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When I flush my toilet the kitchen sink gurgles, what could be the cause for this?


Dear Judy:

Gurgling from a drain is almost always an indication of a plumbing vent problem. Plumbing vents are a network of pipes in your house that run from your drains up to your roof, and they allow air to flow into your pipes so that your drains work better.

You can have two types of venting problems:

1) Your vent is plugged.

2) Your vent was never hooked up properly.

If your vent is plugged or it was never hook up right, then you will get the gurgling depending on what is being used and how much water is being used. This happens for a very simple reason. As the water from the toilet drains down the pipe, it is pushing ahead of it the air that was in the pipe just before you tripped the toilet handle. This creates a vacuum just behind the water. Because the system is unvented, it searches for the easiest place to replace this air. The vacuum can actually be strong enough to suction the water from a fixture trap. It is extremely important for the water to remain in the traps below the fixtures. This water seal stops offensive odors and vermin from entering your house.

Look at your roof to see if there is a vent pipe sticking up. Does it look like it has any obstructions, such as a birds nest, or snow or ice? If you can't tell, then you may need to call a professional to inspect.

Blocked or inadequate vents can produce slow drains as well as noise. If none of the drains in your house are slow, but you are hearing gurgling at a nearby sink when the toilet is flushed, then take a look underneath the sink. If the trap is shaped like an "S" over on its side, the sink is probably not vented and the flushing toilet is trying to draw air into the drain line from the nearby sink when the toilet is flushed. If the trap is shaped like a "P" over on its side, with its horizontal outlet running into the wall, then with this design it likely is vented, but not always. If the trap is some other combination of multiple bends, then you probably want to call a professional plumber to unsnarl the installation since such plumbing traps don't typically work very well.

If you find that it is not that your vent is plugged, but rather, that your house does not have plumbing vent pipes, then you will want to talk with a plumber to see how easy or hard it will be do add a venting system to your particular house.

Hope this is helpful.


The toilet in my guest bath on the 2nd floor, spontaneously flushes. Turning off the water supply solves the problem but that's inconvenient. Why does it do that? I've had the "guts" fixed but that didn't solve the problem.



A toilet which spontaneously flushes on its own is doing what is sometimes called a "phantom flush." Almost always this is caused by water slowly leaking from the tank side to the bowl side.

There is an easy way to test for this. Just place a few drops of kitchen food coloring into the tank of your toilet. If after a few minutes you start seeing the color begin to show up in the bowl of your toilet, then the flapper valve is not sealing properly, which is allowing water to leak past it.

The flapper valve is the rubber flap or plug that lifts up when you use the handle to flush the toilet. If this becomes warped, or the wrong piece is installed, or if it gets coated with slime . . . then it prevents that flapper valve from sealing properly, and therefore water will be able to continually run from the tank to the bowl, and as it fills up over time, it causes your toilet to flush on its own.

It sounds like you already had this replaced, but there are a couple of reasons why you may still be having a problem:

1) the flapper valve may not have been installed properly, and so it is not sealing tightly.

2) there may have been slime or deposits on the seat where the flapper valve goes, and this is preventing it from sealing properly.

3) the flapper valve may be warped or distored.

4) if the flapper valve uses a chain, it may not be long enough to allow the valve to close tightly.

Hope this is helpful
Home Wizard

QUESTION FROM Corrine B Hinkle

It seems we have two malfunctioning toilet flush valves. Both toilets run after being flushed. I don't know how to fix this.
Help, please. I couldn't find the instructions on this (wonderful) website.


Dear Corrine:

We are glad to try to help you with this.

Here is a webpage that will explain step-by-step how to diagnose and remedy a toilet that continues to run after it has been flushed. And if you scroll down the page, you will see that there is even a video that you can click on that describes how to do this as well:

It's great that you are going to be fixing this, as a toilet that doesn't shut off (and in your case two toilets) can waste a lot of water, because they are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

One other thought is that it sounds like you've got both toilets having problems at the same time? I'm wondering if the cause may be that you live in an area that has high levels of lime in the water, and as such, you are getting deposits on the flapper valves (this is explained in the webpage and video from the link above). So you might want to think about treating your toilet tank for removing lime deposits from time-to-time. Just a thought. It depends on how often you find yourself having the problem of your toilets running.

Thanks for your kind words about our website. I noticed that you signed up for our personalized home maintenance reminders about 4 year ago, and I hope that you have found the changes that we have been making to the site over the past several years to be beneficial. We are in the process of making some additional enhancements, and we hope that these will make Home-Wizard even better for you.

If you have any additional questions, just let us know!