How to Use a Plunger: Sinks vs Toilets

Most people have a plunger in their home and feel like using it is pretty straightforward. The fact is that a lot of people misuse their plunger out of habit and in the process, end up making a mess or making things worse.

Have the Right Plunger on Hand

You’ll find two types of plungers on the shelf of your home-improvement store. One is a cup plunger, the other is a flange. Each type of plunger has its own application, and using the wrong one won’t make things better.

Cup Plungers

This is the simple wooden stick with the rubber cup at the end. Cup plungers are designed to work best on flat surfaces such as bathtubs, sink, or shower drains.

Flange Plungers

Flange plungers are designed for curved surfaces such as toilets. They feature extra material around the cup that helps you get a good, tight seal inside the toilet bowl. In an emergency, you may be able to fold the flange part of the plunger back, turning it into a cup plunger, but if you’ve used your flange plunger previously inside your toilet, you probably don’t want to now use it in your sink or shower.

Know How to Use Your Plunger

There’s a subtle art to using a plunger correctly. While it’s easy enough, many people use plungers incorrectly without even realizing it.

For sinks, showers, or tubs, use your cup plunger.

  1. Block the overflow valve of your sink or bathtub with a towel, washcloth, or tape.
  2. Place the plunger over the drain hole and gently press it all the way down (don’t plunge downward).
  3. Use a gentle pulling motion repeatedly, without raising the plunger up enough to break the seal.
  4. Use the plunger to create a seal and then pull the suction backwards in the pipes, rather than thrusting downward.

For toilet clogs, use your flange plunger in much the same way.

  1. Make sure there’s enough water in the toilet bowl to completely cover the cup of your plunger
  2. Position it so it fits snugly in the toilet drain
  3. Plunge by firmly pulling upward on the plunger, without breaking the seal until the clog clears.

It’s important to remember not to plunge downward forcefully. The clog is actually loosened by the backward pull, so concentrate your energy there. You also don’t want to plunge water that contains caustic drain-cleaner chemicals because a splashback could be painful or dangerous.

If you use these tips the next time you wake up to a nasty clog, clearing it will be much easier. If your clog simply won’t clear, however, it may be a more complex issue than a plunger can solve. Give J.W. Freeman Plumbing in Gainesville a call, and we’ll have your sink or shower drain working again in no time.

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