Plumbing troubles are one of the most frequent issues that arise at a property. While some plumbing problems arise due to aging fixtures or normal wear and tear on equipment, other plumbing problems can be caused by how the system is used and maintained. Plumbing maintenance and care is something that tenants should perform and practice regularly to avoid small solvable problems turning into larger problems in the future.
The most common plumbing issues we see are clogged drains and toilets, water heater problems, and leaky faucets or pipes. Some of these plumbing issues can be easily solved using our troubleshooting tips, while other plumbing issues are best left to professionals. If you have a plumbing issue that is not listed below, or that you were unable to resolve yourself, please submit a maintenance request to our office.
Items that are Tenant Responsibility
Many minor plumbing issues are your responsibility, per your lease agreement and tenant handbook, as minor plumbing issues are often caused from misuse or neglect. Be sure that nothing foreign is introduced into the plumbing system. You will be responsible for items found inside the toilet or for cracked or otherwise damaged toilet tanks.
- You are responsible for keeping all sinks, lavatories and commodes open. It is your responsibility to plunge clogged toilets. You are also responsible for making minor plumbing repairs needed as a result of tenant use, such as broken toilet seats, clogged drains, dripping faucets, and running toilets.
- You will be responsible for any plumbing stoppage and sewer or septic tank back up after five (5) days of occupancy if it is determined the cause was improper use or foreign items introduced into the plumbing system.
- You are responsible for lighting your gas water heater pilot light and can be held responsible if the water heater tank is damaged because it was drained.
- You are responsible to safeguard the property during the winter months by leaving a faucet dripping and wrapping exposed pipes in freezing temperature. If precautions are not taken, you will be charged for damage to plumbing pipes.
General Care and Use Tips for All Plumbing and Sewer Systems
Many common plumbing issues including blockages, stoppages, and slow moving drains, are a result of improper use or failure to maintain these systems. Remember, your plumbing system is made to move water and waste through the property and is never a substitute for a trash can. Additionally, drains require routine cleaning to rid them of build up, like hair and other foreign objects that are susceptible to falling in the drain.
There are several items that should never be put into your plumbing systems, whether you are on city sewer or a septic tank. These items include, but are not limited to, feminine products, disposable diapers or wipes, paper towels, hair, condoms, grease, floss, coffee grounds, and any other foreign items besides human waste.
General Care and Use Tips for Septic Systems
Properties with septic tanks are more susceptible to stoppages than a normal plumbing system. It’s especially important not to introduce foreign objects inside your plumbing systems if you have a septic tank. Feminie products, paper towels, disposable diapers and disposable wipes are among the top items that clog septic tanks.
In addition, if you have a septic tank, you should not excessively use bleach or other cleaning products. It is best to use Rid X or similar products monthly in the septic system to keep the septic tank working properly.
Unfortunately, when we have periods of intense rain and wet weather, your drain field lines may become saturated and your septic tank may not drain well. In these instances, there’s nothing that can be done but limit water use during this time. Do not overload the tank by using water excessively in these situations. For example, run the dishwasher at night when water use is low and spread laundry over time rather than doing multiple loads in one day.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
How to Unclog your Toilet
Many times clogged toilets are due to over-stuffing or foreign objects, and can easily be remedied with a few simple steps. Always attempt to clear the blockage with a plunger, and be sure no foreign objects were placed in the toilet. Try adding hot water, not boiling water to avoid cracking the toilet, and then add about a ¼ cup of dish soap. Allow the dish soap and hot water to sit for about 10 minutes. If the water does not drain on its own, try plunging again. If your property is not on a septic tank, we recommend using Drano Max Buildup in the toilet as directed. Allow the product to sit in the toilet and attempt to plunge the toilet again.
How to Shut off Water in an Emergency Situation
All water sources have a water shut off valve and can be turned off in the event of an emergency. If there is a whole house water emergency or you cannot shut off the valve to the area leaking, you will need to turn off the water at the meter. This requires a water meter tool or a call to your water company. If you are unsure how to do this, call your water company immediately.
Here’s Travis with 1st Class Plumbing to show us how to shut off water to your toilet and to your water heater.
How to Turn Off the Water For The Toilet
Is your toilet running, leaking, or even worse, overflowing? Turn off the water to the toilet immediately. The water flow can usually be stopped by pushing the flapper firmly over the hole in the bottom of the tank. Try this first. If that is not successful, turn off the water supply by turning the shut-off valve in a clockwise direction. The shut-off valve is located under the toilet tank.If the valve is stuck you could try some handy WD40 or in a pinch, some vegetable oil, or turn the water off to the house.
How to Shut Off Water Heater when Leaking
Locate the water shut off valve at the top of the water heater. It’s located on the right side of the water heater facing the water heater. Locate the temperature and pressure valve which is either located on the top or bottom of the water heater and pull the valve to release the pressure.
How to Turn Off Water to the Sink
If the sink is leaking badly or will not turn off, locate the water supply lines. Similar to the toilet, water supply valves can be found under the sink. Similar to a toilet, the sink will have two shut off valves, one for hot water and one for cold. Turn the valves clockwise until the water turns off.
How to Fix a Running Toilet
If the toilet is running, try jiggling the handle to be sure it is not stuck. If that does not work, open the tank lid and firmly push down the flapper to create a seal. Replacing flappers are part of routine maintenance, and it’s easy to do.
How to Unclog Sink or Shower Drain
Clogged drains are often caused by build up, hair or other particles that got caught in the drain. To clear a clogged drain or shower, you may need some tools, but they are easy to find and affordable. Our favorite drain clog tool to clear your drains can be found anywhere. It’s a long, skinny plastic tool with teeth on it to easily grab hair that accumulates in your plumbing pipes. After you use this tool to remove the clog, you can follow it up with some drain cleaner, unless you are in a home with septic. You may find it easier to clear the drain if you simply remove the drain cover. Please be sure to replace it after you clear the drain. This preventative maintenance can be done in sinks and showers. Be sure to do this maintenance routinely to keep drains running smoothly.
Preparing your Home for a Hard Freeze
It is your responsibility to protect your pipes during cold weather events. If precautions are not taken to protect pipes inside and out, including sprinkler, backflow, and pool piping, the pipes will freeze and burst causing costly repairs. Luckily, this is easy to do. Here’s a video to show you how!