How to Fix a Gurgling Kitchen Sink

Last updated on May 8, 2022

Are you hearing strange gurgling noises from your kitchen sink? It’s irritating at the very least. So here’s how to fix a gurgling kitchen sink. Read on!

It’s normal to feel a twinge of concern, especially if you have no plumbing knowledge whatsoever. The good news is that fixing a gurgling kitchen sink could have an easy solution, and there’s no need to call a professional plumber in many cases.  

Sure, sometimes the problem is more difficult to fix, and professional help is needed, but it could also be as simple as DIY declogging the drain. Even if you have very little knowledge of plumbing basics, this guide on how to fix a gurgling kitchen sink can walk you through the process step-by-step. 

Why Is My Kitchen Sink Gurgling?

gurgling kitchen sink

Before going about fixing the problem, the first step is understanding what’s causing that annoying gurgle sound in the first place. The two main reasons include either a partially clogged drain or problems with the vent pipe.  

Gurgling from a Clogged Drain

Out of all the sinks in your home, the one in the kitchen is the one that works the hardest and is used the most. Even if you have a garbage disposal installed, the chances of it becoming clogged are relatively high, and this clogging can lead to many sounds, including gurgling. 

As more small food particles and heavy grease are thrown into the kitchen sink every single day, they begin to build up and can cause blockages in the pipes. Eventually, an obstruction can form, which can either partially or fully clog the drain. 

Air bubbles become trapped around the obstruction, and the movement of these air bubbles is what is causing the gurgling noise. Drain clogging often starts as a minor problem, but it can get out of hand quickly the longer it is left unattended. 

It’s fairly easy to figure out if a clogged drain is a problem. Just turn on the tap and fill the sink with a good amount of water, then observe. If you see bubbles rising up from the drain as the water goes down, then the problem is most likely a blockage. 

Gurgling from a Blocked Vent Pipe

The second most common reason for kitchen sink gurgling is a blocked vent. Attached to the drain pipe is a vent pipe that extends all the way up to the roof. This pipe works to allow sewer gas to escape and prevent a vacuum from forming when the sink is full of water.

If there are problems with the way this vent was installed or it develops a blockage over time, air will begin to fill the vacuum and rush past the sink’s P-trap, which in turn causes the gurgling sound. Unfortunately, this problem is a lot more difficult than a simple drain blockage. 

The Easy Fix… 

sink flush

Hopefully, all you need to do to stop the gurgling is to relieve a minor blockage, which just requires the sink to be flushed. Before taking more extreme measures, just turn on the tap and let the water run for a few minutes. As long as the clog isn’t too severe, the excessive water might be able to push the blocked materials out of the drainage pipe. 

In the next best-case scenario, the issue can be fixed with the proper plumbing tools. There are tons of anti-clogging products available on the market; plumbing snakes can be useful, and there are many chemical products designed to break up clogs so that they can easily be flushed away. 

Other Potential Fixes 

sink plumbing

If a simple flush doesn’t work and using a plumbing snake was unsuccessful, there are a few more things you can try before calling in the pros. Keep in mind that these methods require a basic level of plumbing knowledge, so if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, calling a plumber is the best choice. 

Check the Drainage Pipe for Clogs

The next easiest step to take is to check if anything is obstructing the drainage pipe. This could easily be causing the gurgling noise, and the solution is to take the p-trap apart and remove any blockages. 

To do this, place a bucket under the p-trap, then using a pair of pliers, remove the nuts that attach the sink’s tailpiece to the trap. Once you remove the trap, expect some water and other gunk (this is where the bucket comes in handy). 

With the trap fully disassembled, it’s easy to clean the inside of it with a small brush – a wire coat hanger also works well for this. Once the clog has been removed, reassemble the trap and run the water to see if the gurgling issue has been solved. 

Check the Vents for Waste Buildup

Most kitchen sink assemblies have venting systems that extend to the roof. Waste from the outside can become lodged in this vent, like dirt, debris, and leaves. Who knows, maybe a bird decided that this vent was a great place to make its nest? 

If this is the case, the best way to clean out this vent is to flush a strong stream of water through the opening. However, clearing the blockage will require extremely high water pressure. 

Check for Vent Installation Issues

Aside from vent blockages, the other explanation for gurgling relating to the kitchen sink’s venting system is improper installation. If the vent wasn’t installed properly in the first place, there’s bound to be problems. 

This isn’t an easy fix, but if you do want to solve the problem on your own, make sure that the vent is situated 3.5 feet from the p-trap’s lowest part (but only if the sink has the standard 1.5-inch drainage pipe). 

Check for Problems in the Air Admittance Valve

Not all sinks have a venting system; instead, some come with an air admittance valve, which eliminates the need for a roof venting system. If the valve isn’t working properly from a clog or other malfunction, this can also lead to gurgling. 

It’s not suggested that you fix this issue on your own since issues with the air admittance valve could be pointing to more serious plumbing problems. 


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