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Woman plunging a sink

The Difference Between Plunging a Sink and a Toilet

To plunge or not to plunge? That is the question. Clearing a blockage in a sink or toilet is never a fun task, but it could be a simple fix with these tips and the right tools!

Toilet Plunger vs. Sink Plunger

The plunger you’re most likely familiar with is called a ‘cup plunger’—this plunger has a flat bottom and generally looks like an overturned bowl. Due to its flat bottom, the cup plunger is intended for use on bathtubs and sinks. The base will fit neatly against the surface of your bathtub or sink and form a tight seal to help force air and water through your drain to help clear out a clog.

The second plunger you may know of is called a ‘flange plunger’. This plunger has an extra ring of rubber on the bottom intended to fit inside the toilet drain to increase suction power and make it easier to plunge a stubborn toilet clog.

Can you use a sink plunger for the toilet?

In a pinch, either of these plungers can be used to clear a clog, but neither will get the job done as efficiently or effectively as using the intended plunger will. The cup plunger’s flat bottom won’t seal neatly against the curved toilet bowl, making it more difficult to get good suction while plunging. The flange plunger’s extra rubber can be rolled back to create more of a flat surface and can work if there aren’t other options, but it’s better to have both plungers in your home if possible.

How to Unclog a Toilet

There are many ways to unclog a toilet. First, don’t keep flushing to try and clear the bowl. If the water level is close to overflowing, let the toilet sit for 10 minutes and allow the water level to fall before attempting to plunge the toilet. If the water level is too low, you may have to add some water from the sink—having enough water in the bowl helps create good suction to clear the blockage.

If you’re using a plunger, make sure the flange is resting tightly inside the toilet drain. After plunging a few times, the obstruction should clear. If it doesn’t, try again or try one of these other methods to clear a blockage without a plunger:

  1. Get some dish soap and squirt a few drops into your toilet bowl. The soap could help the blockage loosen and clear more easily.

  2. Pour a cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl. Pour hot water into the bowl after the mixture has a chance to fizz up—the chemical reaction and force of hot water can help clear a blockage without using harsh chemicals found in drain cleaners.

How to Unclog a Sink

Unclogging a sink requires the use of a cup plunger for the best results. Simply cover the drain with the cup, making sure the edges of the plunger form a tight seal on the surface of the sink. Push down gently on the handle of the plunger and continue this movement for about 20 seconds. If your obstruction hasn’t cleared after 20 seconds of plunging, you may have a hard blockage that requires a drain snake.

Plunging a toilet or sink is a task every homeowner will have to do at least once in their lives, but if you’re experiencing frequent clogs, you may have a more serious problem in your plumbing. Contact Wilbur's Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing for drain clearing or emergency plumbing services! Contact us online or by phone at (205) 509-2139 to schedule your appointment today.