Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The all-purpose plunger

The toilet plunger is one of those tools that deserves a better name.

Just the fact that it starts with the word "toilet" makes it sound filthy, whether or not it actually is.  And it's a much more useful tool than the name implies.

My family lives in a fairly old house; when we moved in we had three pre-teen girls plus me and my husband.  Our various shower and sink drains were constantly getting clogged with girl-hair.  As you can imagine, we tried a lot of different, often-expensive things.
  • My husband was a fan of buying Drano and other chemical cleaners.  We also went on a kick of trying biological (enzyme) cleaners.  These worked okay but not great, and we kept having to go out and buy more.
  • I have a plumber's snake and serious wrenches that my father had taught me to use (thanks, Dad!).  But taking apart old rusty pipes to get at a clog has its own difficulties and costs.  We've had to replace a few pipes thanks to my vigorous repairs (whoops). 
  • We've occasionally gotten so frustrated we've hired profe$$ional plumbers.  Ugh.
And then, last year, the boys came downstairs to complain about a clogged sink.  I had a moment of inspiration (or was it my dad's long-forgotten lesson coming back to me?).  I grabbed the . . . um . . . sink plunger, pushed hard a few times, and the clog was gone.  A few days later, I got to use my . . . er . . .  shower plunger.  Worked again.  

I'm sure my dad tried to teach this technique to me long ago, and I feel a little like a slow student for remembering this so late in my adult life.   Speaking of students, unfortunately, I don't think this tool will help me grade the student papers that have backed up all around me.  Time to get back to work.


  1. Annalisa
    This is so funny! I learned the other way : the plunger was used everywhere in the house, it only occured to me many many years later that it was found in the toilets in other homes...
    From Belgium,

  2. This little trick has saved me SO MUCH in plumbers fees over the years, it's my first resort for any slow drain!

  3. Continue to tap smartly against the bowl until everything clears. Strange as it may seem, just when you think the technique for toilet repairs isn't going to work everything goes down smoothly.