New Plumbing Coupons: Click Here to View Current Discounts

Master the Plunger & Unclog Like a Pro

Unfortunately, clogged toilets and drains are common issues you’ll likely encounter multiple times a year. Fortunately, clogs are easy to take care of most of the time, and you may not have to call a plumber to fix them. It takes a plunger and knows how to use it.

Causes of Clogged Drains and Toilets

First, it’s helpful to know some of the different causes of clogs. Knowing this information won’t clear a clog, but it can help prevent more clogs from occurring.

For toilets, the most common cause of a clog is trying to flush too much down at once. This can be especially true if you use soft, thick toilet paper. It’s the most comfortable option for many people, but its thickness takes up much more space, even if you’re using only a few pieces at a time. Clogging the toilet can happen a lot faster than you might think.

Another common cause of a toilet clog is flushing the wrong things down. This can be an object dropped into a toilet and then flushed, but more commonly, it’s due to trying to flush items such as paper towels, baby wipes, and sanitary napkins down a toilet. 

These items are too thick and do not break up as quickly and efficiently as toilet paper, leading to clogs. Even “flushable” wipes can cause clogs despite their labeling; if you’re using them, look for products with plant-based fibers, which break up more quickly. Never flush trash down a toilet.

Sinks in kitchens, bathtubs, and showers often get clogged due to the buildup of dirt, hair, food particles, and other organic materials. Mineral buildup can also be a culprit, as can fats, grease, and oils.

Of course, there may also be problems in the plumbing system itself. If you’re dealing with clogs and none of the above seem to be the cause, it’s time to call a professional plumber to check things out.

Types of Plungers

In many households, there’s just one type of plunger, but in reality, there are two different types of plunger. One is designed for sinks, showers, and tubs, and the other is for toilets. Now that you know this (or are about to), it’s a good idea to have at least one of each type on hand so that you’re best prepared for handling the next clog that occurs. 

The cup plunger sounds precisely like a rubber cup attached to a handle (usually wooden). It works well for drains on flat surfaces like sinks, showers, and tubs. Because it doesn’t create an airtight seal in the curve of a toilet drain, it’s not as effective against toilet clogs due to insufficient suction.

If you have a toilet clog, a flange plunger will work better than a cup plunger. It has an extra ring of rubber, called the flange, around the cup. The flange creates a more powerful suction seal when inserted into the toilet drain.

Should a cup plunger not be on hand, a flange plunger can work well on a drain, shower, or tub if you fold the flange back into the bell of the plunger. However, a cup plunger is still much better for the job.

How Do You Use a Plunger?

The basic idea behind using a plunger is similar, whether a cup plunger or a flange plunger. Still, there are some differences to be aware of.

When using a cup plunger, use a wet towel to cover the overflow drain if there is one. This keeps air from escaping, which will decrease suction power. 

Next, place the rubber bell over the sink or drain, completely submerging it in the standing water. If the water level is high, you can transfer some of the water to a bucket to minimize the water splashing outside the sink. Now push down on the handle, gently at first but soon more quickly and deliberately. After about 20 seconds, pull the plunger away. The clog should be cleared.

Don’t use drain-cleaning chemicals at the same time you’re plunging; you could splash those chemicals onto surrounding areas or yourself, and those caustic chemicals can cause damage and injuries.

With a flange plunger, let the water level in the toilet drop to halfway. If the toilet is dry or nearly so, add water, which is vital for making the process work. Close the valve behind the toilet to cut off the water supply. Insert the plunger so that the flange is inside the toilet drain, and then use quick, deliberate thrusts and pulls for 20 seconds, at which point the clog should clear, and the toilet will flush.

What If the Plunger Doesn’t Work?

If plunging doesn’t do the trick, you can take other steps. A drain snake or toilet auger can dislodge materials blocking a drain or toilet. For people without those tools, some different DIY approaches may work.

One is to warm a gallon of water to almost boiling, add some dish soap into the toilet, and then pour the water in. After about 15 minutes, this mixture may clear the clog.

For a sink, tub/shower drain or toilet, combine a cup of baking soda and 2 cups of vinegar, and then pour the mixture in and let it react with the standing water. In 20 to 30 minutes, check to see if the clog is gone.

Getting a Professional Plumber to Unclog

If plunging and other home remedies don’t work, or if the fixture keeps getting clogged, then it’s time to call a professional plumber. They will have industrial-grade tools that can clear stubborn clogs that plungers can’t, and they can also diagnose the situation to see if a more severe plumbing issue is going on.

When it comes to plumbers in Weaverville and Asheville, NC region, no one can beat Four Seasons Plumbing for honest and upfront pricing, for technicians who are courteous and skilled, and for exceptional quality and value. We can take care of your plumbing needs, including maintenance, repairs, installations, and more. We also provide emergency plumbing services because we know plumbing emergencies sometimes happen at the worst possible times.

Give us a call or schedule with us online!

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.