Top 4 Ways To Fix Your Gurgling Kitchen Sink

Tired of your talkative kitchen sink? Here’s how you can get rid of the gurgle for good.

A kitchen sink gurgles when air gets trapped in the plumbing. Blockages or faulty installation are mostly responsible. Once the source of the gurgle is identified, you can solve the problem by either fixing the installation or by removing the mess that is clogging the pipe.

We show you the suspects, step-by-step fixes, and when it’s time to call the professionals. 

Read Next: This is why your kitchen tap drips when you run a bath.

The Reasons Why A Kitchen Sink Gurgles

Your kitchen sink might have a bubbly personality but it’s not a good thing. When a kitchen sink makes a gurgling noise, it means that you are facing the start of a serious problem. The sounds are made by trapped air – air that should not be trapped there in the first place. Why? 

Something is physically interfering with the airflow of your home’s plumbing. Over time, this “something” will worsen and damage your pipes or force water to back up and flood a sink. For this reason, regardless of the cause, a gurgling sink needs attention as soon as possible.

When your kitchen sink starts to gurgle, the noise is caused by one of the following reasons.

  1. The p-trap under your kitchen sink is clogged by debris.
  2. A blocked drain pipe or vent.
  3. A faulty drain pipe installation.
  4. There could be a problem with the air admittance valve.

Read Next: The number 1 reason why kitchen sink plugs fail.

The P-Trap Under Your Kitchen Sink Is Clogged By Debris

Most people will experience this scenario at some point in their lives. You wash the dishes and your hands in the sink. Maybe the poodle. Over time, bits and bobs like foodstuff, hair, and sludge start to nest in the p-trap, the U-curved pipe under your kitchen sink. This clump then traps air and also slows water drainage. The problem can be light or severe.

How To Deal With A Light P-Trap Blockage

You will need the following:

  • A plunger.
  • Petroleum jelly (optional).
  • A timer or a watch.

Step 1: The petroleum jelly can give the plunger some extra “stick.” Although this is not a necessary step, it could help you to achieve enough suction with the plunger to remove the blockage. This step only requires that you either smear the rim of the plunger with the jelly or decide to work without it.

Step 2: There must be about 2 cm or an inch of water in the sink. If your kitchen sink is clogged enough, the water will drain slowly enough anyway to make this possible. 

Read Next: Why your washing machine makes the kitchen sink smell.

Top 4 Ways To Fix Your Gurgling Kitchen Sink

Step 3: Place the plunger over the kitchen sink’s drain hole.

Step 4: Plunging often fails because people lack the right technique. That’s right, there is indeed a plunger’s pose! Don’t worry, it’s simple. Just make sure that you plunge straight up and down – and vigorously so – for about a minute or two. 

If your kitchen drain is blocked by a light obstruction, this should take care of the problem. But what if it does not? Let’s see what you can do for a more severe obstruction in your p-trap. 

How To Deal With A Tougher P-Trap Blockage

The best option is to roll up your handyman sleeves and get down and dirty. Indeed, the only way to deal with a tougher p-trap blockage is to remove the offending stuff by hand. There are two ways to do this. 

Your first option: Use a drain snake or plumbing auger. This is a specialised tool for cleaning a drain. Often enough, it is sufficient to dislodge the blockage. If you try this, keep the following tips in mind. 

  • The idea is to break up the blockage, not hook it and pull it back up to the drain hole.
  • Work the wire with enough gusto to weaken the blockage but not so much that the wire’s movements damage your pipes. 
  • Test for progress by running the tap. If the blockage is removed, the water should drain freely without a gurgling noise. 

Your second option: Remove the p-trap and scoop the goop. If you have never done this before, here are the steps you need to follow. Just a heads-up. Some p-traps cannot be opened by hand because they are glued. If this is the case, you need to call in a professional plumber.

You will need:

  • A bucket.
  • Pliers.
  • A long bendy wire.
  • Possibly a new p-trap.

READ NEXT: Top 2 reasons why your sink keeps clogging (and how to fix it).

Ready to tackle the blockage? Wonderful. Here are the steps (at last).

Step 1: Place a container like a basin or a bucket under the p-trap to catch any water and slush that might pour out.

Step 2: Find the coupling nuts. 

Step 3: Take the pliers and remove all the coupling nuts. There should be nuts attaching the p-trap to the sink and the wall.

Step 4: Remove the p-trap carefully so that the mess inside does not splash all over the floor and yourself. But sometimes the trap is so far gone, it might break during this stage and that is when you need a new one. It’s prudent to check the brittleness and condition of the trap before you start.

Step 5: Use the wire or any other tool capable of scooping the obstruction from the trap (you can also push the blockage out, that will work too).

Step 6: Thoroughly wash and dry the trap and reattach. 

A Blocked Drain Pipe Or Vent

Sometimes, the problem runs a little deeper than the p-trap. Grab that plumbing auger, roof ladder, and a plumber’s number – because you are going to need one or all of these things. Fixing a blocked drain or vent can be more difficult and a little dangerous. Precautions and patience will go a long way.

Dealing With A Light Blockage

If you are lucky, the obstruction is not a major one. Signs of a light blockage include gurgling without the water showing a major slow-down. The fix here is simple. Running water will create enough force to dislodge the blockage and restore normal air- and water flow inside the pipe. Just open the tap and keep it open until the gurgling disappears.

Top 4 Ways To Fix Your Gurgling Kitchen Sink

Dealing With A Difficult Blockage

Should you want to deal with this yourself but the auger and running water failed to help, then you can always try a commercial drain cleaner. A word of warning though, these products are usually highly toxic or abrasive to dissolve blockages. It’s critical to follow the drain cleaner’s instructions and to keep it away from children and pets.

Unclogging The Main Vent

A dead giveaway that the main vent is the problem is when somebody flushes the toilet or unplugs a bath – and the kitchen sink starts warbling. Usually, nature is to blame. The main vent runs up to the roof and sometimes leaves, dust, and other debris find their way into the top and settle inside the pipe.

Top 4 Ways To Fix Your Gurgling Kitchen Sink

Step 1: Take your ladder and carefully inspect the vent’s opening. Make sure that you use the right ladder for the job.

Step 2: You can use the auger to try and dislodge the blockage or pull some of it out. It might also help to pour a large amount of water into the vent but this is not always feasible when you are on the roof. But if you can safely do so, give it a shot.

If none of these DIY tips worked, then it might be time to dial that plumber’s number. 

A Faulty Drain Pipe Installation

A faulty drain pipe installation might also be a problem. It could be more prone to trapping air or make it easier for debris to collect. Unless you are really skilled in the plumbing, this might be a job best left to a trustworthy professional. They need to assess which parts of the plumbing system was incorrectly installed and then correct the problem which could be as light as a new p-trap or more difficult like rerouting pipes. 

There Could Be A Problem With The Air Admittance Valve

A common feature in plumbing systems is the air admittance valve. These devices are sometimes used instead of a vent and are pressure-activated. If it becomes trapped, stuck or clogged it could be the cause of the gurgling sound in your sink. If you find that the valve is damaged but it’s only a few years old, it might be best to call a plumber to check the rest of the plumbing system to find out what caused the damage – as admittance valves, in healthy plumbing systems, can last as long as 30 years. 

Most Gurgling Kitchens Can Be Fixed At Home

The secret to avoiding a plumber’s bill is to act quickly when you first hear a gurgle in your sink. The blockage or fault is just starting and chances are that you can fix the issue by flushing the drain, using drain cleaner or by cleaning the p-trap.