A Tale of Three Plungers

Did you know there are over three different kinds of plungers? They are all made up of a cup and handle, but their structural differences make them ideal for specific types of work. If you’ve ever struggled with a clog, you may be using the wrong type of plunger.

Number One: The Cup / Sink Plunger

cup plunger

When imagining a plunger, the image that usually comes to mind is the classic version of the “cup plunger”, a red rubber cup attached to a wooden handle. This plunger is the go-to tool when your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or tub clogs up. Despite popular belief, it is not ideal for using on toilets. If you try to, you’ll find that the flat cup is unable to create an airtight seal over the curved toilet drain, making it extremely difficult to create suction. For this plunger to work at its best, it needs to be used on a flat surface, allowing the cup to create the suction necessary to break up the clog.


Number Two: The Flange / Toilet Plunger

toilet plunger          Toilet_Plunger_Detail

Unclogging your toilet calls for a different style of plunger, the flange style. This plunger has an extra flap of rubber (the flange) around the cup. The flange allows for a complete seal to be created over the toilet’s curved opening, so the plunger can gain the necessary suction to complete its task. Though you may not want to put the same plunger in both your toilet and sink, the flange plunger can potentially be used for both. If you fold back the flange around the cup, it creates the standard cup plunger described above.


Number Three: The Accordion / Plastic Plunger

Accordion Plunger

The accordion plunger can also be used for unclogging toilets, but is less common than the flange plunger. It is made of a single piece of molded plastic with several flexible accordion-style ridges and a small cup on the bottom. Air is held within the ridged area of the plunger, and when it is pressed against the toilet drain, the ridges compress and the air shoots out from the cup to push out the clog. It must be completely submerged in water before attempting to break up any clogs, so you may need to add extra water to the bowl. Some people find this style of plunger to be more powerful than the cup or flange styles, though it can also be more challenging to learn to use. Also, since they are typically made of plastic instead of rubber, it’s possible it might scratch the surface of your toilet.

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When Your Plunger Meets Its Match

Keep in mind the arsenal of plungers available to you next time you try to deal with a clog on your own. Sometimes, even if you’re using the very best plunger for the job, you may find that the clog is more severe than you can handle. When that happens, it’s best to have a plumber visit with his more advanced variety of professional tools. Whether little Timmy flushed your checkbook or Mother Nature has disrupted your piping, the right tool will get the problem solved.