The toilet clogs or the sink won’t drain. What should you do? Some homeowners reach for the plunger, while others reach for the phone (and dial their plumber’s number). Before you make a decision one way or the other, take a look at what need to know about plungers and your home’s plumbing.

What Are the Types of Plungers?

Plungers come in different shapes and sizes. All plungers create suction to remove or pull clogs from drains. But the specific plunger you choose depends on the type of drain you need to unclog. The most common varieties of plungers include:

  • Toilet plunger. The name says it all. This type of plunger has a cup and flap design that’s well suited to removing toilet clogs.
  • Accordion plunger. This plunger looks like an accordion (as the name implies). It has a narrow end that fits nicely into a toilet’s drain, making it ideal for removing commode clogs.
  • Standard plunger. The standard version is most likely what you think of when you picture a plunger. It has a rubber cup at the end and seals well around flat surfaces While these plungers aren’t the best choice for a curved sink or toilet bowl, they work well on flat-bottomed kitchen sinks.

Along with matching the plunger to the type of drain, you also need to know how (or if you should) use it. Failure to do so could cost you time and money.

When Should You Use a Plunger?

A small or light clog typically doesn’t require a call to the professional. The suction a plunger creates may free a small wad of toilet paper that’s clogging the toilet. But a larger clog or one that’s deep into your home’s plumbing system may not respond to the pressure of a plunger.

Never use excessive force to plunge a clog. If the drain won’t open with normal plunging pressure, you need a professional’s help. Forceful plunging can damage the drain line and cause leaks.

Along with clogs that require extra force, avoid plunging obvious major obstructions. If your toddler flushes a toy truck down the toilet, you accidentally drop chicken bones into the sink’s drain, or something awkwardly-shaped falls into another drain, resist the urge to plunge it.

What If You Can’t Use a Plunger?

If you can’t (or shouldn’t) plunge the clog, a pipe snake can clear the issue. These metal rope-like coils extended through the pipes, catching and removing clogs by force. Even though a pipe snake can efficiently remove clogs, it’s not always easy to use — especially the power models and mini-rooters.

In a novice’s hands, a pipe snake can cause more damage than relief. Improper use can cause a safety issue. Pipe snakes can also scratch delicate porcelain fixtures, ruining toilet bowls or sinks. Unless you have experience and expertise, call a plumber to snake your drain.

While the pipe snake can clear some clogs, don’t think that a snake is always the answer. A clog that won’t break apart or move may require a more sophisticated repair. Removing parts of the toilet or digging deep into your plumbing system isn’t a job for the average DIY-er. These types of repairs are best made by a plumber.

If you’re not sure whether a clog is easy to plunge or not, treat the problem with caution. Before wasting time and costing yourself more money, consult a professional. A plumber can evaluate the situation, recommend a treatment plan, and make the repairs as needed.

Do you have a clog that just won’t budge? Before you take matters into your own hands, contact Rapid First Plumbing for more information.