When a drain is clogged—whether it’s a sink, a toilet, or a tub—the first thing to try is breaking up the clog by plunging the drain with a plunger, also known as a “plumber’s helper.”
Be sure you have one that has an elongated bell shape; the bell—needed to properly plunge a toilet—folds up so that the shape of the plunger becomes flat around the end for plunging sinks and tubs. A plunger always works better if you put enough water into the fixture to cover the plunger.
To plunge a sink or tub, first remove the strainer and pop-up. Stuff a rag into a plastic bag, and use this to plug the overflow hole. Fill the fixture with enough water to cover the plunger’s flat rubber cup. Plunge steadily up and down 15 or 20 times and intersperse a few powerful pushes. Keep the plunger tightly sealed against the fixture. A plunger doesn’t usually work on shower drains, but it’s worth a try; be sure the water level covers the plunger.
To plunge a toilet, fill the bowl about half full. Push the bell-shaped end of the plunger down into the drain, and, maintaining a tight seal, rapidly pump 10 to 20 times with short strokes.
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