piece of food that’s making its way toward the drain.
For the most part, if your home is in good condition, little noises here and there is nothing to worry about. However, there are, of course, some noises that can be a cause for concern. Let’s take a look at the reasons why your sink could gurgle.
How The Gurgle Works
When water moves through the pipes in your plumbing system, it’s replaced by air, which allows the water to circulate. Every pipe in your home has a venting system to allow air to circulate. If air can’t move through the pipe, it becomes a vacuum and that’s what causes the gurgling noise. That gurgle, obviously, will indicate that there is a problem with the flow of air through the pipes. This problem comes from one of two places: either the drain itself or the vent system in the pipes.
The Problem in Two Places
So what is it that actually causes the sound in the drain? There are normally a couple of different causes for drain gurgling. The most common issue that causes drain gurgling is a clog in the pipes. Depending on what sink is having the issue, the culprit causing this could be anything from food debris to hair to just an accumulation of grime and dirt. The good news is this particular type of drainage issue can potentially be solved quickly if you take action soon enough. A good drain cleaner could be just the thing you need to get rid of small, annoying clogs quickly. If you don’t, then you could be facing some bigger plumbing issues and you may have to call in a professional.
The other most common cause for gurgling drains is an issue with the vent pipes. Vent pipes go out through your roof from your sink drain to allow gas from your sewer system to escape. It’s not out of the question to have something fall from above & block that pipe. This could be dirt, leaves, or outdoor debris that could cause that strange noise in your drain. If you have a clog in one of the vent pipes, unless you are a professional yourself, it’s really best to leave that issue to a plumber.
How To Fix and Prevent the Gurgle
If the cause of the sink gurgle is a clog, good news! This is something you can handle yourself. There are a number of tools at your disposal (if you’ll forgive the pun) to help keep your plumbing flowing strong.
The buildup of hair, soap scum, food, and other debris is simply a fact of life; it’s part of living at home. Preventative maintenance is fairly simple when it comes to sinks. Keep in mind, though, it’s not a good idea to use commercial drain cleaners for regular maintenance. Commercial drain cleaners have their uses in getting rid of plugs, and this will be addressed in just a moment.
For preventative maintenance, you’re going to want to use something considerably less harsh. Using commercial drain cleaners excessively can corrode pipes prematurely, which causes leaks and could lead to bigger issues. Instead, for regular maintenance and even with breaking up small clogs, a simple solution of baking soda and vinegar can be surprisingly effective.
By cleaning the pipes regularly with a mild cleaning solution, you can keep the plumbing not only free of gurgle causers like debris, but it helps kill off any obnoxious odors. Plus, since it’s a milder solution, your pipes will stay in better shape for longer.
You can break up clogs a number of different ways, including commercial cleaners. You can also use a small plunger to help break up the clog and get it moving. A quality drain snake can also help extract or further break down clogs.
Once you’ve used one of these methods to break up the clog causing the gurgling noise, try running the sink for a few minutes to see if everything is draining properly. If everything flows well and the drain flows quickly again, you’re in the clear. However, if you’re still experiencing some issues, that could mean A: That there’s something else wrong with the pipes in the form of a clog or B: There’s something wrong with the vent system.
If you’re still hearing gurgling and you don’t feel you have the knowledge to get your pipes back into tip-top shape, please do not be afraid to call in a professional plumber. They are trained on what to look for and how to fix it. Yes, there’s a significant cost in hiring a professional. However, that’s nothing compared to the possible costs of damaging your plumbing or another part of your house by doing it yourself and failing in the process.
The best way to prevent clogs, to begin with, is to watch what you put down the drain. Avoid throwing coffee grounds down the drain. Store cooking grease in old glass jars or coffee cans. Install screens over the drains to catch any loose debris, food bits, or other grime and keep your drains clear. Every time you use your sink, consider running some hot water down the drain after every use. This clears out any excess oils or grease that might have accidentally found its way down the drain and prevents it from building up and creating clogs in the first place.
It’s easy to equip yourself with all the tools you’ll need to keep your sink from clogging. If that gurgle does pop up in your sink, though, you’ll know how to fix it and prevent it from happening ever again!