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Tips on How to Effectively Use a Plunger

January 29, 2015

The plunger is plumbing's best-kept secret. A plunger is great at helping dislodge basic clogs in your sinks, showers, tubs, and floor drains. Following is a brief summary on how you can effectively use a plunger on all your drains.

Effective Plunging Techniques

It may seem intuitive to use a plunger, but it is a little more complex than most people realize. The most important aspect of using a plunger is keeping a tight seal over the opening the entire time. Plungers work by trapping water, which is then forced through the pipe when you push and pull on the plunger handle. In order for this back and forth movement to dislodge clogs, the plunger must form a watertight seal around the pipe. The following tips will help your plunging efforts be more effective regardless of where you are plunging:

  • Always keep a tight seal over the opening the entire time you are plunging.
  • If you have a stiff plunger, pour hot water over it to soften the rubber before plunging.
  • Start with a gentle push to get the air out of the cup. Any air that remains in the cup will compress and reduce the effectiveness of your efforts.
  • Keep the plunger vertical when you plunge. Plunging with the handle at an angle reduces the amount of force you can leverage.
  • Don't use chemicals and a plunger at the same time. The chemicals could splash out of the water and onto your skin.

Plunging the Toilet

The most common use for a plunger is to get rid of a toilet clog. Toilets require a specific type of plunger, called a flange plunger, which features a funnel on the end of the cup. The flange should be inserted into the opening in the bottom of the toilet bowl. The flange helps ensure that you maintain a watertight seal while plunging.

Plunging a Sink and Tub

If you have a bathroom sink that is blocked, try using a plunger before you use chemical drain cleaners or attempt more invasive procedures. Be sure to use a sink plunger (without a funnel, or flange). Put a wet rag into the overflow opening to prevent air from escaping and remove the drain pop-up assembly before plunging.

Plunging a Shower or Floor Drain

When removing clogged drains in a floor drain make sure the plunger is sealed tightly against the floor. As with sinks and tubs, use a plunger without a funnel or flange.

Plunging a Kitchen Sink

Plunging a kitchen sink requires the same techniques as the bathroom sink with a slight difference; the kitchen sink doesn't have an overflow opening. However, if you have a divided sink with a drain in each section you will need to block the openings in the sections you are not plunging.

Not every household clog can be cleared with a plunger. Your next step is to try using a drain snake. If you are still unsuccessful, you may have a bigger plumbing issue and you need to call an expert. Roto-Rooter professionals are available 24 hours a day to handle any bathroom plumbing emergency.

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