Renting your first apartment or home, whether you are still in college or just recently graduated, is an exciting time, but before you throw your house warming party, you should familiarize yourself with your unit’s plumbing systems and take some preventative measures to ensure your stay in your new home is as comfortable and hassle free as possible!
Here are some tips to become a prepared renter:
Take a Tour
- Ask your landlord to show you and your roommates where the main water shutoff valve is located
- Make sure the valve works as old valves can break easily
- Have the landlord tag the valve so that you can locate it quickly in case of emergency
- If you have a water emergency, like a broken water heater, shutting off the main shutoff valve will prevent further water from flowing anywhere in your home
- Know where the individual shutoffs are for toilets and sinks to stop isolated problems
- When an overflow occurs, you have the ability to turn of the water valve for the individual toilet or sink
- Ask your landlord questions
- Have there been any sewer issues in the past or are there any existing sewer line issues?
- Are any pipes prone to freezing, if so, which ones?
- Are there any general plumbing issues or information about the house you should be aware of?
Prevent the Hassle
- Buy strainers for your kitchen sink, shower, and utility/laundry room sink. Strainers catch food, hair, or other debris that can cause buildup and clog your pipes
- If you do not have a garbage disposal, a strainer is essential in preventing unwanted debris from clogging the sink
- Make sure your water heater is set at 120°F
- 120°F is the industry standard setting and ensures that your water temperature is not scolding hot or freezing
- Be aware of what you can and cannot flush down the toilet
- Make sure you pick the right plunger to help dislodge any clogs that may occur
- Stay away from liquid drain cleaner as the harmful chemicals can damage your pipes
- Make sure you properly use your garbage disposal
Prepare for Winter
- Turn off the outside water and disconnect any outside hoses to prevent pipes from freezing
- Have the landlord show you where the valve for the outside water is located
- Shutting off outside water is a necessary step in winterizing your plumbing to prevent frozen pipes
- When you are away, make sure your thermostat is set between 55ºF-60ºF to save energy and to keep your rental at a reasonable temperature to prevent frozen pipes. Also, turn the temperature of your water heater down to low or Vacation Mode
- Open cabinets or doors that house water pipes on exterior walls to allow warm air to circulate and prevent freezing