Monday, June 1, 2015

Fixes every renter should know

Once upon a time, renters didn't have to fix anything.....The End.  

Those days are long gone.  Try giving your landlord a call at 2 in the morning to tell him that your toilet is overflowing and see how quickly he jumps to come fix it.  But then again, why should he climb out of bed to fix your toilet?  Chances are the toilet's clogged up because of something you (or your children) tried to flush down it.

Leases these days are fairly specific about what the landlord is responsible for and what he's not responsible for.  If you insist on attempting to flush things down your toilet that truly aren't supposed to be flushed, pouring bacon grease down your sink until it clogs up or never cleaning the hair out of your shower/tub drain...then you should have to pay to have the plumber come out.  If your child or your mower throws a rock through a window, why should the landlord be responsible for replacing it?  Those are just a few of the fixes that a renter can be (and should be) held liable for.

So how to fix these nuisances?  Let look at the top three maintenance calls.

Let's start with the overflowing toilet.

Overflowing toilets are the worst!!  Unlike the picture above, I've never had a toilet overflow with clean water.....never.

There are the usual reasons for a toilet to overflow.  Either the drain is clogged or the floater isn't set properly.

First thing to do is turn off the water supply to your toilet.  Normally, there is a water supply line located on the bottom side of your toilet bowl with a valve attached to it.  Turn the value off.  This will stop any water from getting to your toilet.  This won't fix the problem, but it will prevent more water from spilling onto your floors while you either fix the problem or wait for the plumber to arrive.

If you can't find the valve another way to stop the water flow is to remove the cover of the tank and lift the floating ball high enough that the water stops running.  Next use a bucket to remove the water at the brim of your toilet bowl until the water level is well below the brim.  Don't pour this water out.  You will need it in another step.

The next thing you have to do is plunge your toilet until you notice water leaving the bowl.  Don't be afraid of this step.  Get in there and give it all you got!!  Once the water level goes down in the toilet bowl, it should mean the stoppage has been cleared.

Now you just need to pour the water you collected back in the toilet bowl and flush.  That should take care of the problem.  If it doesn't....repeat the plunging step and try again.  

If that still hasn't solved the problem....time to call a plumber.

Note:  Just because the packaging says it's safe to flush......doesn't mean it is.  The American Plumber Association begs people not to flush baby wipes, sanitary napkins, tampons, or baby diapers down their toilets.  Yet people still do it and wonder why their toilet becomes clogged.

Be wary of harsh drain cleaning products if you live in an older property.  Most older homes have metal pipes.  The chemicals in some of these drain cleaning products can and will eat through your pipes.  The end result is your toilet will drain....into your basement or beneath your house.  An old fashion hand auger that can be bought at any home improvement store will do the trick without damaging your pipes.

Clogged Sink

Even if you have a garbage disposal you should be extra careful about what goes into your sinks.  Any kind of animal product should be strictly avoided.  Grease, coffee grinds, gravy, bones, butter or anything else that will either congeal or that could penetrate a line or get wedged in a line should be avoided at all costs.

Should your sink become clogged, then dip as much of the water out of the sink as possible. Using a washcloth tightly stop up one of the sinks so the pressure exerted from plunging won't escape.  Next take your trusty plunger and go to work on the unstopped sink until the water drains freely.  Repeat as necessary.

If the above step doesn't work, then add a small box of baking soda to the clogged side making sure all the baking soda has gone down the drain.  Use the handle of a spoon or a skewer to push it down if necessary.  Then pour in a cup of vinegar.  Wait about 5 minutes to give the baking soda and vinegar time to do it's job.  At this point you should be able to run water through the sink without issue.

Most clogs happen in the area of pipe located just under your sink.  The "U" joint.  If you are good with your hands, you can unscrew this section (making certain to have a bucket beneath it to catch any water in the drain).  Once unscrewed, you can run an uncoiled clothes hanger through this section which should push out whatever was clogging the drain.  Then simply reattach and run water through the drain.  If this still hasn't done the trick...time to call a plumber.

Beeping Smoke Detector
These things can be so annoying when they wake you at night beeping.  Most common solution?  Replace the batteries.

As always, enjoy your space!