When you have a plumbing problem, it’s common to hear the annoying sound of your sink gurgling. If your kitchen sink gurgles every time water goes down the drain, it’s a sign that your pipes are damaged or clogged.
This gurgling sound happens when there is a blockage in the drain that creates air bubbles. Normally air is not supposed to be in your drain but in the p-trap. However, when there is a blockage, it creates a suction that pulls the water in the p-trap, making the air movement audible.
Once you hear this irritating sound, don’t ignore it. You should contact a plumber to come and fix it. If you are experiencing this with your kitchen sink, this article will provide more tips about why you have a gurgling kitchen sink and how to fix the plumbing system.
How Does The Plumbing System Work?
Before we look at why your kitchen sink is gurgling, you need to understand how the plumbing system works. Modern plumbing systems are made up of different vents and drain pipes. They have three main purposes.
- Vent air: Vents ensure that the water flows freely as well as protecting the water seal.
- Drain Waste: Pipes move debris and water
- Create a water seal: The water seal ensures that sewer gases don’t enter into your home.
A sink vent is essential in your home because it helps with draining as well creating a water seal. You could also have a wet vent which is a long pipe that extends from the sewer to the roof. When you have this wet vent, your sinks and toilets share the same pipe that drains water downward.
When you install the sink vent directly under the sink, you won’t need a wet vent. You can install an air admittance valve on the trap. Every fixture has its own trap that creates the water seal and keeps away sewer gases.
Therefore, when you hear the gurgling sounds, they are coming from the plumbing trap under the sink known as the P trap or S trap. While S traps are no longer installed in modern structures, the P trap is more efficient and fitted together with an air admittance valve.
Why Is Your Kitchen Sink Gurgling?
You can only fix this gurgling issue if you know why it’s happening. Here are some of the reasons why your kitchen sink is gurgling.
Blocked Vent Pipe
The vent pipe is connected under the sink drain pipes to safely eliminate sewer gas. These pipes usually run to the roof, making it possible to be blocked by debris, dirt, leaves or animals.
A clogged vent pipe means that the sewer gas may push upwards within the pipe drain and cause a gurgling sound. This is a leading cause of bad smells from the kitchen sink.
Dirty or Clogged Pipes
You need to watch what goes down your kitchen sink. The drainage is not meant to handle grease, food, oil and other waste materials that can build up on your pipes or drain.
When clogs form, they trap air which causes the irritating gurgling sounds as you pour water. Although the clog might not cause any damage immediately, you should contact a plumber right away to fix the issue before it becomes a major blockage.
When you have these kinds of clogs, it’s advisable to avoid using store chemicals that could damage your pipes.
Broken P Trap
To stop debris from entering your plumbing system and clogging it, plumbers install a P trap under your kitchen sink. When this trap is damaged or broken, there will be obstructions in your drains, leading to these random gurgling sounds. Therefore, if the gurgling noises persist, you might need to get a professional to look at the P trap.
What Should You Do If Your Kitchen Sink Gurgles and Smells
Once you realize there is a clog in your kitchen sink, you need to take steps immediately to prevent further damage. The obstruction can also cause an irritating sink smell. Your sink smells badly because of rotting food stuck in your drain pipe or when sewer gases leak in from the vent or trap.
A horrible smell from the sink can interfere with the freshness of your house. When this happens, here are some of the steps you can take to fix it.
- Use vinegar and baking soda: Pour some baking soda and vinegar into the drain. Wait for it to foam and pour hot water to clear the drain.
- Use a citrus solution: You can also pour a citrus solution that has lemons in the drain to clear the smell.
- Use bio-enzyme drain cleaner: a natural substance with enzymes will digest all the food particles stuck in the drains without further damaging the pipes.
- Contact a plumber: If you try all these methods and none is working, you should contact a professional plumber to help you fix the problem.
How To Fix A Gurgling Kitchen Sink
If the gurgling noises in your kitchen sink are a problem, there are ways to stop them. Follow these steps.
Identify the root cause
Your kitchen sink experiences a gurgling noise due to several issues. You can diagnose the exact problem by observing and listening to determine the actual cause. The common causes could be vent issues or a partially clogged drain.
On the other hand, if the kitchen sink was recently installed, some air may have entered if the joints were not sealed or connected properly. Once you have the actual cause, you can proceed with the fixing.
Flush the main vent
When you know the problem, you can now troubleshoot until you find a solution. One of the ways to do this is flushing the main vent. The plumbing system’s main vent is usually on the roof; therefore, you might need to use a ladder to check down the pipe for any blockages.
If the blockages are too far to reach, you’ll need a drain auger or snake. Drain snakes and augers are ideal for large clogs or cleaning deep within your pipes. However, since the process requires roof access, it can be complex and dangerous. In this case, you can hire a professional to assist you.
Check inside the drainage pipe
The other alternative is to clean the drainage pipe. In order to do this, you have to remove the trap and all the debris inside. Place a bowl or bucket under the trap and use pliers to remove the parts that attach it to the sink. Use a brush to clean the trap, rinse it and put back the drain.
Fix the P trap
If you check under your kitchen sink, you’ll see the U-shaped pipe that holds water and prevents sewer gases from coming back to your home. However, if during the installation, the P-trap’s distance from the vent and drain is improper, it creates a vacuum that can cause gurgling noises.
Generally, the total length of the fittings between your P-trap and drain should be about 24 inches or less. Therefore, if the distance is not set correctly, you’ll need to modify the piping.
Fix the air admittance valve
Some house drains are fitted with an air admittance valve instead of a vent. In the normal setup, every plumbing fixture is connected to a vent that goes through the roof. However, in some cases, this vent is replaced with an air admittance valve. If this valve clogs or breaks, air pressure in the system is affected.
Fortunately, it’s easy to replace an air admittance valve. They are usually about $10 to $20 and last for up to 20 to 30 years.
Use a plunger
When you have gurgling sounds in your kitchen sink or slow draining, using a plunger is a possible solution. The plunger sucks the air out of the pipe to solve the gurgling issue. For this to be effective, take the plunger, add petroleum jelly to the lip of a plunger cup. This allows it to seal much better.
Plunge over the drain for about a minute and observe whether there’s any change in how water flows. However, if this fails, you can try the other methods or call a professional plumber.
Flush the system
If your main vent, P-trap and air admittance valve don’t have a problem, you can use the simplest fix – running hot water in the drain. Let the water run for about 15 minutes and observe how the sink behaves. On some occasions, this simple method may fix the gurgling kitchen sink without using complicated repairs.
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Is Your Kitchen Sink Still Gurgling?
If you try all these methods but your kitchen sink is still producing gurgling sounds, it’s best to call a professional plumber. The cause might be too complex to fix alone. Sink gurgling might look like a small problem but it can be a sign of a bigger problem.
If you ignore the small problem, it might cause further clogging and force you to repipe your entire home. To avoid this, reach out to Hawthorne Plumbing, Heating & Cooling for plumbing services.
Looking to make some home repairs, but not sure where to start? Check out our list of home repairs related articles below for more information. From fixing a leaky roof to fixing a clogged sink, we’ve got you covered.