Is your bathroom sink making a funny, gurgling noise whenever you let out the water? This is annoying and sometimes concerning, and it’s a worrying sign that there could be air in the pipes. Whatever is going on, there is an issue and you need to fix it.
Sink gurgling issues can often be solved by clearing a blockage further down in the pipes, and there are multiple ways to do this. You may need baking soda and vinegar, a drain snake, some strong drain cleaner, or another tool for getting the blockage out.
How to fix a gurgling bathroom sink
If your bathroom sink is constantly gurgling and you can’t make it stop, you are likely dealing with a blockage in the pipe. Plumbers can be expensive, so you might want to have a look at fixing it yourself if you can.
There are many ways that you can fix a gurgling bathroom sink, but the best method will depend on how serious the blockage is and how good your access is. If the sink is only partially blocked, it’s pretty likely that you will be able to clear the blockage yourself, using tools and chemicals. If the blockage is bad, you may need help.
Before you start trying to clear a blockage, it’s worth seeing if you can determine the root cause. It may help to write down when you notice the noise, and pay attention to whether anything else is going on at the same time. Some people find their sinks only gurgle when the dishwasher is running, or if someone is using the shower.
If that’s the case, you may not need to worry about it, as long as the sink continues functioning as you would expect it to.
When trying these home fixes, don’t go beyond your confidence level. If you are an experienced plumber or you’ve taken sinks apart before, you might feel comfortable turning off the water and taking some of the pipework apart. However, if you aren’t experienced, you may wish to avoid doing this because you could cause a flood.
Never take your sink apart without turning the water off, and make sure you have a plumber you can call if things go wrong. With all that in mind, let’s look at some of the best methods for clearing a gurgling bathroom sink.
Trick 1: baking soda and vinegar
You may have already heard of this method, but if you’ve never tried it, you definitely should. We use this in our own sinks on a regular basis to prevent any major blockages from forming, and it’s a great way to get rid of small blocks. Doing it regularly helps to keep your sink drains clear.
It is probably the easiest method for clearing a blocked sink, and it doesn’t require you to take anything apart, purchase any chemicals, or otherwise tackle anything complicated.
All you need is a pair of gloves, some safety goggles, half a cup of baking soda, some boiling water, a plate, and a cup of vinegar. You should start by removing all visible debris from the drain. Use tweezers to get rid of hairs and other buildup, and then shine a flashlight into the hole and see if you can see any blockage. You may not be able to, but it’s worth looking.
Next, turn your water off. Put on the gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes. Take your boiling water (about 3 cups should work) and allow it to cool just slightly, and then pour it directly down the drain. Do not use boiling water, as it may damage your sink or the pipes.
Take your baking soda and pour this down the drain. Pour the vinegar in after it, and you will see it fizzing fiercely. Next, place the plate over the top of the drain to cover it. The tighter the fit, the better.
Leave it to sit for about half an hour, and then take the plate off and pour some more hot water down the drain.
Hopefully, the fizzing reaction between the vinegar and the baking soda will help to clear the blockage. The hot water will shift grease that may be holding the blockage in place, and makes it more likely that the blockage will disintegrate.
If this doesn’t work, repeat the process a few times. It sometimes takes a few tries, but I’ve found this is the easiest method for getting rid of blocks.
Trick 2: try chemicals
If the vinegar and baking soda trick is failing, you should try something stronger. A lot of people prefer to avoid chemical cleaners because these are bad for the environment, but if you’re really stuck and you don’t want to call a plumber, this might be the next best option for you.
You can generally find drain cleaners at your local hardware or home improvements store, and these will often work to clear blockages from your sink. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as these may vary from product to product.
Again, you may need to repeat the process a few times, but drain cleaners tend to be effective. We generally find that baking soda and vinegar is sufficient, but this is another option if that isn’t working for you.
If this also doesn’t work, the blockage is likely in the U-bend – so let’s cover that next.
Trick 3: clean the U-bend
If you are a slightly more hands-on person and you’re comfortable with removing and cleaning the U-bend, this is the next thing you should try. We have done this with one of our sinks before, and while it’s not as easy as pouring chemicals down the drain, it isn’t too difficult. It took us under an hour.
Again, turn the water off before you start.
Next, get a large bowl to empty the water into, and place this beneath the pipework you will be working on. This should catch any water that spills out when you take the U-bend out.
Use a monkey wrench to unscrew the nuts on either side of the U-bend’s pipe, turning them counter-clockwise.
Lift the pipe off, empty out the water, and inspect it for any clogs. You may want to use a flashlight, but you should be able to see most issues fairly clearly.
Next, take a drain snake and use this to clear any debris from the pipe. If you don’t have a drain snake, you should be able to remove the bends from a wire coat hanger and use this instead. You just need a tool that can hook onto and grab buildups in the pipe so that you can pull them out.
Clear the debris as thoroughly as you can, and then reassemble the pipework. Screw the nuts back into place and check they are firmly tightened to ensure there is no water leakage when you start using the sink again.
Turn the water back on and test whether you have solved the problem by running water down the sink. If it is still gurgling loudly, you should probably call a plumber at this stage, as taking the sink apart further is likely to result in problems unless you know what you are doing.