10 Plumbing Tips Every Renter Should Know

Plumbing Tips For Renters

Eliminating the risk of losing your home value, the flexibility to easily move when your lease ends, and lower maintenance costs are just some of the many advantages of renting. While the landlord manages or owns the property, you still have responsibilities in order to keep it in good condition.

Here are some plumbing tips for renters to maximize deposit refunds at the end of the lease:

Before You Move in:

1. Know Your Rights

As a renter, it is important to understand your rights. Landlords are required to keep buildings and units in a habitable condition and ensure that the dwelling is structurally sound, provide hot and cold water, ensure that the roof is not leaking, and keep all plumbing, electrical and heating systems in a safe operating condition.

2. Communicate with Your Landlord

Have a discussion with your landlord to come to an agreement about certain financial responsibilities during your lease agreement.  Ensure you understand who will handle the repairs when plumbing issues arise and what your duties are for maintenance.  As a renter, educate yourself about appropriate appliance usage and maintenance for longevity.  Knowing certain things like what and what not to put down your garbage disposal for instance,  can add up to saving you and your landlord precious time and money (both your and theirs). It is always recommended to get these and any other agreements in writing to refer back to should a problem ever arise.

3. Take a Tour

If possible, try to make an appointment in advance, but when that exciting day comes when you finally get to pick up the keys, make sure you take the time to take a tour of the property and check out your plumbing. Take this time as an opportunity to document any existing damages and current conditions of appliances at time of move in.  Make sure to ask where the main water shut off valve is located . The water main shut off valve can be used in a plumbing emergency to stop all water flowing into the rental property and your personal belongings.  Additionally, inspect and test the individual shut off vales for the toilets and sinks the make sure they are operating as expected so when something wrong occurs, you are ready.  This may mean the difference between having the water leaking contained in your apartment or spreading down to any neighbors below.  It may be a good idea to check out renters' insurance coverage as well.  

4. Ask Questions

This may sound like a given however, far too often we run into renters that didn't take the time to get properly informed about the plumbing in their new home. Ask if there are any general plumbing issues or nuances you should be aware of, if any pipes are prone to freezing in the winter, do they suffer from hard water calcium buildup, and if there have been any sewer issues in the past. Now's the time to speak up and ask about anything that doesn’t look up to par.  Also keep in mind that you are responsible also for not neglecting the plumbing and doing you part. 

While You Rent:

5. Protect Your Drain

Use strainers to protect the drains in your sinks, showers and bathtubs. Strainers will catch extra food, hair, or other debris that cause build up and eventually clog your pipes. Also, be sure to NEVER put fats, oils, grease, rice or pasta and fibrous materials like corn husks down your drain.  These will expand and bloat or tangle up, causing blockage.

6. Learn Simple Plumbing Repair

Even if you have a landlord, it’s important to know how to tackle some of the more common plumbing problems. A big one is dealing with your toilet.  Some of the more common toilet issues are clogged and leaking toilets. (HINT: It’s definitely a good idea to buy a plunger to keep in your bathroom and some Kool Aid in the pantry.)  Knowing how to use a plunger can make the difference of keeping a plumbing emergency to a minimum.  It is always good to know how to quickly turn off your toilet water valves, too.  

7. Keep Your Washing Machine Working

Like all household appliances a little preventative maintenance can go a long way with you washing machine. While the landlord should deal with the functionality of it, you’ll want to keep it clean so it can effectively clean your clothes and linens.  Cleaning your washing machine regularly will also prevent mold and mildew from growing causing your washing machine and even worse, clothing to smell.  There are simple products you can purchase to keep your appliances clean and fresh.  

8. Prevent Frozen Pipes in the Winter

When water freezes, it expands and the extra pressure can cause your plumbing pipes to burst. Wrapping any exterior exposed pipes is often a good idea; this is something that the property owner should already know to do but if you notice they haven't, make the helpful suggestion as it can benefit both the renter and owner.  However, if you're going out of town, you may want to look into additional measures.  Something as simple as leaving cupboard doors open under the sink to allow warmer air to circulate by the pipes, may be all the difference you need. Another frequently used trick is to keep a small drip flowing through your faucets as this will allow constant water to flow and nothing to freeze up.  You can even catch that water with another bucket to recycle, so nothing is wasted.  

9. Lower Your Bills

If you’re paying for your hot water, you can lower your bill and avoid possible scalding water burns by setting the water heater to the appropriate temperature. Water heaters should be set to the industry standard of 120°F. Adjusting the temperature is an easy fix you can do yourself or if you don't feel confident messing with the water heater, simply request it with your property maintenance technician.

At the End of Your Lease:

10. Clean Up

Leaving your home or apartment in it's optimal condition is the best way to avoid being charged additional cleaning expenses and ensuring you get most of your security deposit back. Make sure to clean your plumbing fixtures such as your garbage disposal, shower and sink drains, and washing machine, in addition to cleaning the rest of your home.  You may also always request a pre-move out inspection with your property owner to give you the opportunity to make any additional adjustments to the rental prior to vacating and returning possession.  

With this list and tips in mind, you should be set up for a successful and comfortable residency in your newly rented property.