Moving into your first apartment is exciting, but with this big change also comes a lot of responsibility. In most cases, your landlord is responsible for making and paying for any repairs that become necessary due to regular wear and tear.
In the case of a big problem, such as a sewage leak or burst pipes, your first call should certainly be to your landlord. However, he or she is sure to be annoyed if you call every time the toilet clogs or a sink is draining slowly. Learning how to fix the most common minor plumbing issues by yourself will prove incredibly useful, and is a great way to get on your landlord's good side by being a low-maintenance tenant.
Unclogging A Toilet
If your toilet becomes clogged and starts overflowing, the first thing you need to do is turn the water valve, which is typically located at the base of the toilet, counterclockwise to close it. You can skip this step if the toilet is blocked, but not overflowing.
Proceed by plunging the toilet. Place the plunger over the opening in the bottom of the toilet, and use forceful up and down movements to push water in and out of the drain. Lift the plunger up, and try flushing the toilet. If the clog does not clear, try another round of plunging and then flush again.
If plunging does not clear the clog, obtain a pipe snake, which looks like a long, coiled wire. Feed the snake down the drain, and then turn it in a circle so that the tip breaks up the clog. You may even be able to use the snake to pull debris up and out of the drain. Flush the toilet, and watch to ensure the contents go down easily.
It's very unlikely that you won't be able to remove a clog with a plunger or pipe snake. However, if these efforts prove fruitless, it is time to call your landlord. The clog may be located further down the drain pipe and need to be removed by a plumber.
Unclogging a Blocked Drain
Did you know you can use a plunger on a sink drain too? If you're used it in the toilet before, you'll want to rinse it in some bleach water before using it in the sink. Fill the sink with enough water to keep the plunger submerged, and then pump away, just as you would with a toilet. Chances are, the clog will loosen.
Many people use chemical drain cleaners to clear clogged drains, but plumbers often recommend against this method since it can cause damage to pipes. If you're unable to clear your drain using a plunger, ask your landlord if it's okay to try a chemical drain cleaner. If he or she says yes, be sure to follow the package instructions to avoid damaging your pipes or harming yourself.
Fixing a Toilet That Constantly Runs
Most often, when a toilet is running constantly, it is because the flapper is worn out. The flapper is a rubber piece that covers the valve that controls the flow of water into the toilet bowl. Locate the flapper by taking off the back of the toilet and looking for the round rubber piece that sits in a valve. Typically, it will be attached to a long arm with a chain.
When you've located the flapper, detach its chain from the arm, and take it with you to the hardware store to make sure you purchase a new one of the same variety. You can put the new flapper on by simply hooking its hinges into the hooks on the valve and attaching the chain to the flush arm. Your toilet should now flush properly and stop running as soon as the bowl is full.
Knowing how to fix these common issues will go a long way towards making life in your new apartment easier. Keep in mind, however, that if you break something while attempting a repair, you might be liable to pay for the resulting damages. For this reason, it's important not to attempt repairs that are more extensive than the ones above.
Call your landlord if you have a major plumbing issue, suck as a leaking pipe or clogged drain that won't clear, as these problems are best handled by a professional plumber.