Guide to Household Plungers

Have you been using the wrong plunger to unclog drains and not even realized it? I'm sure you've seen different types of plungers through out the years, but did you ever know what the differences were? With clogged drains being the one of the leading household plumbing problems, it’s necessary for everyone to know how to unclog a toilet (or sink). We're here to help! It's important to know those differences so you are able to free up those clogs efficiently and effectively. Check out three different types of household plungers and when to use them.

3 Types of Plungers 1. Common Sink Plunger / Cup Plunger

This is usually what comes to mind when people think of plungers. Sink plungers are made up of a straight (usually wooden) handle and rubber (usually red or black) cup. These plungers only work properly on flat surfaces. The cup needs to lay flat over the drain and create the vacuum necessary to dislodge the clog. The curve of a toilet bowl doesn’t allow the proper seal to occur, therefore making this plunger ineffective on toilets. This plunger is able to create both a positive and negative pressure. Positive pressure is created by forcing the cup down and negative pressure is created by the vacuum effect when pulled away from the fixture. What to Use This Plunger for: Bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks, tubs, or anything with a flat surface.

2. Toilet Plunger / Flange Plunger Although it’s called a toilet plunger, this plunger provides the flexibility to fit in just about any drain. This plunger has a cup like that of a sink plunger, but also has a soft rubber flap that folds out from inside the cup. The fold out flap fits well over the curved toilet drain, which provides the necessary suction needed. The flange (soft rubber flap) can be tucked into the cup and the plunger can be used as a cup plunger. Although this plunger is very versatile, we do not recommend using the same plunger on both toilets and sinks. This is unhygienic and could lead to cross contamination. What to Use This Plunger for: Toilets, sinks (by tucking flange).

3. Accordion Plunger The accordion plunger is made up of hard plastic. While it can produce a lot of force, it is not very easy to use. The plastic is very hard, so creating a vacuum seal over the drain can be challenging. Keep in mind that since this plunger is made of plastic it can possibly scratch the surfaces of your toilet, unlike other rubber plungers that will not. What to Use This Plunger for: Toilets.

Plunging Tips for Effective Unclogging

  • Use the Correct Plunger: Use the guide above to select the right plunger for the best results.

  • Plunge Straight: Plunging at an angle won’t provide the proper force and can cause the seal to come loose. Plunge straight up and down at a vertical angle to get the most out of your pumps.

  • Create Suction: Get air out of the plunger cup by slowly pressing down to create suction. This reduces the air contained in the cup and creates a better seal.

  • Submerge Plunger: Make sure the plunger is submerged with water. If there is not enough water to cover the plunger cup, add water to the area.

  • Maintain Plungers: Any tears of the cup or bell of the plunger will result in a poor vacuum seal and loss of pressure. Plungers should also be kept clean and dry when not in use to prevent cracking, ripping, or growth of mold and mildew.

  • Safety Tip: Never use a plunger after using toxic cleaning chemicals. Plunging can create backslash and lead to toxic chemicals splashing throughout your bathroom and kitchen and possibly even onto your skin. Always use caution when cleaning with chemicals.


If your efforts are still unsuccessful, call the experts at Pipe Masters Inc. Our technicians are ready to provide drain cleaning and rooter services. Pipe Masters plumbing experts have over 45 years of experience within the trade and are licensed master plumbers. We will advise you on the best plumbing solution for your home or commercial property. Call us today for expert services in the Long Beach area and throughout Los Angeles and Orange County and let us help you with your plumbing needs! (562) 533-2145, ask for Cory!

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