Six Things to Know About Using a Plunger to Unclog Drains


Clogged drains in the bathroom are a headache, but the plunger is a handy tool that can make quick work of the problem. There are a few tricks to plunging a drain effectively, so before you dive in, read on. Here are six things to know about using a plunger to unclog drains.

You Need the Right Kind of Plunger

Plungers come in two basic types. There’s the cup plunger, which is the most familiar to people and best used for sinks, tubs, and showers. The flange plunger, with its extended rubber lip, is a better choice for toilets.

You Need to Keep Your Plunger in Good Shape

Plungers work because they create a vacuum seal. If your plunger has cracks or tears on the rubber, you won’t be able to create that seal. So keep your plunger dry and clean when it’s stashed away to minimize the risk of cracks or rips.

You Shouldn’t Use a Plumber with Commercial Drain Cleaners

We’ve written about the problems of commercial drain cleaners before. If you do end up using one (which we don’t recommend!), don’t dump it down the drain and then follow up with the plunger. You’ll end up splashing those chemicals all over the place.

You Need to Remove Excess Water Before You Start Plunging

If your toilet bowel, sink, or tub is full of water, remove it before you start plunging to avoid splashing it everywhere. Don’t remove all of the water – you’ll need it about halfway full, or enough to fully submerge the cup of the plunger. Without water, the cup can’t create a proper seal and the necessary pressure. There also needs to be water in the plunger cup to create the most force, so don’t make the mistake of angling the plunger head straight down to keep it filled with air.

You Need a Nice, Tight Seal Before Starting to Plunge

Here’s a handy tip – a little smear of petroleum jelly around the rim of the plunger cup will help create a strong seal for better suction. As a bonus, it’ll help reduce cracking in our dry northern Nevada climate.

You Need the Right Technique

Don’t tilt the the plunger, Instead, keep the handle straight up and down and plunge with a vertical movement. It’ll help keep the seal tight and generate the necessary force to clear the clog. Use quick, strong thrusts for about 15 seconds. Then remove the plunger and check the drain. If the water starts draining, you’re done! If not, give it another go. But if you can’t clear the drain yourself, it’s a good idea to call in a professional. River City Plumbing offers experienced plumbing services in Reno and Sparks. We’ll get your pipes sorted out – just call.

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