Plunger Or Plumber—Which One Is Right For Your Drains?

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It's an almost universal tale: you step into the kitchen and start making dinner for the night, only to discover water rapidly backing up into your sink basin. Or maybe you're about to enjoy a nice hot shower but find yourself standing in a wading pool instead. Everyone has stories like these, but what's the best way to deal with these problems with minimal disruption and cost? 

An emergency plumbing call can be expensive, so it's understandable if your first instinct is to bust out the tools you have available. However, it's important to know when to bring in an expert, even if you decide to wait until morning instead of making an emergency call. These three questions will help you answer that age-old question everyone asks when faced with a clog—plunger or plumber?

1. Is Water Flooding Into Your Home?

It probably goes without saying, but water should go down your drains. If water starts coming back up, that's often a sign of a fairly serious issue. If the water stops coming up when you stop the faucet, it's likely a simple clog. However, water that continues coming up through a drain or all by itself likely indicates a deeper clog or a problem with your home's sewer vents.

Since you don't know the source of this water, the safest bet is often to call in a professional. Just because the water doesn't smell or look dark doesn't mean it isn't backing up from a potentially harmful source. If you're in doubt about whether that water flowing into your sink might be sewage or other wastewater, it's better to call a plumber and leave the plunger alone.

 2. Is the Clog in a Challenging Area?

Getting a plunger on a clogged toilet or tub drain is relatively easy, but what about some of the more challenging areas in your home? For example, if you have a central air conditioner or high-efficiency furnace, these appliances need to drain condensate. Clogs in these lines can damage your equipment or, if you have HVAC equipment in your attic, even flood your home.

In most cases, there's no simple way to clear these drain lines without at least some disassembly. While taking apart HVAC drains is usually relatively simple, it can still be intimidating if you aren't particularly handy. Once you notice these drain lines backing up, contacting a plumber is probably a good idea.

3. Are You Making Zero Progress?

Plumbers come to any job with plenty of tools, in part because stubborn clogs often require specialized equipment. In many cases, using the same tool repeatedly isn't enough to get the job done. If you find that you're plunging and plunging but making almost no progress, there's a good chance that you aren't going to be able to get your drain clean on your own.

While plungers and homeowner snakes are safe tools, there's still a risk of causing damage to your pipes if you continually try to force a clog that won't budget. In these cases, calling in a plumber is often the safest, quickest, and most efficient way to get your drain running freely again.

To learn more, visit a drain cleaning site, such as