Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Plunging Like a Champion

Nothing kills a dinner party like an inoperable sink drain or toilet. The inability to throw away pasta water, dinner scraps, or flush can brings things to a screeching halt. The go to for many is liquid drain cleaner, but not only is it bad fore the environment, but it may not be necessary.  Not all clogs are alike. Certain drain debris cannot be dissolved easily, and may require more than a nasty chemical to get rid of it.

We have to remember that everything is connected. The days of pouring anything down the drain are long gone. Our public sewer lines are complex infrastructures whose path and destination changes depending on where you live. Many old communities have combined storm water and sewer lines, meaning the road drains end up in the same place our house sewer lines do: the sewage treatment plant. And when it rains, many of the plants used to get overwhelmed and the untreated sewage and storm water ended up in waterways. Newer systems try to hold the extra water until it is treated, preventing the fouling of our waterways. But pouring chemicals down the drain does not get treated per se, just diluted in the volume of water. So that means it is still there, just in lesser amounts.

So even if we don’t care where stuff goes, why not choose the easier and better method? Whenever I run into a slow or clogged drain I go for a plunger. But, which one? From the 1950’s to 2000, we pretty much had two types of plungers: a wood handled cup or flange. The cup plunger was red, and used for sinks, tubs, or anything with a flat drain. A flange plunger was black, and used for toilets (hopefully nothing else). But today big box stores and the Internet offers enough plunger options to make your head swirl. Although honestly you still only need the two types, unless you have specific and regular plunging needs. For anything the cup or flange plunger does not work for I would root the line, or better yet, call a rooter service or a plumber.

For the best plunge, you need good suction. A toilet is easy, just be sure the flange fits snug in the drain. But for a sink, you want prevent any air loss. Garbage disposals with a dishwasher attached, a second sink, or over flow drains on a sink or tub can allow air to escape as you plunge. You want a good seal, so you can close up whatever you can. Tub or sink overflows, or a second drain can be stuffed with a plastic bag, but things like a dishwasher hook-up may slow down progress, but you will know once you start.

The best plunge is opposite what you think: pulling not pushing. I push down slow and pull up fast. A few attempts should do the trick, as long as you have good suction. If not, check to see where you may be loosing air.

So be the party hero and know how to plunge like a champion. Better yet prevent the need to make, transport, and use nasty chemicals.