3 Things to Do If Your Toilet Bubbles When the Bathtub is Draining

Remember the children’s song, Dem Bones? It’s the one that goes, “The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone. The foot bone is connected to the ankle bone…” In some ways, your home’s plumbing system is similar in that many parts are connected to others.

Take your bathroom, for instance. You may run into an issue where you’re taking a bath or shower, and you hear a bubbling noise coming from the toilet. What does this mean and what you can you do to fix the issue? We’ll explain in this article.

Why a toilet can bubble when the tub is draining

While the toilet and bathtub may appear to be completely separate fixtures, they are connected in some ways by the plumbing that’s concealed behind the walls. They likely all run together to a shared drain that has a vent pipe that runs to the exterior of the house. This is called wet venting, and the purpose is to send sewer gases outside and to prevent pressure from building up in the plumbing.

Back to the mysterious toilet bubbling. It may be due to a blockage somewhere in the vent pipe. So when the water is draining from the tub, the air that is supposed to be going through the vent ends up coming up through the toilet drain, which causes the bubbling.

How to prevent air bubbles in toilet

If you want to stop your toilet from bubbling, you need to remove the blockage so all the liquid and air from all the drains can flow freely and go where they’re intended to go. To do that, there are three areas you can try clearing out.

  1. Tub drain – One of the most common areas for a clog is the trap of the shower drain. This is where soap, hair, dirt, and other debris can collect and create a blockage. You’ll usually notice the tub starts to drain slower and slower until it stops completely. You can try using a Zip-It tool or drain snake to pull out or break up the clog.
  2. Drain line – A blockage can also occur past the trap and anywhere in the drain pipe. To reach it, you may need a longer drain snake. We recommend not using commercial drain cleaning products since they have harsh chemicals that can damage the plumbing and enter the public water supply.
  3. Vent pipe and stack – As we mentioned before, the drain line has a vent pipe that goes to the outside of the house, usually up to the roof. If you can get to the main vent stack, check to make sure it’s not blocked by leaves, nests, or other debris.

Remember, just like a skeleton, the plumbing in your home is all connected, so an issue from one fixture or room can affect another.

If your toilet is bubbling and you don’t have any luck clearing the pipes yourself, you can always call Reichelt Plumbing for professional drain cleaning. It’s also possible that the bubbling is caused by another plumbing issue that may be more serious, so it’s always a good idea to have a licensed plumber take a look to prevent a bigger problem down the road. To schedule a service appointment, call us at (219) 322-4906.


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