Blocked drains are a common problem that can occur in any household. Whether it’s hair clogging the shower drain or food scraps blocking the kitchen sink, a blocked drain can be frustrating and unpleasant. However, before you call in a professional plumber and spend a lot of money, why not try unblocking the drain yourself? With just a plunger and a little know-how, you can clear the blockage and have your drains flowing smoothly again. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to use a plunger effectively and unblock your drains in no time.
When to use a plunger
A plunger is a useful tool that can help you unblock a drain by creating a suction effect that dislodges the blockage. However, it’s important to know when a plunger is the right tool for the job. If the blockage is caused by a solid object like a toy or a toothbrush, a plunger may not be effective. In this case, you may need to use a plumbing snake or call a professional plumber. Additionally, if you have a septic system, you should avoid using a plunger as it can damage the system.
A plunger is most effective for clearing blockages in sinks, toilets, and shower drains. If you notice that your sink is draining slowly or your toilet is not flushing properly, it’s a good indication that a blockage is present. In these cases, using a plunger is a simple and effective solution.
Types of plungers
There are two main types of plungers – the cup plunger and the flange plunger. The cup plunger is the most common type, and it’s the one you’re probably most familiar with. It has a rubber cup that creates a seal around the drain, allowing you to create suction and dislodge the blockage. The flange plunger, on the other hand, is specifically designed for use in toilets. It has a rubber flange that fits snugly into the toilet bowl, creating a seal that allows you to generate the necessary suction to clear the blockage.
When choosing a plunger, it’s important to consider the size and shape of the plunger in relation to the drain you’ll be using it on. A plunger that is too small or too large may not create a good seal, making it difficult to generate the necessary suction. Additionally, make sure to choose a plunger with a sturdy handle that is comfortable to hold.
How to prepare for plunging
Before you start plunging, it’s important to prepare the area and the plunger. Start by removing any standing water from the sink or toilet bowl. This will help to create a better seal around the drain. Next, inspect the plunger to make sure it’s clean and free of any debris or dirt. You can clean the plunger with soap and water or disinfectant wipes.
It’s also a good idea to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and prevent the spread of bacteria. Keep a bucket or a towel nearby to catch any water that may splash out of the sink or toilet bowl during the plunging process.
How to use a plunger – step-by-step guide
- Start by placing the plunger over the drain, making sure to create a tight seal. If you’re using a cup plunger, make sure the entire rim of the cup is in contact with the surface around the drain. If you’re using a flange plunger, make sure the flange is inserted into the toilet bowl and creating a seal.
- Hold the plunger handle with both hands and push down gently to create a suction. You should feel some resistance as the suction is created.
- Begin plunging by pulling the plunger handle up and down rapidly. Make sure to maintain the seal around the drain as you plunge. You should feel the water moving back and forth in the drain.
- Continue plunging for 15-20 seconds, then pause to see if the water drains away. If the water drains away, the blockage has been cleared. If not, continue plunging for another 15-20 seconds.
- Once the blockage has been cleared, remove the plunger and run hot water down the drain for a few minutes to flush away any remaining debris.
Tips for effective plunging
Plunging can be an effective way to clear a blocked drain, but it’s important to use the right technique. Here are some tips to help you plunge effectively:
- Make sure to create a tight seal around the drain. This will allow you to generate the necessary suction to clear the blockage.
- Use a rapid up and down motion while plunging. This will help to create a strong suction that can dislodge the blockage.
- Be patient. It may take several attempts to clear the blockage, so don’t give up too quickly.
- If you’re plunging a toilet, make sure to use a flange plunger. This will create a better seal and prevent splashing.
Common mistakes to avoid while plunging
While plunging can be an effective way to clear a blocked drain, there are some common mistakes that can make the problem worse. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
- Using too much force. Plunging too hard can damage the pipes and make the blockage worse.
- Not creating a tight seal. If the plunger is not creating a tight seal around the drain, it will be difficult to generate the necessary suction.
- Using the wrong type of plunger. Using a cup plunger on a toilet or a flange plunger on a sink will not be effective.
- Not being patient. It may take several attempts to clear the blockage, so don’t give up too quickly.
Alternative methods for unclogging drains
If plunging is not effective or you don’t have a plunger, there are other methods you can try to unclog a drain. Here are some alternatives:
- Baking soda and vinegar. Mix 1/3 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of vinegar and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for an hour, then flush with hot water.
- Plumbing snake. A plumbing snake is a long, flexible tool that can be inserted into the drain to dislodge the blockage.
- Chemical drain cleaners. Chemical drain cleaners can be effective, but they can also be harsh and damaging to pipes. Use them sparingly and follow the instructions carefully.
When to call a professional plumber
If you’ve tried plunging and other methods and the blockage still hasn’t cleared, it may be time to call in a professional plumber. A plumber will have the tools and expertise to clear even the most stubborn blockages. Additionally, if you have a septic system, it’s important to avoid using a plunger as it can damage the system.
A blocked drain can be a frustrating and unpleasant problem, but with a plunger and a little know-how, you can clear the blockage and have your drains flowing smoothly again. Remember to choose the right type of plunger, create a tight seal, and use a rapid up and down motion while plunging. With these tips and techniques, you’ll be able to tackle any blocked drain like a pro.