Toilet Won’t Drain When Showers Used – Makes Gurgling Sound

Question:

Lately everytime I use one of my showers my toilets make a gurgling sound and runs low on water. Then if I try and flush one of my three toilets they wont drain. Water also comes up through my drains. Ive tried running a snake through the showers, toilets, vent pipes, and clean outs. Also used a water jet. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer:

A blocked vent pipe can cause this kind of problem.  The vent pipe will terminate through the roof near the location of your fixtures (usually within 4′ of the fixtures.) Because each fixture includes a trap that blocks sewer gasses from entering the home, air must be supplied via the vent system in order for the water to flow down the drain.  A good analogy is what happens if you hold a finger over the end of a drinking straw and remove it from the liquid; until you release your finger, the water has a hard time draining out of the straw.

The vent may be blocked at the termination by debris, a damaged vent cap (if equipped) or a nest made by a bird, squirrel, etc. You can use a plumber’s snake from the roof to try and clear an obstruction in the vent.

Flushing the vent with water (from a hose) can be done, but you have to be careful. If the vent material is clay, cast iron or lead pipe in older homes, they may be cracked and water damage to the home may result.

If you have plastic vent pipes, and want to try running water down the vent to clear it, position someone inside near the fixtures with a walkie talkie or cell phone so they can communicate about any unusual sounds.

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