If you have noticed your kitchen sink making a gurgling sound it means there is a problem somewhere in your plumbing system. This is most likely to be a blockage or partial blockage. Don’t ignore the sound because it won’t go away on its own, it will only get worse.
A gurgling sound in the kitchen sink is a sign that the pipes are clogged or backed up. There could also be a loose connection or damage somewhere along the system. It is worth troubleshooting the problem and fixing the issue to prevent bigger problems.
What Causes Gurgling in the Kitchen Sink?
A gurgling sound from the kitchen sink can be due to a few different things but more often than not it is the result of a blockage. Fortunately, the most common issues are quick and easy to locate and fix. There are 3 main causes of a gurgling kitchen sink:
A Clogged Drain Pipe
It is quite common for food particles, grease, oil and other substances to end up in the drain (even in small amounts). Over time these particles can form clogs and obstruct the pipe. A clog stops the water from draining smoothly and causes air to become trapped which results in the gurgling sound you hear.
A Blocked Vent Pipe
The vent pipe connects under the sink to get rid of sewer gas. This pipe runs up to the roof and can become blocked by leaves, birds nests and other debris. If the vent pipe becomes blocked it can result in the gas pushing up inside the pipe which causes the gurgling sound.
A Damaged or Broken P-Trap
The P-trap is the U-shaped pipe underneath the sink drains. It helps to catch debris and stop sewer gases from coming back up through the sink. With a broken or damaged, the gurgling sound is due to air movement in the pipes when there shouldn’t be air there.
7 Ways You Can Treat Kitchen Sink Gurgles and Smells
Treating a gurgling noise in the kitchen sink can be easy but it depends on the extent of the issue. Here are 7 ways you can treat the problem:
1) Use a Chemical Clog Remover
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you could try to clear the potential blockage using a chemical cleaner. These are strong cleaners that are specifically for sink drains.
- First, choose a cleaning product that is compatible with your system
- Then, follow the instructions on the label
- Now pour the specified amount of cleaner into the drain and leave it to work
- After the specified amount of time, run hot water through the system
- Wait to see if the drain gurgles or smells
2) Use Vinegar and Baking Soda To Remove Blockages
If you’d rather not use chemicals but you want to clear the problem without using tools and taking pipes apart, try this:
- Pour a couple of cups of baking soda into the drain followed by a couple of cups of hot water
- Now you will need to wait for a few minutes
- Pour another cup of baking soda into the sink
- Pour vinegar into the sink
- Cover the drain as the solution is going to foam up
- Leave it to work for 5 minutes
- Pour hot water into the drain to help clear out debris
- Run the water and see if the sink still gurgles or if the smells are still there
3) Use a Plunger to Clear the Sink Drain Blockage
If the cleaning products have not had the desired effect, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with the problem:
- Before you use the plunger, put some water into the drain and close off the overflow with a wet cloth or some duct tape
- Fill the sink up so the water is around 4 inches high
- Place the plunger over the drain and pump while keeping the drain covered
- Repeat until the drain is unclogged
4) Use a Drain Snake
If the blockage is stubborn then you may need to use a drain snake as this lets you get deeper into the drains to find the problem. The drain snake you purchase needs to suit the size and type of drain you have so keep this in mind when choosing one.
- Insert the drain snake into the kitchen sink
- While rotating the drain snake, move the cable down the drain slowly
- Keep on going until you reach the clog
- Now rotate the drain snake faster to break down the clog
- Put some water down the drain to check if the clog is gone
- If the clog is cleared, slowly pull the cleaner back up the pipe
- Run some hot water to see if the sink gurgles
5) Remove the P-Trap and Clear Debris
If the plunger and drain cleaner hasn’t worked, the issue could be in the P-Trap. Try this:
- Place a bucket underneath the P-Trap
- Cover a pipe wrench with a cloth and use it to unmount the P-Trap pipe
- Take it off (be careful as there should be some water in the P-Trap so make sure the water goes into the bucket)
- Inspect the P-Trap for any damage or breaks
- If undamaged, clean any debris from inside the P-Trap with your hands or a small brush. If the P-trap is in bad condition then you may want to replace it with a new one.
- Put the P-trap back on and secure it.
- Run the tap and check for any leaks. Once the P-trap is securely in position and there are no leaks, see if the sink is still gurgling.
6) Check the Air Admittance Valve
The air admittance valve is rarely the issue but it is worth checking if you’ve got this far and the problem is unsolved.
- Locate the air admittance valve. It is on the pipe between the P-trap and the drain line.
