Calling the plumber is a phone call nobody wants to make. Even if your landlord covers major plumbing services it can still be time-consuming and extremely inconvenient. Of course, there are times when you must call the plumber, for example when you cannot stop the water flow and the landlord is nowhere to be found. However, every renter can master these five simple hacks to handle minor plumbing emergencies and save big money.
1. Unclog the Toilet without a Plunger
The first time your toilet is clogged and you cannot reach the super, you’ll probably call your parents. They tell you to get out your toilet plunger and clear the clog. That’s when you realize that you forgot to buy a plunger. Fortunately, there are two other ways you can try to unclog your toilet, as long as it is not overflowing and the clog is not a solid object, like your cell phone.
Use Hot Water and Soap
- Remove the cover on the tank and disconnect the chain from the toilet handle. This will stop the flow of water going into your toilet bowl.
- Fill a container with hot (not boiling) water and soap — dish soap or even shampoo will work. Pour the water down the toilet bowl to break down the clog. As long as the clog is either toilet paper or organic, the heat combined with the soap should break it down.
- Repeat, if necessary.
Use Baking Soda and White Vinegar
- You’ll need one cup of baking soda and one cup of plain white vinegar.
- Pour the baking soda into the toilet bowl. Slowly add vinegar and see the mixture bubble.
- Wait about half an hour and then pour hot water into the bowl. See this video for further instructions.
2. Fix Leaky Pipes with Plumber’s Tape
- Turn off your water supply.
- Place a bucket underneath where your pipes meet the threads. This will catch the remaining water that’s still in your sink.
- Disconnect the pipes underneath the sink at the threads. A monkey wrench is preferred.
- In a clockwise direction, wrap plumbers tape around the threads.
- Reconnect the pipes. The tape will create a tighter grip around the pipes and stop the leak(s).
3. Find Toilet Leaks with Food Coloring
If you are paying for water separately from your rent and the bill seems too high, check if your toilet is slowly leaking. If the leak is bad enough, you’ll hear the toilet running continuously, but even a smaller leak that you do not hear can waste gallons of water a day. Leaky toilets aren’t a simple fix, but they are easy to detect.
Check for Toilet Leaks
- Remove the cover on the tank.
- Drop a few drops of food coloring into the tank and leave for 30 minutes.
- If there is food coloring in your toilet bowl when you come back—you have a leaky toilet.
- Call your landlord and report the problem. Fixing leaky and running toilets is a job for professionals. (If you do have some mechanical skills and want to give the fix a try yourself, follow this step-by-step guide, but have the plumber’s number handy in case something goes wrong.)
4. Fix Water Pressure In Your Shower by Cleaning the Shower Head
- Unscrew the shower head and remove the spray plate.
- Soak the spray plate and shower head in white vinegar for 3-5 hours.
- Brush off any loose dirt with an old toothbrush and rinse all the parts in clean water.
- Re-attach the spray plate and shower head and enjoy the increased water pressure!
- If unscrewing the shower head/ spray plate is not an option, fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and place it around your shower head. Make sure to secure it with an elastic band.
- Let it soak overnight so that it can eat away at the build up.
- Remove the plastic bag and elastic band and brush off any debris with an old tooth brush.
- Rinse the shower head and relish the new feel of your shower.
5. Deodorize Your Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals are incredibly convenient, but they can create an aroma that’s unpleasant for you and your guests. Deodorizing your garbage disposal is a straightforward process.
- Put ice cubes and small pieces of lemon peel down your garbage disposal.
- Turn on your garbage disposal.
- Let the disposal run for 30-45 seconds.
- Turn off the garbage disposal and remove any debris leftover.
- Repeat if necessary.
These simple hacks can be incredibly useful, but it’s important for you to know that they won’t necessarily fix everything. If there’s a persistent or urgent plumbing issue, make sure to contact your landlord or call a plumber.
Our contributing blogger, Brandon Jarman, is a recent Brigham Young University graduate who is currently living in Salt Lake City. When he’s not writing, he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and eating delicious Mexican food.