Plumbing

Published on June 22nd, 2014 | by Henri

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One toilet gurgles when another is flushed

Q.    We have a 50-plus year-old Cape Cod home with a powder room on the first floor and a full bathroom on the second floor. For the last several years, when the toilet on the second floor is flushed, water gurgles up in the bowl of the toilet in the first floor powder room. What could be causing this? Do we have reason to be concerned? If so, how should we proceed?

A.    Such gurgling sounds are usually caused by a venting problem. The vent stack that goes through the roof (or should, if yours does not) may have gotten partially or totally plugged over the years. This is more of a problem in very cold regions where the moist gases freeze over the winter and can cause the vent stack to be completely closed.

If this problem is year around, it may be that the vent stack has a small diameter and that a build-up of scum and corrosion has narrowed it to the point where it is affecting its proper functioning. You may want to have a plumbing contractor get on the roof and check it out; it may need to be cleaned out. He or she should also check for other possible causes, such as absence of venting, which may be remedied with interior venting, using one of the several appliances available.

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