Ask Any Hour: Which Plunger Should I Use?

HOMEOWNER QUESTION:

We had a plumbing--uh--situation in my son’s bathroom. In trying to address the clog, I searched high and low for the only plunger in the house. When interrogating all the house’s occupants proved futile, I dashed to the home store down the street to get a new one. However, when I got there, I was confronted with a wide array of plungers in all sizes, shapes, and styles. I snatched the one that looked the most like a traditional plunger (orange cup on the bottom, wooden stick handle) and when I got home, realized it was not equal to the task in our toilet. Where did I go wrong? Which one should I have purchased? Did I just get a bad one? Are there different types for different jobs? Argh! Help!

Ask Any Hour - what kind of plunger should I use

ANY HOUR ANSWER:

Don’t feel like you’re all alone: many people become overwhelmed when plunger shopping, especially because, like you, they’re also facing a plumbing emergency. But to answer one of your questions, yes! There are different plungers for different jobs and using the wrong one could be frustrating and ineffective. So, let’s walk through the different types and their uses so you can make the right choice for your next--uh--situation.

 


 
1 - Sink/Cup Plunger

sink/cup 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.

Check out our video on: How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink with a Plunger

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

 


 
2 - Toilet/Flange Plunger

toilet/flange 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!

 


 
3 - Accordion Plunger
accordian 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 Plumbing Tips:

Always 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.
 

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Author: Amber Smith-Johnson
Copyright © 2019 by Any Hour Services

 

May 1st 2019

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