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Renters and Plumbing Repairs

Most of our posts are written for homeowners who actually live in their homes, but this post is geared towards homeowners who rent or lease out one or more homes. It’s valuable for renters too!

When you’re a homeowner who is living in your home, you’re fairly cost-conscious. You know that if there’s a leak in the roof, you have to call a roofer and take care of it.

You have to make sure that the lawn looks good year-round so the neighbors don’t complain, and you have to replace the garbage disposal or dishwasher when they outlive their lifespan and breakdown for good. There’s no landlord or property manager to call when something needs to be maintained or repaired – it’s all on you.

With the cost of repairs always in the back of your mind, you’re mindful about your property (inside and out), and you do whatever you can to ensure everything is working efficiently and properly. Many renters, on the other hand, don’t think like a homeowner.

When the dishwasher breaks, the renter calls the landlord. When there’s “yet another” clog in the sink or the toilet, the renter places a call to the landlord. When the garbage disposal is jammed, the renter calls the landlord. When their toddler flushes a toy car down the toilet, the first thing the distraught renter does is call their landlord about the clog, though they may leave the “toy car” part out.

Often, plumbers are bombarded with calls for rental homes because renters fail to “think like a homeowner” and instead they abuse their plumbing, which leads to preventable service calls from plumbers like us. It’s not necessarily intentional, it may just be a lack of understanding of how plumbing works.

What Is a Homeowner to Do?

We know that each landlord handles drain clogs and stoppages differently – it all depends on the lease agreement. Some leases state that the landlord will cover such issues, while others say the tenant is responsible for it. When the tenant is responsible, they often can’t handle it on their own and have to call in a professional plumber.

Regardless of what the lease says, some basic plumbing education can help tenants prevent clogs from forming. Landlords would also be wise if they arranged to have the drains professionally cleaned once every year or two, or at least when a tenant moves out.

So, what can a landlord do to reduce clogged toilets, kitchen sink drains, bathtubs and showers? They can either have their tenant read this blog, or they can write up (on a word document) some basic tips on preventing clogs and give it to their tenant to read.

Tips for preventing clogged drains:

  • Don’t pour grease down the kitchen sink drain. Instead, pour it in a jar and dispose of it in the trash. Or, wipe pans out with paper towels and throw them in the trash.
  • Use hair catching screens in all bathroom drains and clean the screens regularly.
  • Don’t flush anything down the toilet except toilet paper. When you flush baby wipes, tissues, kitty litter, medications, matches, or even trash down the toilet, the object can get stuck in the pipe and debris can collect around it until a clog is formed.
  • Don’t put egg shells, uncooked pasta, large chunks of food, fibrous materials like celery, potato or carrot peels, rice, or coffee grinds down the garbage disposal because these can all lead to a stubborn drain clog and a malfunctioning garbage disposal.
  • Before you call a plumber, try a Zip-It tool for bathroom sinks (under $2.00 from Wal-Mart or Home Depot), or a plunger (for all sinks and bathtubs). Often, a handy plunger will work wonders and the clog can be cleared up in a matter of minutes.

If you are a landlord or tenant who needs professional plumbing services in Kansas City, call A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. to schedule a service call!