Hearing Gurgling In Other Pipes When Toilets Flushed

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by gronesy, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. gronesy

    gronesy New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Antioch,TN
    This week I noticed for the first time that I can hear a gurgling sound in my upstairs shower drain whenever any of the toilets are flushed, dishwasher or washer drains. No water is backing up and the sound goes away after a few seconds.

    Does this mean the main line is starting to back up? We've lived in this house over 8 years and it's never done this before.

    I should also mention that we recently had our roof replaced and one of the downspouts appears to go into our patio slab and I assume into the sewer. The roofers spent time cleaning the gutters but I didn't check them right after they finished.

    I'd really like to hear from somebody who knows this stuff if there is anything I can do or should have looked at. We've had the crawlspace inspected recently and there is no sign of leakage.
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    sound

    If you use the shower frequently, then the only way it could happen is if you have a poor, and improperly installed, drain system. If you do NOT use it, then the trap is dried out and what you hear is water draining in the piping and you have to run the shower for a few seconds, and redo it every week or so.
  3. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Is the gurgling air coming into or out of the fixtures, it could be several different problems, or a combination of 2 problems ...but that would be rare...try doing what hj said if the fixtures are rarely used...

    do you have a septic tank...?

    there is 1 other possibility but it would be a long shot...if the roofers used a roof vent as a trash can you could have a venting problem...

    How old is the house...?
  4. gronesy

    gronesy New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Antioch,TN
    Gurgling Sounds in Upstairs Shower Drain

    Hi Cass and hj,

    Thanks for your quick reply.

    The shower in question has been out of commission for over a month because it needs recaulking. There is a wad of hair in the immediate drain that also needs to be removed.

    The fixtures do not have the sound. Only the upstairs shower drain. My main concern is that sewage is backing up into the outer lines.

    We do not have a septic system. It's city sewer.

    The house is 1987.

    Should I just clean out the drain and dump a bucket of water down it to see if that does it?

    My other thought was about the vent and garbage but they did seem very conscientious about cleaning up.

    What's your best guess?

    Thanks again,

    Jeff
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    You just diagnosed your own problem. IF the shower was not used for even two weeks the trap would dry out and cause the sound. I usually find it in tubs or showers when I flush the toilet and hear the water flushing in their drains. A couple of cups of water and the problem is solved for two weeks at least.
  6. gronesy

    gronesy New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Antioch,TN
    hj,

    Thanks so much.

    I'll pour some water down the drain and see if that does it.

    I'm just glad it's not more serious than that.

    As you can tell I'm a complete novice when it comes to understanding the plumbing of a house.


    I'll check back to let you know how it goes.

    Jeff
  7. gronesy

    gronesy New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Antioch,TN
    hj,

    Problem solved. Thanks a bunch.

    It really helps to work with people who know their stuff.

    Best,

    Jeff
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    assistance

    It also helps that you are in TN and I am in AZ, otherwise I might have given you my phone number and then came there and ran the faucet myself. I am not completely altruistic.
  9. gronesy

    gronesy New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Antioch,TN
    LOL

    Thanks again.

    Jeff
  10. rt

    rt DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Canada
    awesome info

    reading these threads here and learning a lot - thanks to all those lending their expertise.

    I have a comment / question on the fix provided here - I watch those TV shows (house hunters, etc.) where I constantly see people buying these (IMHO) ridiculously big houses with so many bathrooms that some likely rarely see much use. So if a trap can dry out in a couple weeks, what happens when someone does not know this - are they unwittingly letting sewer gasses vent back into their space? Curious....
  11. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes.........
  12. rt

    rt DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Canada
    geez - who knew? (I mean, unless you're a plumber, or lucky enough to trip over this kind of info otherwise...).

    I'd almost want to snicker at those guys who dump their 2 -1/2 bath 2300 sq ft home 'cause it's "not big enough for their 2 kids anymore"- but no joke at the expense of anyone's health.

    What do you do / recommend? Stoppers in all the unused fixture drains? Would this even matter with things like overflows?

    Sorry to ramble on about this but honestly it's something I never would have even thought of in a million years and it's kinda scary (especially with a kid who has severe allergies / sensitivities...).
  13. rt

    rt DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Canada
    sorry - just re-read the part about running shower every week or so -which I guess answers my last question.

    still if people don't know....

    thanks again
  14. seaofnames

    seaofnames DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    162
    Location:
    Mission, BC
    Canola oil or some other cooking oil wouldnt dry out, and would be easily flushed when the shower is used.
  15. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,000
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I know a few people with five bathrooms, for just two people.

    Whenever I go into someones home to do plumbing, I run water into the soaking tub.
    I assume those never get used, so the traps are likely to have dried out.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    Oil can go rancid after awhile, so while it may stop the trap from drying out, IMHO, it's not the best choice. RV antifreeze doesn't evaporate readily and would work, plus, won't harm the environment when you do eventually use it and flush it out the trap. Oil is hard to process at the sewage treatment plant. You could also put a stopper over the drain. Depending on the environment, it can take awhile to dry out. You'd get much different timelines between say coastal FL verses desert AZ.
  17. rt

    rt DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Canada
    Hi Terry - your point about the friends with 5 bathrooms - seems silly to me but I guess if I could afford it I might be talking a different talk - anyway apologies if my comments came off like a cheap shot at any of your friends.

    jadnashua - you got me thinking about my camp - I currently add drain antifreeze to the kitchen sink drain there - but only during winter months when we're not going to be around for a while. I don't do this in summer - but maybe I should make this a year round habit - there are 2 or 3 week intervals in the summer when we don't get out there - just to be sure.
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