How to Use a Plunger Properly

How to use a plunger properly featured image featuring toilet and plumber holding a plunger
Every homeowner and renter should invest in a plunger. You might not think that owning one is important, until that one moment, when you try to flush the toilet and the water fills up rather than flushes down the drain. Without a plunger, you could become the victim of the overflowing toilet. And no one has time for that! You can purchase a plunger at any home improvement store or at a large grocery superstore.

In order to keep your plunger ready to go at a moment’s notice, there are a few things you should know:

1. Use the right plunger

There are two types of plungers, the cup, and the flange. The cup plunger is used for everything but toilets. The flange type has a little extra lip around the edge, which makes it better for toilets than the cup plunger. Using the wrong plunger for the appliance in question is a short road to a plumbing emergency. Always make sure to use the proper tool for the job at hand.

2. Store your plunger properly

You never want the rubber part of the plunger to tear or it will not work. Store in a dry location, but only after you clean it after each use.

Chemicals can damage the rubber on the plunger. Chemicals can also damage you – especially if you pour them down the drain and then try to plunge them out of the drain. You do not want plumbing chemicals to splatter on to you.

4. Prepare the toilet, sink, or another drain for plunging

If you are trying to plunge a device that is filled to the brim, remove some water first. You can use a cup or bowl and pour the water down a functioning, nearby drain. When there is too much water, the toilet or sink can overflow – which creates an entirely new problem. You do need to have some water, so the cup of the plunger is completely submerged to get a good seal.

5. Burp your plunger

If you have too much air in your plunger, you will not deliver enough force to remove the clog. Let some of the air out before you compress the plunger. You can do this by tipping the cup while it is in the water. The air bubble up to the top. You want as much force and you can and excessive will reduce the force you can use.

6. Give the plunger a chance to seal

The force of the plunger depends on the air in the cup and the seal the cup makes. Some people spread petroleum jelly around the edge of the cup to improve the seal. Petroleum jelly also helps the rubber of the plunger last for many years.

7. Check the other drains

If you have a double sink and one side is clogged, you must block the unclogged side. This will help build the force to plunge away from the clog. A wet cloth can be used to fill the drain that is not clogged. It is in your best interest to check all other outlets to be sure they are not open and reducing the effectiveness of your plunger.

8. Think vertically

When you plunge, you should always follow the vertical technique. The handle should be held so it is vertically perpendicular to the device you’re plunging. This will help you get the right force, as well as the up and down movement needed to remove the clog. The best plunging action is a quick and forceful type of thrust. After a few times, you will get the feel for it and develop muscle memory for the next event.

9. Keep at it

Your first attempt might not be successful, especially if the clog is tough. There is nothing wrong with repeating the motion until the item is dislodged and the water goes down the drain

If you need help with a clogged drain or toilet, call Scott English Plumbing and we will help.