How To Use a Plunger


While it may seem like a simple and straightforward process, a few steps must be followed to plunge a clogged drain successfully. Most people think it is as simple as putting the tool into the basin and start wailing away. Unfortunately, too many people do not know how to plunge a toilet only and adequately end up splashing dirty water all over the walls and floor. However, using the proper plunger-head design and plunging technique will usually send even the most stubborn clog down the drain.

Plumbing clogs typically occur when matter becomes lodged in the trap or junction in a drainpipe. While it is usually just a case of too much toilet paper, young children often flush things like toys and clothing down a toilet out of curiosity. Other times people flush inappropriate objects, such as feminine products and paper towels, that were not meant to be so disposed of.


Most of the time, when a toilet becomes clogged, the bowl fills up fast and drains slowly, taking a few seconds to a few minutes to return to its average level, depending on the severity of the clog. On the other hand, if the toilet drain is completely clogged, the bowl will fill up with water and won’t drain at all. This often causes the water to run over the top of the bowl and flood the bathroom floor. You may have a more serious issue and need toilet repair from Gold Star Plumbing Gilbert.

Sinks, Tubs, and Showers

Clogged bathroom, kitchen, laundry room sinks, tubs, and shower stalls will also show similar signs as a clogged toilet. While a plunger will almost always work to clear a clog in a toilet, sink, tub, and shower, clogs can be more problematic. When a toilet gets clogged, it is most often just human waste and paper, but when a sink, tub, or shower drain gets clogged, it is almost always the result of matted hair. Unfortunately, sometimes the latter of the two types of clogs don’t always respond to plunging. If these issues persist, Gold Star’s licensed plumbers can handle any sink repair job!

The Right Tool for the Right Job

While the techniques for plunging toilets, sinks, tubs, and showers are more or less the same, the plunger-head design needed for each job is different. To clear a drain clog, the plunger must form a watertight seal against the drain to push the material out of the trap and pipes. Without a proper seal, all that will happen is water will be splashed back up and out of the drain or toilet bowl. Here using the right plunger-head design is critical to creating the all-important seal.

There are two basic plunger-head designs, the bell-head design, and the cup-head design.

• The cup design is the type most people are familiar with, and as the name implies, it is just a simple rubber cup attached to a wooden handle. The cup-head design is most effective on drains under primarily flat surfaces, such as sinks, tubs, and showers. However, the cup design cannot create a significant enough watertight seal in a toilet bowl because of the steep incline adjacent to the drain.

• The flange-plunger head is best suited for use in toilet basins as it has an additional ring around the bottom of the cup. This ring is specifically designed to create a much better seal in the bowl than the cup-design can.

How Plunging Works

Many people mistakenly think that suction frees the clog when plunging a drain. However, it is a combination of pressure and suction. Once it is securely placed over the drain opening, pushing down the handle compresses the head and forces air and water down through the pipes. When the handle is lifted, it creates suction. This, when it works, creates positive and negative air and water pressure between the clog and the cup and dislodging the clog.

How To Use a Plunger on a Toilet

1) Fill or drain the bowl until it is approximately half full.

2) Place a small amount of petroleum jelly on the rim of the flange. This will help create a tighter seal so air cannot escape as easily under the flange’s edge.

3) Place the flange securely into the bottom of the toilet bowl.

4) Push down gently on the handle to be sure there is good contact between the flange and the bowl’s surface surrounding the drain.

5) Push all the way down on the handle with a gentle but quick thrust until the bell bottoms out. Lift the handle until the bell returns to its standard shape and repeat the process six to eight times. The combination of pressure going down and suction coming up should loosen the clog.

6) Remove the plunger, and the clog should be cleared. A particularly stubborn clog may require multiple plunging attempts before it clears.

How to use a Plunger on Sinks, Tubs, and Showers

1)  Plugging the overflow drain, if present, with a wet washcloth wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent the created pressure and suction from escaping.

2) Place a small amount of petroleum jelly on the rim of the cup.

3) Set the cup’s edge over the drain opening so the cup is completely submerged. Add water if necessary just until the cup is covered. If the basin is too full, use a cup to remove some of the water, so it doesn’t splash.

4) Push all the way down on the handle with a gentle but quick thrust until the cup completely flattens out. Gently lift the handle until the cup returns to its normal position, taking care not to let the cup come up off the basin surface. Repeat the plunging motion six to eight times.

5)  Raise the handle and lift the cup off the drain opening. The clog should be cleared. If not, repeat the process a second time. Again, particularly stubborn clogs may require multiple plunging attempts.

As a word of caution, do not try to plunge a drain right after using caustic chemical drain cleaners as the chemicals can splash out of the drain and result in injury. If the clog persists after trying several times to plunge it out, it is best to call in the big guns and contact a reputable plumber.

Gold Star Plumbing & Drain offers professional water heater servicedrain clearingtoilet repair and other expert plumbing services in GilbertPhoenixMesaChandler and the neighboring communities. Our trained, licensed and unifored Gilbert plumbers are standing by to assist with all of your residential and commercial plumbing needs, day or night. Each of our technicians enjoy serving our community to our gold standard. Our commitment to providing a Gold Star experience allows us to build long lasting relationships with our customers based on trust, quality service and fair pricing. To us, that’s what it means to be a superior Gilbert plumber.



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