If there are air bubbles coming up from your toilet, then it probably means that one of your drains is blocked.
The first sign of trouble was when air bubbles started coming up from my downstairs toilet. For a week or two, I had been hearing a strange “bubbling” / “gurgling” sound after showering and it took me a while to pinpoint where it was coming from.
After a while, I finally discovered that it was coming from my downstairs toilet. When I flushed the toilet in question, the water took a while to go back down to its normal levels.
Immediately, I knew that I had a blockage.
What causes the air bubbles?
The air bubbles are caused when the water is unable to drain away fast enough. When a blockage occurs, the pipes begin to fill up with water. As a result, trapped air can be forced back up.
In my case, the trapped air found the closest drain – my downstairs bathroom.
These air bubbles are more likely to occur when a large volume of water is being flushed out. i.e. A shower, a bath or a washing machine. They might not occur if you are just using the sink or flushing the toilet.
An illustration showing what might be happening:
I stress the word “might” because everybody’s drain setup is different and the blockage could be somewhere further down the pipes.
Where is the blockage?
In my scenario, the drain at the side of my neighbors’ house was blocked. It became apparent when water and toilet paper started seeping through the manhole covers in our gardens.
Unfortunately, in some cases, it might not be your fault. If a neighbors’ drain is blocked, then the entire drainage system can back up. It all depends on how the drainage system is built.
After you’ve had a shower or used the washing machine, check any manholes or drainage outlets on the outside of your house. If you see overflowing water or abnormal wet patches, then the issue could be with the drainage system. If not, then the issue could be inside your home.
In my case, the drain that takes in water from my kitchen sink was also backing up.
I poured a plentiful amount of sulfuric acid into an outside drain in an effort to fix the issue. However, this proved to be useless. I also purchased a “plumbers snake”, which also did nothing.
When I first started on my goal of unblocking the drains, a relative told me that I’d probably end up ringing a plumber in the end.
He was right.
I spent over €100 on sulfuric acid, a plumbers snake and other drain unblocker chemicals before admitting defeat.
In the end, I was forced to call out a plumber who specialized in unblocking drains. Within minutes, they had located the problem.
The plumbers found a large blockage of wet wipes and cotton bud sticks at the side of my neighbor’s house. This mass of non-biodegradable material had accumulated and blocked the drain pipes leading out to the main sewerage system. As a result, water and other waste was beginning to pile up.
When the water couldn’t escape quick enough, it caused air bubbles and water overflows in nearby drain outlets.
If the issue had not been solved sooner, the blockage would have eventually gotten worse and affected the neighbors on the other side of my house.
Here is an illustration that better explains what was happening:
As soon as the blockage on the left was cleared, the water started flowing again.
No wonder my attempts to unblock it myself failed. The plumbers snake would have never reached it and the sulfuric acid was probably diluted by the time it reached the blockage.
Hopefully, this post gave you an idea of what you could be dealing with and you’ll be able to quickly solve your drainage problem!