Every kind of plumbing problem is inconvenient. However, no issue is more frustrating — and more capable of getting in the way of your daily routine — than a clogged drain or toilet. This particular dilemma usually makes it impossible to use the affected plumbing fixture.
One way to fix this problem once and for all is with a plunger. Fortunately, any homeowner can learn how to use a plunger correctly.
You don’t need to be a plumber to clear out a clogged drain; you just need some determination and a plunger. Although there are other ways to unclog a toilet, the easiest and cleanest way is to use a plunger. However, if you don’t have a plunger, jump to step three of “How to Use A Plunger To Unclog A Toilet” for some plunger-free tips.
Types Of Plungers
Before we get into the steps, we should go over the different types of plungers you should use depending on the job.
Cup plungers are the most commonly depicted types of plungers and are most effective on flat surfaces like sinks and bathtubs rather than on clogs in a curved surface like a toilet. They typically have a rubber cup paired with a wooden handle:
Flange plungers, also called funnel-cup plungers, are best used for toilets and other curved drains. The extra rubber sticking out the end is designed to fit into the toilet drain to make a more perfect seal and increase the suction power:
How to Use A Plunger To Unclog A Toilet
When a blockage forms in your toilet, you probably want to fix the problem as quickly as possible. However, rushing into the job can cause more issues than you started with — and lead to a larger mess.
It’s important to learn how to use a plunger correctly so that you can successfully remedy the problem at hand. Let’s go over some tips to ensure everything goes smoothly.
- Don’t Flush More Than Once
If you have already flushed the toilet, do NOT try flushing again! This could cause the water to overflow onto the floor and turn your little problem into a big one. If the water keeps rising and looks like it won’t stop, lift up the lid to the toilet tank and close the toilet flapper that releases water from the tank into the bowl as fast as you can. Keep your hand on the flapper until the water begins to rise in the tank and not the bowl. Once that disaster has been averted, move on to step 2.
- Find a Good Plunger
The best plungers have a rubber extension, sometimes called a flange, at the bottom. The funnel-like plunger on the bottom left creates a stronger seal and allows you to free tough stoppages a lot better than the plunger on the bottom right. Regardless of which plunger you can get your hands on, it is a good idea to run hot water over the rubber part to make the seal more pliant and less stiff.
- Pour Dish Soap And Hot Water Into Toilet Bowl
Next, you will want to fill up a bucket with hot water and dish soap and pour it into the bowl. If the water in the bowl is already to the brim, ignore this step. The hot soapy water will help break up the clog. Let it sit for a few minutes. Sometimes, a toilet can be unclogged without a plunger by using this method. This is good to try if you can’t find a plunger and are too embarrassed to ask for one. Just make sure the water is not boiling, as the porcelain bowl might crack.
- Use a Plunger Properly
There is a right way and a wrong way to plunge a toilet. Make sure you are not aggressively pushing down and pulling up. This will splatter the “stuff” in the toilet all over the place, creating a mess of everything. Instead, gently but firmly, place the rubber end of the plunger over the clogged hole in the toilet bowl. Hold the plunger handle so that it is sticking in a straight upward position.
Make sure the rubber part is fully submerged in water. If it is not, add more hot soapy water — as much as needed — to increase the water level. The plunger uses the force of the water, not the air, to clear the obstruction.
Once the plunger has created a good seal, push down and pull up a few times without breaking the seal. Then, flush. If the water does not go down, open the tank again and make sure the flapper is closed, so the water does not overflow. Go back to step 1 and repeat the plunge and flush process. If you have successfully unclogged the toilet, congratulations! You now know how to use a toilet plunger.
If your toilet has still not unclogged, we highly suggest that you contact a professional plumber to get the job done right for you. An expert will also be able to inspect your toilet and make sure that there are no other problems with it. This can help prevent future damages from happening and can also save you on costly repairs!
Tips for Plunging a Toilet
Are you ready to tackle that pesky clog? Just remember to use these helpful tips for how to use a toilet plunger the right way:
- When a plunger just isn’t enough, and you are plunging and plunging to no avail, your clog may be worse than you think. When objects like children’s toys get stuck in the piping, you may need to buy a more effective tool (like a toilet auger). If water backs up in the bathtub or sinks when you flush the toilet, you should call a plumber since it is probably the mainline that is clogged.
- Prevent clogs in the first place by teaching your children not to put anything into the toilet that does not belong, like rubber duckies and sailboats. That’s what the tub’s for.
- Use toilet paper conservatively. Your butt doesn’t need a whole roll. Although it’s helpful to learn how to use a toilet plunger, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of prevention. Toilet clogs can be avoided with the proper precautions set in place!
- Flush as you go. You may feel as though you are wasting water, but a courtesy flush after your first “deposit” is a good idea, especially if you are a guest in somebody’s home. It reduces odors and lessens the likelihood of a clog.
How to Use a Plunger to Unclog a Sink Drain
Sink blockages can form for many reasons — and they seem to always strike at the most inconvenient times. For example, bathroom sinks are often the victim of hair and soap scum clogs, while kitchen sinks encounter many grease and food debris-related blockages.
Fortunately, we’re here to walk you through the process of removing these troublesome blockages. Although we’re going to discuss how to use a plunger correctly for sinks, it’s worth mentioning that sinks and tubs typically follow the same rules when it comes to removing clogs, so these tips can have more than one use.
- Remove the Sink Stopper
First and foremost, you’ll want to take out the sink stopper in the affected drain. This will allow you to fully access the clog. You can typically remove this stopper by turning it counterclockwise or pulling it up.
- Find the Right Plunger
Similarly to learning how to use a toilet plunger, the plunger you use for the job matters. When it comes to sinks, you’ll want to opt for a cup plunger.
- Remember to Add Some Water
Is there any water in the sink? If not, add a little water so that the plunger cup can form a tight seal around the drain. You’ll want to ensure that the plunger head is submerged in one to two inches of water. Adding too much water will lead to a messy situation — so be mindful of how much you’re dealing with.
- Be Gentle With the Clog
Once you have a tight seal around the drain, you can start the plunging process. You should push and pull with quick motions — but don’t be too forceful! Using excessive force can cause unwanted damage (and a serious mess).
If you feel like you’ve loosened the clog, pull the plunger back from the sink. The water should drain freely from the drain if you are successful.
Were your efforts unsuccessful? It might be a good idea to try a different drain cleaning method. You can purchase a drain snake at your local home improvement store or try using a homemade drain cleaning solution. However, you’ll want to avoid using chemical drain cleaners. These products are known for causing more harm than good.
For Professional Help, Call Universal Home Experts Today
Now that you know how to use a plunger correctly, you can tackle this problem head-on. However, it’s understandable if you’re feeling hesitant.
Dealing with a clogged drain, especially a clogged toilet, is gross. It’s not something you want to take care of, whether you’re a guest in someone else’s home or if it’s your own problem to deal with. There are few things more frustrating or embarrassing than flushing a toilet and seeing the water rise (with everything you just deposited into it) instead of going down the shoot like it is supposed to.
While you don’t need to be a professional to clear out many types of clogs, it’s always a good idea to have a plumber on hand to call in when the problem persists or is too big to tackle on your own. Our Houston drain cleaning experts are here to keep your toilet, sink, and shower drains running smoothly. We’re proud to utilize top-tier drain opening techniques.
If your plumbing lines are still clogged after all of this, give Universal Home Experts a call — our lines are always open! We are happy to help with all of your needs, from drain cleaning to sewer line plumbing in Houston, TX, and beyond.