Plungers and Clogged Drains : How to Save Headaches

It seems pretty simple, right? There is a clog, you grab up your plunger and start going at it in an attempt to fix the issue. Would you believe me if I told you there is much more to it than that? Not only are there multiple plungers for different tasks, but you can also do damage to your pipes and drains if done improperly.

Types Of Plungers

Cup Plunger

Cup Plunger

The cup plunger is probably the most common plunger to have in a household. It is the one that you see in just about every house you visit. Oddly enough, this plunger is usually located somewhere near the toilet, however, it is actually not designed for plunging your toilet. The flat rim and surface of the cup plunger does not fit properly in the curve of a toilet bowl. That is why there is a plunger specifically designed for this purpose.
Flange Plunger

Flange Plunger

The flange plunger is, despite common knowledge, the preferred plunger for use on a household toilet. The tapered cup at the bottom of the plunger allows the area to fit perfectly down on the drain of a toilet. This allows for maximum suction ability in such a curved area like your toilet bowl. The cup on the bottom of this extremely versatile plunger can also be pushed back up into the plunger making it basically a cup plunger.
Accordion Plunger

Accordion Plunger

The accordion plunger is one of the plungers least likely to find its way in to your home. The hard plastic of this plunger makes it very challenging to use when trying to create suction on a toilet bowl, or any drain. For the sake of “easy and efficient” we will skip over the accordion plunger and in fact promote the use of the flange plunger.

Unclogging Your Toilet Drain

As we mentioned before the most common plunger found in today’s households is the cup plunger. This is, in fact, NOT the plunger that will provide you the most efficiency when trying to plunge a clog out of your toilet. It is recommended to use a flange plunger that will allow the cup of the plunger to fit down with the curve of your toilet bowl. The plunger has the ability to generate both forward and backward pressure if used properly.

Step 1

Be sure to hold the plunger straight up and down, and that it is submerged in water. This will help provide a tighter seal of suction in the drain. If there is not enough water, add some.

Step 2

In order to remove air from the plunger itself, gently push down until the plunger is fully compressed, then begin slowly creating suction back and forth.

Step 3

After 1 or 2 back-and-forths on the plunger, break the seal and check if the water drains down. If not repeat the steps until the clog is removed from the drain.

Using Chemicals

Using chemicals when trying to unclog your drains is the LAST thing you want to do. Most store-bought chemicals are very harsh on the piping in your home and the last thing we want to do is damage that plumbing. That is like the difference between getting an oil change vs having the engine worked on. By simply keeping up with cleaning your drains and caring for the plumbing in your home you will avoid tons of future maintenance.

There are, of course, alternatives to using harsh chemicals on your home’s drains. Some people believe that using a regimen baking soda and vinegar flushed with very hot water is a good way to clean out your drain. Others believe that the power of dish detergent and hot water is much better to use when trying to accomplish this task. Whatever path you choose it is good to know there are options other than store-bought chemicals.

Plunging Sink and Tub Drains

At times it may seem like we need to plunge our sinks or tubs due to excessively backed up water and yuckiness. In today’s drains in bathrooms and kitchens they use what is called a p-trap. This is just a few (usually) PVC pipes put together to make a shape that looks like the letter P. The U shape in the piping is used to stop nasty smelling gasses from coming back up the drain and in to your home. If you were to use a plunger on a system such as this you stand a VERY good chance of damaging it, and most likely it will not fix your issue. If there is a clog in the trap, you can simple unscrew the 2 sides that hold the U portion of the trap in place, remove it, clean it, and put it back in place. Be sure that all the piece are secured before running the water again. If this does not stop the issue it could mean there is an object lodged in the piping from the sink to the U portion of the trap, something that harsh chemicals or a plunger would be overkill for. Sometimes using either hot water and dish detergent can work just fine. Make sure the p-trap is in place before running any water. If this does not work some try using a wire hanger to loosen whatever is stuck. In my house it has been anything from crayons to make-up brushes, and even large amounts of toilet paper. Simply pushing it down, or loosening it so it falls down is the best way to go.

The plumbing in your house is very sturdy and very time tested, however if not treated properly we can undo all of this and seemingly destroy it. So take our advice and only plunge your toilet with a flange plunger and use something like hot water and dish detergent to clear clogs in your sink or tub drains. Never plunge your sink or tub!

If you rent from us at Buckeye Northwest Realty you can contact us anytime to find out more way to help clear a clog in on of your home’s drains. We are here to help so don’t hesitate!

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