Become the family hero with a trusty plunger! Discover the secrets to unclogging a toilet and save the day.
A plunger is a simple yet highly effective tool for tackling one of the most common household problems: a clogged toilet, sink, or tub. With its rubber cup and wooden or plastic handle, this humble device has saved countless bathrooms from unpleasant backups. Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner or a novice in plumbing, understanding how to use a plunger properly can empower you to tackle this common issue confidently. In this guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of using a plunger to unclog a toilet, providing you with the knowledge and skills to tackle this challenge head-on. So, let’s dive in and discover the art of plunging!
Choose the Right Plunger
Start by selecting the appropriate plunger for the job. Cup plungers, with their flat rubber bottoms, are ideal for sinks and flat surfaces. For toilets, opt for a flange plunger, which has an extended rubber flange specifically designed to fit into the curved drain opening of a toilet bowl, creating a better seal.
Create a Good Seal
Before diving into plunging, ensure a proper seal between the plunger and the drain opening. For sinks and bathtubs, cover the drain completely with the rubber cup of the plunger, making sure it forms a tight seal against the surface. In the case of a toilet, insert the flange into the drain opening, ensuring a snug fit.
Add Water (For Toilet Plunging)
For toilets, it’s beneficial to have some water in the bowl. If needed, add a few inches of water to provide additional force when plunging. The water acts as a lubricant and helps in creating the necessary suction to dislodge the clog.
Apply Plunging Technique
Once you have a good seal and the necessary water (for toilets), it’s time to apply the plunging technique. Place both hands on the plunger handle and stand over the drain, maintaining a firm grip. Push the plunger down gently, using your body weight, until the rubber cup is fully compressed.
Create Suction with Upward Pull
After pushing down, quickly pull the plunger up with force, aiming to create suction and dislodge the clog. The upward pull should be vigorous and forceful, but avoid breaking the seal between the plunger and the drain. Repeat this plunging motion several times, alternating between gentle pushes and strong pulls, maintaining the seal throughout.
Test the Drain
After several rounds of plunging, check if the water starts to drain properly. If it does, continue plunging a few more times to ensure the clog is completely cleared. If the water is still slow to drain or remains backed up, try repeating the plunging process or move on to alternative methods.
Being equipped with the knowledge of using a plunger correctly empowers you to tackle clogs efficiently. Remember to choose the right plunger for the specific drain, create a good seal, and apply the proper plunging technique. By following these steps, you can handle common clogs in toilets, sinks, and bathtubs with ease. However, if plunging doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s recommended to explore additional methods or seek professional assistance. With your newly acquired plunger skills, you can confidently maintain a clear and smoothly functioning plumbing system in your home.
Types of Plunger
There are several types of plungers available, each designed for specific purposes. Here are the most common types: (Suggestion: have one plunger dedicated to the toilet and a second (different color) one for the sink)
- Cup Plunger: Also known as a sink plunger or flat plunger, this is the most familiar type of plunger. It features a rubber cup with a flat bottom and a straight handle. Cup plungers are primarily used for unclogging sinks, bathtubs, and flat surfaces. They work well on flat drain openings.
- Flange Plunger: This type of plunger, also called a toilet plunger, has a cup with an added rubber flange or extension at the bottom. The flange is designed to fit into the curved drain opening of a toilet bowl, creating a better seal and increased suction. Flange plungers are specifically designed for unclogging toilets but can also be used on other drains.
- Accordion Plunger: An accordion plunger features a collapsible rubber cup attached to a handle. It can be adjusted in length by extending or compressing the accordion-like section. This type of plunger is versatile and effective for various types of clogs in sinks, bathtubs, and toilets.
- Taze Plunger: The taze plunger, also known as a bellows plunger, is a more modern design. It consists of a cylindrical rubber cup attached to a hollow handle that acts as a reservoir. The handle is squeezed to force air or water through the cup, creating a strong burst of pressure. Taze plungers are suitable for toilets, sinks, and drains.
When selecting a plunger, consider the type of drain you need to unclog. Cup plungers are ideal for sinks and flat surfaces, while flange plungers are specifically designed for toilets. Accordion and taze plungers offer versatility and can be used for different types of drains. Having the right plunger on hand can make your unclogging efforts more effective and efficient.
What to do when a plunger doesn’t work?
If a plunger doesn’t work to unclog a drain, there are a few additional steps you can take to address the issue:
- Repeat the plunging: Try using the plunger again, but this time ensure you are using the correct technique. Ensure a good seal between the plunger and the drain opening, and then plunge vigorously several times to create strong suction. Sometimes, persistence and repetition can help dislodge the clog.
- Use a toilet auger or drain snake: If the plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a toilet auger (also known as a toilet snake) or a drain snake. Insert the auger’s cable or the snake’s flexible wire into the drain and rotate or push it through the pipe. This can help break up or retrieve the clog that the plunger couldn’t remove.
- Try a natural or chemical drain cleaner: If the clog persists, you can attempt using a natural drain cleaner, such as a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, followed by hot water. Allow the solution to sit in the drain for some time before rinsing with hot water. If you prefer a chemical drain cleaner, choose one specifically designed for the type of clog you’re dealing with (e.g., toilet clog remover). Follow the instructions on the product carefully, as these chemicals can be harsh and require caution.
- Call a professional plumber: If all your attempts to unclog the drain have been unsuccessful, it may be time to call a professional plumber. Plumbers have specialized tools and expertise to handle more severe or stubborn clogs. They can assess the situation, identify the underlying cause, and provide the most appropriate solution to clear the drain.
Remember to exercise caution when using tools or chemicals to unclog drains, and if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s best to seek professional help to avoid causing further damage or complications.
Tips to Keep Your Toilet Unclogged
To keep your toilet unclogged and prevent potential plumbing headaches, here are some tips to follow:
- Flush Appropriate Materials: Only flush toilet paper and human waste down the toilet. Avoid flushing items like wipes, feminine hygiene products, cotton balls, dental floss, or paper towels. These items can easily cause clogs and should be disposed of in the trash.
- Use Moderate Amounts of Toilet Paper: Use an appropriate amount of toilet paper to avoid overwhelming the system. Excessive toilet paper can accumulate and create blockages over time.
- Educate Household Members and Guests: Inform everyone in your household, as well as guests, about proper toilet usage. Clearly communicate what should and should not be flushed down the toilet to prevent accidental clogs.
- Provide a Trash Can: Place a trash can in the bathroom to encourage the proper disposal of non-flushable items. This way, people have an alternative option to dispose of items that could potentially clog the toilet.
- Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular toilet maintenance, such as cleaning and inspecting the flush mechanism and refill valve. This helps ensure optimal toilet performance and reduces the chances of clogs caused by mechanical issues.
- Use a Plunger Correctly: If you notice a slow drain or signs of a clog, use a plunger to try and dislodge it. Make sure to use the correct type of plunger (flange plunger for toilets) and follow proper plunging techniques to avoid worsening the clog.
- Professional Inspection: Consider scheduling periodic inspections by a professional plumber to identify and address any potential plumbing issues. They can assess the condition of your toilet and provide maintenance recommendations.
By following these tips, you can minimize the risk of toilet clogs and maintain a properly functioning plumbing system. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to keeping your toilet unclogged, saving you time, money, and unnecessary stress.
Suspect that your main sewer line is clogged?
Call All Star Plumbing for any sort of clogged drain line or drain clearing services. You may rely on us to ensure that your drain is clear the first time. Our plumbers go above and beyond to unblock drain blockages and keep them open so they don’t close up again.