When your sink is clogged, you’ll want to reach for the right plunger. With a variety of plungers to choose from, your instinct may be to overlook the standard plunger — a simple rubber cup, attached to a wooden handle — especially with more modern models on the market. However, to unclog your kitchen sink, those extra, modern features may actually hinder you.
How Standard Plungers Work
A standard plunger unclogs a kitchen sink better than its more modern counterparts because of the way it is designed to handle suction.
During the process of plunging a drain, you create a change in atmospheric pressure. When you press the plunger down, the atmospheric pressure increases because the air trapped inside has nowhere to go. This motion pushes against the clog. When you pull the plunger back up, the atmospheric pressure decreases and creates a vacuum that pulls against the clog.
Unclogging your kitchen sink hinges upon creating the best possible environment for the changes in atmospheric pressure to work their magic. You create this environment by making the best possible seal between the plunger and the sink’s surface.
Why They’re the Best
So why does a standard plunger handle suction better than other styles of plunger? A standard plunger doesn’t have a flange — an excess piece of rubber designed to hug curved surfaces. Often, kitchen sinks feature a flat base around the drain. The flangeless, flat surface of a standard plunger forms the most ideal seal for the flat surface of the kitchen sink.
Other plungers, such as beehive or accordion style plungers, feature the rubber flange that the standard plunger doesn’t have. Designed to fit into the curved opening of a toilet, a flange makes beehive and accordion style plungers ideal for toilet plunging.
When plunging a kitchen sink, beehive and accordion plungers can collapse and neutralize the atmospheric pressure. This is due to both their flange and the extra height both models tend to have.
This doesn’t mean a nonstandard plunger won’t work to unclog a kitchen sink, but it does mean more force will be required to release the clog. You may also notice the plunger frequently getting unseated from the sink’s surface.
How to Make the Most of Them
Now that you know why the standard plunger is the best tool for the job, there a few tips for capitalizing on its improved suction for the kitchen sink. To get the best seal between the cup of the plunger and the sink base, use petroleum jelly to line the rim of the plunger cup. The petroleum jelly will help prevent the cup from slipping on the sink base.
After you’ve applied the petroleum jelly to the plunger cup, you’ll want to evaluate the water situation. If water isn’t present in the sink you’re plunging, you want to add just enough water to cover the plunger’s cup. This provides outside pressure to secure the plunger to your sink’s surface, maintaining the atmospheric pressure you’ll be working hard to keep in motion.
When the plunger cup is beneath the water, you’ll want to slowly press down. This will form the initial seal and air won’t be able to escape. Finally, when you begin plunging be sure to use the plunger in a straight up and down motion. If you plunge from an angle, you risk breaking the seal and making more work for yourself.
Sometimes even when using the best tool for the job, your sink could remain clogged. If you need help unclogging your kitchen sink, reach out to Billy Bell Plumbing Inc and we’ll get your sink unclogged in no time.