- Remove the valve
- Clean it carefully with warm soapy water and a wire
- If the valve is damaged or worn, replace it with a new one
- Reattach the valve
- Run water to check if the sink is still gurgling
7) Check and Clear the Vent Pipe
The issue may be with the vent pipe which runs up to the roof. Only try to check this yourself if you can do so safely.
- First, use a ladder to go up to the roof (take a flashlight, pipe cleaner and the garden hose with you)
- Second, locate the main vent pipe
- Next, remove any debris you see. The flashlight will help you check inside the pipe for blockages.
- Use the hose to help flush out any debris
- It is best to contact a professional to come and repair a damaged vent
How to Fix a Gurgling Kitchen Sink
The way you fix a gurgling sink depends on the cause. Below we look at the most common problems and the solutions:
Sink Drain Blockage
- Sink cleaner
- Auger or drain snake
- Pour the sink cleaner into the plughole
- Give the cleaner time to work
- Run hot water to see if the clog has been cleared
- If the problem continues, use a plunger to help dislodge the clog
- Fill the sink with enough water so the bottom of the plunger is covered
- Pump the plunger until the clog is dislodged
- Run hot water to see if the clog has been cleared
- If the gurgling sound continues, use an auger or drain snake to work deeper into the drain pipe and clear any clogs
- Gently guide the cleaner down the pipe, rotating it to help clear any debris
- When you reach the clog, continue pushing and rotating the cleaner until the clog has been broken down
- Slowly pull the cleaner back up the drain
- Run hot water down the drain to make sure the blockage has been cleared and the gurgling sound has stopped
- Pipe wrench
- Small brush
- Place the bucket underneath the P-trap ready to catch any water
- Wrap the cloth around the pipe wrench and use this to undo the P-trap. You may be able to remove the P-trap by hand but the pipe wrench will make it easier if you are struggling.
- Empty the water in the P-trap into the bucket
- Clean any debris and dirt out of the P-trap with the brush
- If you notice the P-trap is damaged replace it for a new one
- Replace the clean or new P-trap securely
- Run water to check for leaks
Main Vent Blockage
- Only do this if it is safe, a professional can be called to deal with blockages in the main vent.
- Use a ladder to gain access to the roof. Take a flashlight, connected hosepipe, and auger with you so you can clean the vent.
- Visually inspect the main vent. Remove any debris you can see. It is quite common for leaves, sticks, nests etc. to get caught in the main vent.
- Look inside the vent using the flashlight to see if there are other obstructions.
- Spray the hose and use the auger to dislodge any obstructions inside the vent.
- Once clear, carefully get down from the roof. Run the kitchen sink to see if the gurgling has stopped.
Damage to the Air Admittance Valve
- Warm water
- A piece of wire
- A new air admittance valve (potentially)
- Inspect the air admittance valve between the P-trap and drain pipe for damage
- Remove the valve
- If the valve is damaged, throw it out and install a new one
- If the valve is just dirty, clean it with warm water and remove any stuck debris with the wire
- Reattach the air admittance valve
- Run the water to check if the gurgling sound is still there
Help! The Sink Is Still Gurgling!
If you have tried all of the solutions we have offered on each of your drains and none of them have been successful then it is best to contact a professional plumber. The issue could be deep in the plumbing system and could even be in the main sewage line. We have troubleshooted all of the most common causes.
How to Prevent Future Blockages
If you have cleared your sink and the gurgling has stopped, use these tips to prevent hearing those sounds bubbling up from your sink again.
- Don’t pour food, dirt, or hair down the drain
- Never put oil or grease down the plughole
- Regularly clean the drain with a drain cleaner or baking soda and vinegar solution to stop dirt from building up
- Wash up in hot water to help break down dirt and debris
FAQs: Repairing a Gurgling Kitchen Sink
Why does my sink gurgle when the washing machine drains?
The high volume of water being pushed out of the washing machine is getting slowed down by a blockage in the waste pipe. The blockage needs to be cleared to stop this from happening. The issue could also be caused by incorrect installation.
Is it bad when my sink gurgles?
Yes, a gurgling sink is a sign of an issue in the plumbing and this can lead to larger issues. Investigate the problem and clear any blockages now before the problem develops.
Can you pour Drano down the vent pipes?
No, do not pour a drain cleaner into the vent pipe. This will not solve the problem. It is far more effective to use a drain auger to remove clogs.
A gurgling sound in the kitchen sink may not seem like a big deal but it is something you should not ignore. If caught early enough, the problem can be easy to solve. The noise is usually the result of a clog in the drain or vent pipe. Once you clear the blockage, the noise and the smell will go away.