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Choosing and Using the Right Plunger for the Job

which plunger should I use

If you’ve tried to unclog a sink or toilet with a plunger and have been unsuccessful, the reason could be that you’re simply using the wrong plunger! Now you’re probably thinking, wait. There are more than one type of plunger? The answer is yes; there are three types, actually—and each one of them serve very different purposes. So, because clogged drains are one of the leading problems in household plumbing, and because the holiday season is the time most people experience plumbing problems, it’s important for homeowners to know about the various plungers available and how to use them effectively.

But also bear in mind that prevention is always better than cure! To save yourself from having to unclog a drain, either with a plunger or by calling a professional plumber, remember that there are certain things that should never go down the drain. The most disastrous are fats, oil, and grease. These should never go down your kitchen sink or any other drain in the house, including the toilet. Additionally, you should never send anything down the toilet that isn’t toilet paper. This includes hair, tissues, paper towels, wipes, and—well—pretty much anything else. Click here to learn more about how to care for your kitchen sink and disposal as well. The bottom line is that you should avoid sending anything but water down your home drains. Here’s a good rule of thumb for everyone in the home: when in doubt, throw it out. 

But if you do happen to need a plunger:

The 3 Types of Plungers

Sink / Cup Plunger

common plunger
The sink plunger is made primarily for just that: sinks. With its straight handle and flat-bottomed rubber cup, this plunger will only work effectively on a flat surface. The idea is that the cup covers the top of the drain to create a seal. Drains with a curved surface, like that of a toilet, won’t allow the plunger to make a proper seal or create the vacuum necessary to unclog a drain.

Additionally, remember that if you’re working on a double kitchen sink, be sure to cover or otherwise plug up the other drain. The two sinks have a drain that is connected, so you won’t get the pressure necessary to unclog your drain unless you cover one side. Also, if you’re trying to unclog a drain in a bathroom sink, be sure to cover or plug up the drain hole there as well.

The Rundown: This plunger works best on most sinks, tubs, or drains on a flat surface.

Toilet / Flange Plunger

toilet plunger
It’s called a toilet plunger, but don’t let that get you down. This plunger’s versatile construction makes it a good fit for nearly any drain! Its tubular shape at the bottom makes it a good fit for curved toilet drains and the cup shape at the top allows for suction over flat-surfaced drains like tubs and sinks. This is possible because the inner tube can be tucked up into the cup so you can just use the suction cup part. However, just because your plunger CAN work on any drain, that doesn’t mean it SHOULD. Never use the same plunger on a tub or sink that you’ve used on a toilet as this could spread germs and disease. So, it’s best to designate a dedicated toilet plunger and a dedicated sink/tub plunger. If the two are the same style, make sure they are clearly marked so they don’t get mixed up.

The Rundown: This is the best plunger for toilets and is also versatile enough to fit most sink and tub drains. But buy more than one if you’re going to use it for both your sinks and toilets!

Accordion Plunger

accordion plunger
Made up of rigid plastic, the accordion plunger can pack a punch to stubborn toilet clogs. However, while it can produce a lot of force, it is not very easy to use. Because the plastic is stiff, creating a vacuum seal over the drain can be challenging. Also, because this plunger is made of plastic and not traditional rubber like other plungers, it’s possible this plunger might scratch the surfaces of your toilets.

The rundown: This plunger is pretty much only good for toilets.

More Plunging Tips:
  • Try plunging first, before using toxic chemicals. This is a good rule of thumb for two reasons. One, plunging does not flush corrosive liquids down your drains or pour toxins into the water supply. Two, if you pour chemicals down your drain and then try to plunge, the plunger may splash those chemicals onto your clothes and skin, into your eyes, or around the room. Be safe and try the plunger first! 
  • Always use the right plunger for the job! The wrong plunger will be frustrating and ineffective. 
  • Make sure your plunger is in good repair. If your plunger is torn or cracked, it will not work effectively. Make sure to keep the plunger clean and dry so it will last longer.
  • Be sure to plunge straight up and down at a vertical angle so you don’t break the seal and so you can get the most force out of your plunges. 
  • Create suction by letting air out of the plunger and submerging the plunger in water. Add water if necessary to cover the plunger cup and create the best seal.

Posted: November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:00am by tammy