Why does my kitchen sink gurgle?

Updated February 21, 2017

A gurgling kitchen sink not only annoys, but it also indicates a problem with how the water flows down the sink's drain. As a homeowner you have the ability to eliminate simple problems that lead to the gurgling, if you have the right tools and are not afraid of heights.

Food Debris

If your kitchen sink has a disposal in it, you or someone else may have partially clogged the drainpipe that connects to the disposal. While a disposal will handle some food debris, it may become overwhelmed and not chop up the debris enough. The debris then flows into the drainpipe, where it causes a partial obstruction and traps air behind the clog. As you wash water down the drain, some of the air flows out from behind the clog and travels up to the drain opening, causing the gurgling problem.


All drainpipes in your house must be vented, otherwise the drains do not allow water to flow down smoothly. A lack of venting can also allow gases in the drainpipes to push their way up through the sink's drain, introducing the potentially toxic gases into your home. Vent pipes attach to the drainpipes, running all the way through the roof of your house, where the sewer gases escape. The vent pipes also replace the air that washes down the drainpipes with the waste water, keeping the plumbing system balanced.


As a homeowner, you may clear debris from the vent pipes. First you must get on top of the roof so you can inspect the pipes. You need a flashlight to look down the pipes. If you see debris in the vent pipes, pull it out using a long, slender tool such as a flexible retriever. With debris you can see but not reach, try washing the debris down the vent pipe using your hose and a high-pressure attachment. You may knock the debris loose so it no longer clogs the vent pipes. Clearing the drainpipes of clogs using a plunger and a drain auger can also help with the gurgling. You need to take the pipes under the sink apart to feed the auger into the pipe in the wall, giving you the chance to inspect the pipes for clogs.


If you continue to have problems with your kitchen sink gurgling, contact a plumber. Plumbers have the necessary training, tools and experience to determine the cause of the gurgling and fix it. Plumbers come with devices to locate clogs in vent pipes, as well as long augers that snake all the way through a vent pipe to knock loose any obstructions.

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