Drains and Plumbing

How to Use a Plunger for Toilet and Sink Drain Repair

Like many simple tools, the plunger looks like a no-brainer. But, like many simple tools, it can be wholly ineffective in the hands of a novice. To use the plunger, place it against the drain and make sure the rubber ring on the bottom of the plunger has made an airtight seal. Push slowly down, and pull quickly up to engage the suction. Repeat several times, until the clog breaks up or you get tired and have to stop. If you try plunging and it doesn't work, you may proceed with using the home remedies and combine them with plunging.
Vinegar and baking soda won't hurt you if they get splashed about, and using a combination of solution and mechanical drain opening techniques might succeed where either alone might fail.

There are a couple of different designs for plungers, and depending on the clog, some may work better than others. The classic design, in use since before the Second World War, is a rubber suction cup attached to a wooden handle. The cup is designed to fit over flat surfaces, but is flexible enough to be pushed over a curve, which also makes it useful for plunging toilets. In cheap plungers, the wooden handle may pull out from the suction cup, so before you buy a plunger, test it to make sure the handle is securely attached.

Another design, especially designed for the interior curve of modern toilets, consists of a handle attached to a bulging upper unit of rubber or plastic, connected by a series of collapsible rings to the lower unit, which is somewhat narrower and flexible, designed to be pushed onto the rim of the toilet drain. This type of plunger has an advantage in toilets in that it can take in more air than the ordinary plunger, and the collapsible rings compress when the user is plunging, applying more pressure and more effectively pushing clogs forward.

Every household should have a plunger, and it's advisable to have one for each toilet in the house as well as one used only for sinks.

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Natural Drain Cleaner for Clogged Drains

The first thing you need to know before working on a clogged drain is that the drain cleaners you see advertised on TV or on the supermarket shelves are made of dangerous chemicals that will eat through rubber gloves, skin, certain kinds of pipe, wood and anything else they touch. If their fumes are inhaled, they can cause damage to the lungs, nose and mouth. If they are eaten, they will kill, even in small amounts. Even when they are used "properly", they can ruin septic systems, pollute groundwater, and destroy pipes.

For a more healthy and safe alternative, try a natural drain cleaner, such as Drainbo, that is made from natually occuring bacteria that will fix a clogged drain, but won't hurt your drain pipes or the environment.

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