Plumbing Maintenance Guide for Tenants

This is a guide on how tenants can troubleshoot common plumbing issues that may arise. These plumbing issues are common requests that can be resolved without a plumber.

Please review the below steps before submitting plumbing maintenance and repair requests on Hemlane or to your landlord/property manager. The majority of landlords and property managers will charge the tenant if a licenesed professional is sent out to perform these troubleshooting requests. Licensed plumbers are over $100 an hour in most regions, and therefore it is important for tenants to properly look at the plumbing issue before reaching out with a maintenance request.

Leaky Faucet

Most likely, this is a failed washer inside the handle. The faucet is the messenger for the handle.

Fix: Replace the washer

  1. Turn off the water supply valve under the sink. It is recommended to put a cloth or something over the drain to avoid losing parts.
  2. Take the handle apart: Pop the screw cover on top, remove the screw, and pull off the handle.
  3. Disassemble the stem: Use a wrench and line the parts up on the counter in the order they came off, so you know how it goes back together. Examine rubber parts or plastic cartridges for cracks. Any cracked pieces should be taken to your local hardware store for an exact replacement.
  4. Reassemble the stem: From what you laid out, put back in reverse.

Check out these videos for further information on fixing various faucets.

Kitchen Sink Backup

According to TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, chemicals rarely resolve a stoppage and only make a small hole in the stoppage.

Fix: Reset the disposal button
If you have a garbage disposal and it is not working, then it may be a simple reset of the disposal button underneath your sink.

If that does not work, then the plumber will most likely need to address a backup in the disposal. Here is a video on unclogging the garbage disposal.

Preventative Tip #1: Be careful with the food you put down your sink, even if you have a garbage disposal. The best way to prevent any drainage problems in your kitchen sink is to not put any food, oil, fat, or grease down the disposal. Please compost or throw it away. Here are the top items that you should never put down your disposal:

  1. Oil, fat, and grease -- how to dispose of grease properly
  2. Stringy or starchy vegetables -- for example, celery, kale, lettuce, and potato peels should never be put down the drain
  3. Fruit seeds - the pit and seeds damage the disposal
  4. Pasta and rice - it expands every time water goes into your drain
  5. Egg shells - their thin blade can wrap around the disposal
  6. Coffee grounds - believe it or not, they get stuck in the disposal
  7. Bones - fish bones are the only exception

Preventative Tip #2: Be mindful of items, such as spoons or other metal objects, that may fall down the drain. You will want to carefully remove these, making sure that no one will turn on the disposal while you are reaching for the items.

Toilet is not working

There is a water turnoff valve behing the toilet. If the toilet is running and may cause an overflow, then immeidiately turn this valve off to stop the water flow. Here is a photo of what a typical toilet water valve looks like:

hand fixing plumbing issue

Fix: Plunge the toilet

  1. Make sure you have a very good functioning plunger, as some are better than others.
  2. Try and snake the plumbing line, even if you only have a wire coat hanger to do it.

Fix: Check that the flapper and chain are in tact
When you have a toilet that is continuously running, behind the toilet seat is a tank. When you open it up, please confirm the chain and flapper are in tact.

Low Water Pressure in Shower or Faucet

When the entire house is not experiencing low water pressure, it most likely is sentiment built up over time in the faucet or shower head.

Fix: Remove the buildup

  1. Make sure the water is fully shut off
  2. Unscrew the nozzle and look for signs of buildup
  3. Soak the nozzle (shower or faucet head) in a vinegar-water solution if you want to really clean it

Fix: Buy a new shower or faucet head
You can buy a replacement that is relatively inexpensive. A replacement shower head is typically very easy to screw on to replace the old shower head.

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