Plungers get very little consideration as a tool that can be taken seriously by a plumber. In fact, if I say:

You, and just about any plumber would say, Plunging a toilet

Fact is, though toilets are the first thing that come to mind when we see a plunger, not many plumbers actually use plungers on clogged toilets. We use a toilet auger. So, why does a plumber carry a plunger on the truck?

Sink, bathtub, shower and floor drains. That is why a plumber carries a plunger. Let’s go through the list, one at a time.

99.9% of all homes in The United States have toilets. So, 99.9% of all homes already have a plunger. They more than likely attempted to use it on the toilet before they called the plumber. Therefore, a plumber does not bring the plunger in from the truck when he has a ‘clogged toilet’ call. He uses a toilet auger. (I’m having a bit of fun, here. However, if you don’t have a plunger and your plumber does not have a toilet auger, here is an article that says you can clear your toilet bowl without those tools. Google always wants to see us share the love, by posting some ‘out bound’ links. I honestly do not want you to have the nerve to follow this article’s advice. )

  • Bathroom Sink Drains – A bathroom sink is constructed differently than most kitchen sink drains. There is a pop-up drain assembly with a pop-up plug. A bathroom sink also has an over flow. Here is how to use a plunger for clearing a clogged bathroom sink drain…..
    • First, if your bathroom sink has standing water in it, get the water out of the sink.
    • Next, we must remove the pop-up plug. (This is typically done by releasing the trip lever from the drain tee, under the sink. Usually the trip lever is held in by a threaded slip nut. Don’t forget to put the trip lever back and secure it once you have removed the pop-up plug. If you don’t, water will pour through the orifice where the trip lever is secured)
    • Now, open the faucet to allow some water to stand in the basin of the sink.
    • Place the plunger over the mouth of the drain.
    • Cover the overflow of the sink, as to create a strong vacuum when plunging. You will not have to plunge very rapidly. Many people believe you have to look like you are have entered a cow milking contest and plunge as fast as you can. Plunge moderately. Allow time for the blockage to move.

    The plunging will begin to loosen the waste trapped in the drain. Plunge a few times and lift the plunger. When water begins to drain out of the sink, open the faucet. Allow the water from the faucet to flush the drain.

  • Kitchen Sink Drains - Kitchen sink drains are much different than bathroom sink drains. You do not have an overflow on a kitchen sink. However, you may have a two compartment sink connected to the same drain. Or, you may have a garbage disposal. Even more complicated, you may have a dishwasher discharging to the garbage disposal. All of these items listed here have drains or connections to the kitchen sink drain line. Using a plunger on a kitchen sink drain is only effective if the plunger can create a vacuum.If your sink is a single compartment sink, with no dishwasher or garbage disposal, Clearing it with a plunger is easier than clearing the bathroom sink.If you have a two compartment sink, with nothing else attached to the drain, you need to plug one side of the sink while plunging the other.A sink having a garbage disposal attached to the drain should not be plunged. Plunging a kitchen sink drain which contains a garbage disposal can push on the garbage disposal seals and ruin the disposer’s ability to contain water.If your kitchen sink has a dishwasher, many times, the dishwasher has a check valve which will not allow water to come back into the dishwasher from the sink drain. However, if water is arriving in the dishwasher from the sink drain, you will need to disconnect the discharge hose and plug the nipple on the side of the dishwasher tail piece. This will allow the plunger to build a suction which is needed to move the blockage. After pushing on the plunger a few times with standing water in the sink, lift the plunger away from the drain to check for flow.
  • Plungers do not always remedy a clogged drain. However, there is a chance a plunger can clear the blockage. In fact, a “sink plunger” is made for the purpose of using it on a sink drain.

  • Shower Drain - Allow standing water in the shower to sit. Place the plunger over the drain and push up and down a few times. Remove the plunger to check for flow. Once you have flow, run the shower faucet, allowing water to wash out the drain line.Clogged shower drains are probably the easiest of all drain lines to clear, using a plunger.
  • Bathtub Drains - Bath tub drains are also complicated to clear using a plunger. The main reason is there exist an over flow drain on the tub. You will need to remove the over flow cover and use a second plunger on the over flow drain, while plunging the tub drain.When plunging a tub drain, simply use a second plunger to place over the overflow. You will not need to push on the plunger which is on the over flow. You will simply use the second plunger on the over flow to block the force created while plunging the tub drain. Blocking the over flow allows a vacuum to form, pulling and pushing on the blockage to loosen it.
  • Floor Drains – In order to clear a blockage from a floor drain with a plunger, simply use the plunger in the same manner you would in clearing a shower drain.


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