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Plunger 101
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Plumbing 09/21/14

Plunger 101

Did you know that there are two types of plungers? Most often, we think of plungers related to common toilet clogs. It is a tool that even plumbers in San Diego know well. Of course, your local plumber will want to caution you to use the correct plunger for the correct application!

The two basic types of plungers, “cup” style and “flange” style can be found at any home improvement store and can save a lot of money and time when dealing with small clogs. In San Diego, your plumber will advise you to never use the “cup” style plunger on your toilet, and yet that is the most common type of plunger found in the home.

Bill Howe Recommends A Cup Style Plunger For Sinks And Tubs

                The “Cup” style, or if you ask one of your professional plumbers in San Diego a Hydrostatic Force Cup plunger, works by creating a seal and suctioning against a flat surface. This is why these style plungers work best on sinks or bathtubs where the surfaces create the perfect vacuum seal. They are most effective when there is water in the pipe, and work by pushing the plunger down until the rubber “cup” is flattened and pulling up. By repeating the process rapidly, the vacuum attracts material and breaks up, or loosens, the clog.

Flange Style Plungers Recommended By San Diego Plumbers For Toilet Clogs

The “Flange” style plunger is the best tool to use when you have a clog in the toilet itself. However, it will only be effective if the clog is before the flange or main 4” line. When your local San Diego plumber responds to a toilet clog, he or she will first test all the drain in order to determine the location of the clog, and the best method of clearing it. You can do this too!

Before you use the plunger:

  • Test all the drains by running water while flushing the toilet
  • Does water back up into the tub?
  • Is there a bathroom next to, or below, the clogged toilet?
  • If you have a clean out in the front  yard, check to make sure no water is coming up

If all drains are clear, you can likely solve the problem by using the “Flange” style plunger.  The unique shape, unlike the “Cup” style, is designed to create and maintain the right amount of vacuum and pressure in the bowl of the toilet.

                Gently allow the plunger to seal inside of the toilet bowl and push up and down in a rapid, but controlled, motion. Once the clog dislodges or loosens, the water level should go down. In order to test the drain to see if the clog has been successfully cleared, slowly pour water into the bowl or lift the lid of the tank and very slowly lift the flapper at the bottom of the tank until water enters the bowl. Do not lift the flapper all the way up, and do not flush the toilet until it has been tested clear.  If multiple attempts do not clear the line, you may want to move to a toilet auger or call one of the professional plumbers in San Diego.


*NOTE: If you use ANY style plunger in the toilet, you run the risk of breaking or damaging the wax ring. This will cause leakage from the base of the toilet, and you will need to remove the toilet to replace the wax ring. Always plunge with caution! (And never use the “Cup” style plunger for toilet clogs!)

From more information or to schedule a professional San Diego plumber from Bill Howe Plumbing, call 1-800-Bill Howe (245-5469) today!


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