Double, double toilet trouble
September 23, 2006 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Why does my toilet sometimes bubble?

Starting yesterday, my toilet occasionally makes a bubbling noise. I have not witnessed actual bubbling, but I can definitely hear it, and some water does splash out of the bowl. The bubbling occurs sporadically. It happens even when nobody has used the toilet recently. I have not noticed a pattern to its occurrence, so I would say that it is random. There is no clog that I am aware of. The toilet flushes fine. Sewage does not bubble up into the toilet.

I live in an apartment building. I have lived here for about 2 weeks, and this problem started yesterday. A building maintenance person came by to look at it and couldn't figure out what's wrong, but he said that as long as the toilet flushes properly, there is no problem. He said something about old pipes, but that doesn't explain why this started yesterday.
posted by TheIrreverend to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Sounds like a vent line may be plugged or obstructed. This could allow small volumes of sewer gas to be trapped in your solids line, which will rise to bubble up through the trap of your toilet, and perhaps sinks. Beyond smelling bad, and being slightly dangerous (due to sewer gas occasionally being somewhat flammable), you want to get this fixed because eventually, you can have a nasty backup, if you are on a common soils line in the apartment building's plumbing, and you are not the top floor unit.
posted by paulsc at 9:28 AM on September 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

This can happen when the utility company uses air pressure to backflush the pipes. However, I would think other people in the building would be affected if this were the case.
posted by dragonsi55 at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2006

This happens in our building especially when someone is doing laundry or such upstairs, the pipes build up with foam and you can get either air bubbles or actual foam coming out the toilet. I'm not exactly sure HOW this happens, but that's what I know. We have a laundry room and it is against the rules to do laundry in your own apartment for that reason.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 10:28 AM on September 23, 2006

I lived in a place that had this problem. Get it sorted out if you can, because these little bubbles are small potatoes. I ignored it at my apartment for awhile, and on at least one occasion came home to a soaking wet bathroom. Walls, ceiling, everything. It was like a geyser had erupted in there, and the water wasn't, eh, clean. If you will.

I never did get it fixed because my landlord was a complete waste of air, and this was my first apartment; I was a naive college student.

Excellent title, by the way.
posted by autojack at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2006

A couple weeks ago we had a bubbling toilet (combined with a "blurping" noise from the bathtub drain after a flush). It developed, in two weeks, into sewage bubbling up into the bathtub one morning. Horror.

I'm in Germany so the plumbing theory might be fundamentally different, but our disgusting plumbing issues here were solved completely by a plumber coming over and flushing the outgoing line, which was blocked. Cost about a hundred bucks and we never had an general overflow-type-situtation, for which I am eternally grateful. An ounce of prevention, et cetera.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:59 PM on September 23, 2006

Have you tried burping it?
posted by davy at 10:32 PM on September 23, 2006

You're dealing with someone who they send out to plunge a drain, not the people involved with more serious building maintenance issue. Call again and tell them the problem is persisting and that it is not sufficient that the toilet simply flush properly, you also require that your home be free of noxious and harmful sewer gas.

Although these incidents may not be serious, the fact that gas CAN get into your home is a problem and means actual noxious gasses could come in at a later date. If they don't respond to your call, write them a letter and send it registered mail so they know you're serious and you can document this later.
posted by phearlez at 10:51 AM on September 25, 2006

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