Every home needs a good plunger. It’s the most basic tool for dealing with clogged drains. Many people don’t realize that there are different kinds of plungers and that they may actually be using the wrong type of plunger for the job.
The two most important types of plungers to recognize are the standard sink plunger and a toilet plunger. Tying to unclog a drain or toilet with the wrong type of plunger will be less effective. The key feature of a toilet plunger is the narrow flange at the end. Below we’ll take a look at some other, less common plungers.
The plunger uses simple suction paired with pressure to work. The plunger’s rubber cup creates a seal around the opening of the drain. Moving the handle up and down can force the water pressure up and down, dislodging the clog and returning the drain pipes to their former function.
Different Types of Plungers
There are different types of plungers. Each type has a specific function, for a specific type of drain. Besides their form and function, there are also varying levels of quality. So it is important for you to choose one based on how well it is made, the materials used, and the brand selling it. Below, we talk about the different types of plungers and feature examples from reputable and user-recommended brands. Even if these are inexpensive, they often last long – so you won’t have to buy new ones all the time.
Standard Sink Plunger
When you think of a plunger, this type is probably the first image that enters your mind. Most homes have this type, and it performs basic functions. It has a rubber cup at the end, attached to a straight handle. The handle is often made of wood, although there are also metal and plastic counterparts. These may also vary in size, but the form and function are the same.
This type is called sink plunger since it is best used on flat surfaces, such as sinks. Here, the rubber cup can lay flat over the drain, creating the required vacuum to effectively plunge and dislodge the clog in the sink drain.
Of course, you can use this in other applications, such as toilets, although it can be quite challenging to position it just right to achieve the right amount of suction. For toilet clogs, we recommend the appropriate type of plunger, which we’ll talk about next.
Standard Toilet Plunger
Like the sink plunger, the toilet plunger also has a rubber cup. However, it comes with a rubber flange that extends from the inside rim cup and creates a narrow rubber cylinder or flange. The flange is precisely designed to fit into the drain opening of the toilet. This creates a seal between the plunger and porcelain trapway to create the needed suction to dislodge the toilet clog.
The shape of this plunger is exactly as the name describes, similar to the natural shape of a beehive. The plunger starts out as a standard plunger but after widening in the middle it tappers back down to a narrow flange. The main benefit of this style of plunger is that the shape is designed to fit all toilet types including traditional and newer high efficiency toilets (HET).
The hollow “hive” also helps create pressure as you pump the plunger back and forth to push the blockage through. This style of plunger was made popular by the Korky brand and its top-selling Telescoping Beehive MAX model.
Accordion or Bellows Plunger
This type of plunger is quite interesting because of its unusual design. It is good for clearing clogs in toilets because of the small rubber cup. However, you might not be able to use it properly on other types of drains. The force that it can create is impressive, but it is not that easy to operate. The accordion plunger is made of plastic material, often hard, which is challenging when trying to create a vacuum seal over a drain. It is very strong and powerful but isn’t as user-friendly and versatile as the other types.
Automatic Toilet Plunger
This style of plunger is relatively new on the market. The idea is that it is “automatic” because it does not require any manual pumping back and forth. The plunger either has a chamber that you can fill with pressurized air by plumping it back and form similar to the action on a bike pump or large water gun (i.e. super soaker squirt gun). Other models use replaceable Co2 cartridges. The downside to this is that they are single-use and have a recurring expense as you’d need to buy replacement cartridges and use one for each instance of a clog.
Finally, we have the Taze plunger. This type is best for dislodging clogs in large pipes. It’s not very common with homes and normally used in industrial and commercial settings. It has a disc that is sized to fit certain pipe sizes, with a long steel rod that will push the disc into the pipe. Again, this is not designed for residential use and is meant for use by professionals.
Tips For Using Plungers
There aren’t that many types of plungers, so it’s fairly easy to make a choice when purchasing one. Here are some more pointers for using them to reduce the amount of time and energy that you’ll pour into your unclogging efforts.
- Do an up-and-down motion. Make sure the handle is vertical and keep it straight. Don’t tilt it at an angle, as this will prevent you from getting the right amount of force you need to keep the seal and suction.
- Release air out of the plunger’s cup. Too much air inside the cup will compress each time you push the plunger down. This absorbs the shock, which reduces the amount of force received by the clog itself. Allow the plunger to fill with water to add more power with each plunge.
- Ensure submersion of the plunger. Make sure that there is enough water in whatever drain you are unclogging so that the plunger is submerged. Otherwise, you can’t get enough power. If the clog is in the toilet drain, do not flush it in an attempt to add water. This will only create a big mess! Instead, manually add water from a bucket to submerge the plunger.
- Avoid using plungers right after cleaning with toxic chemicals or household products. When you plunge, you could get a significant backsplash. If you do this together with cleaning products with toxic chemicals, you can risk getting the substance on your skin or clothes.
We hope this article has been helpful. Now, you know the different kinds of plungers and where they should be used. If you plan on using one at home, the best ones for you are the toilet plunger and the sink plunger, as these are easy to use and versatile enough for different drains in the home.