To plunge or not to plunge

by | Jun 7, 2015

How to Unblock a Toilet

When you’ve got a blockage or a broken toilet and the water is starting to rise, panic sets in pretty quickly. To plunge or not to plunge? It’s not quite Shakespearean but it’s a common question.

For most clogs, a toilet plunger should do the trick and if it doesn’t, that’s where I come in. As a Northern Beaches Plumbing service I have seen my fair share of clogs, blockages and overflowing toilets, unfortunately some of these problems could have been solved by an early effort with the plunger (an early plungervention). So here are some tips on using a plunger effectively.

When to use a plunger

When you notice your broken toilet or sink draining slowly a quick one-two with the toilet plunger can often sort out the issue. Plungers can dislodge minor blockages, as the suction can move the item through the pipe using sheer force. In some situations though, plungers can only make the problem worse by lodging the blockage further into the pipe.

It’s extremely important to have two toilet plungers that are disinfected regularly. One for sinks and the kitchen and one that is only used on the toilet. Cross contamination is a hazard that you don’t want you or your family exposed to. For sinks you’ll want to use a cup plunger, for a toilet you’ll need a specialised flange plunger that fits into the narrow part of the toilet bowl.

For some clogs it’s best to forgo the plunger altogether. Instead, you can make your own drain cleaner with half a cup of bicarb soda and half a cup of vinegar. Pour it down the drain, let it sit for 10-20 minutes and flush with hot water. Avoid using commercial drain cleaners, they can cause damage to pipes and they aren’t environmentally friendly (we don’t want our Northern Beaches plumbing issues affecting our waterways!).

Proper plunger use

Most people who use a plunger focus too much on the pushing technique and not enough on the pulling. The plunger works because its suction can move minor clogs or blockages back and forth up the pipe. This movement back and forth helps to dislodge the clog. If you’re only pushing without pulling, the chances of un-blocking your pipe are slim.

Before you start, put on some rubber gloves. Your first plunge should be a gentle one to get all of the air out of the plunger head. You can then be a little more vigorous.

Make sure you have a tight seal over the drain, you can add some vaseline to the rim in order to make the plunger grip more tightly. Pull the plunger away from the drain every 5-6 plunges to check if the water starts moving. If you don’t make any progress after a few goes it might be time to admit defeat and call in a professional before the problem gets worse.

When a plunger just won’t work  

If you’ve plunged and plunged to no avail it’s best to turn off the water to your toilet or avoid adding any water to the sink of the clogged drain. It’s time to bring in your Northern Beaches plumbing service, Wild Water Plumbing– some clogs are best left to the professionals.
Give us a call today and we can make a quick call out to sort out your clog, bog or blockage. I’ve been operating as a Northern Beaches plumbing service for over 11 years and I have some tools that are a bit more heavy duty than your household plunger to get your toilet or drain free flowing in a flash.