Why Does My Toilet Drain Slowly Then Gurgle?

residential bathroom with slow draining toilet
When a toilet drains slow, then gurgles, it is unnerving, to say the least. On the one hand, it may be a one-off event. On the other hand, it may be a sign of more serious problems.
There is a multitude of potential explanations for why your toilet doesn’t flush the way it should. It could be due to a clog in the pipes or an issue with the water level. To ensure you get rid of that gurgling toilet once and for all, here is everything you need to know about finding and solving the problem.

The Most Common Causes of Slow Draining Toilets

Mineral Buildup

The water in our toilets is not pure hydrogen and oxygen. It also contains magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Over time, these particulates can accumulate and block the pipes.
You can see evidence of hard water on the lining of the toilet bowl. There may be a chalky or rust-colored ring that grows slowly. That calcification can be especially problematic in narrow pipes where a small amount of growth can have a significant effect.
The Solution: You have a couple of options, depending on the severity. The most straightforward answer is to scrub away visible calcium buildup regularly. The age and style of the toilet will dictate the cleaning, as you may have to clean the rim feed and jet holes or perform a more comprehensive scrubbing.
Another short-term answer is to place calcium deposits in the toilet tank. These pills of distilled white vinegar (or other chemicals) break down the mineral buildups. Let the pills sit for at least ten minutes before flushing the toilet.
If you continuously have issues with mineral deposits, a long-term solution is a water softener system. This device treats all the water before it enters the home. It removes calcium through ion exchange. The different polarities between the minerals and the water softener system create an attraction that removes unwanted particulates.

Various Clogs

Waste Pipe Clog: The purpose of toilet waste pipes is to carry matter through the drain and safely away from your home. When there is too much material, though, it can cause a partial clog that results in toilet gurgling. After each flush, the water has trouble leaving the bowl, which can lead to slow drainage.
clogged kitchen pipe
The Solution: A plunger is your best friend in this scenario. Gently working the plunger back and forth through the waste can break up or dislodge the clog. If you are rusty on your plunging technique, here is a refresher.
Jet Flush Clog: The jet flush hole is also known as the siphon jet. It sits at the bottom of the bowl and releases water that pushes propels the waste into the pipes. Deposits may build up inside the jet, causing toilet bubbling.
The Solution: The straightforward answer is to insert a brush into the hole and scrub vigorously. A less intensive solution would be an acidic toilet cleaner like Zep. The spray helps you easily remove unwanted debris from the jet flush hole, though it also works on grease, lubricants, and oils.

Improper Water Level

If you have a gurgling toilet, it is likely that the water level inside the tank or bowl is too low.
A lack of water is problematic, not only for the low water pressure but also because it increases the chance of a clog. Each toilet tank has a mark on the inside that indicates the optimal level. All things considered, an improper water level in the tank is the most likely cause of a bubbling toilet.
Similarly, there is an ideal amount of water in the bowl. If the water in the tank is level, this outcome is likely an issue with the filling apparatus. A crack or leak can divert water pressure from the tubes, leaving users with toilet gurgles when flushed.
toilet with low water level
The Solution: Fixing the water level involves adjusting the float, which looks like an inflated rubber bladder. The float sits on top of the water, like its name suggests, and opens the fill valve when you flush the toilet. While each toilet is different, many let you restore the proper water level by adjusting a screw until there is optimal flow.
Fixing a low water bowl level is also straightforward. You can simply replace the filling apparatus with a new device. If you are not technically-inclined, here is a step by step guide.

When to Call a Professional

If you are using the proper methods and are still unable to get rid of the clog, it may be time to call a professional. The last thing you want is to cause permanent damage to your pipes or toilet. A plumber can diagnose and solve the problem while detecting any potentially systematic issues at play. Learn more about fixing your toilet by contact MT Drains and Plumbing Ltd today.
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Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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