A few weeks ago I read a story in the Washington Post about the problem that flushable wipes are having on public sewer systems. If you haven't heard about this new consumer product then you will soon. Apparently the manufacturers of toilet paper are now producing a product that leaves you "fresh and clean." Apparently "soft and strong" just doesn't cut it anymore. The United States has always had a different take on how to deal with this daily task. In Europe it is hard to find a bathroom without a bidet. Ask an American about how to use one and you might get some strange answers.
All this led me, as a landlord, to think how this will only create new problems. Landlords are familiar with how tenants misuse plumbing in a house. The most frequent problems that occur in rentals are the following:
1) Garbage disposals
Many of these issues are caused because people don't understand or care about the proper use of anything involved with plumbing. I have always listed that repairs of the above items are the responsibility of the renter. It has led to some difficulties with renters who will always say that they were not at fault. I have lost some potential renters when they saw this in the lease agreement. Probably better to lose them before they move in than after they create a problem. When you know you are responsible to pay for a repair you would be surprised how much more care they take with the plumbing. As a homeowner for over 35 years I can say that I have had to call a plumber only once for any of these problems. Once after a meal of Chinese food we tried to put all the uneaten rice down the garbage disposal. Who knew that rice through a garbage disposal swells to a gooey mess in a drain pipe. So as a help to everyone I wanted to share how to avoid problems with each appliance.
1) Garbage disposals need to be used with small amounts of food and lots of water. Too much food and too little water is asking for a clog. To keep blades sharp run 2 cups of ice cubes through the disposal on a regular basis (weekly if you can). Dull blades don't work well. Finally there is nothing wrong with throwing out food in the trash or composting.
2) Never put any paper but toilet paper in the toilet. Unfortunately the double ply is more likely to clog a toilet. Single ply will hardly ever cause a clog. If you notice the bowl not filling normally a quick plunge with a plunger will keep the toilet form clogging. It doesn't hurt to have a plumbing snake if the problem continues.
3) Dishwashers are probably the most useless appliance in the kitchen. They should be called dish sterilizers. The drain tubes from the dishwasher to the garbage disposal are bound to clog unless you completely clean your dishes of all food. Putting dishes with food on them in the dishwasher is asking for trouble. If you have to completely clean your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher then why have one? However, I know that many renters would not rent without a dishwasher or garbage disposal.
4) Washer issues are summed up with one statement. Don't overload a washer! I know it is quicker to try and throw a week's worth of laundry into the washer in one load but it will strain the washer's motor and belts. And never try to wash rugs in a washer! Hose them off outside. Finally if the washer starts making an unusual noise don't ignore it till the washer breaks down completely. Small repairs are cheaper (sometimes just a belt issue) than replacing a motor which costs about the same as a new washer.
So there you have it. Four ways to keep the plumber away. Now you can avoid the "down and dirty" of plumbing problems.
From the American Confectioners Association:
"Eighty-one percent of parents surveyed say that they take candy from their children’s Halloween candy haul for their own enjoyment (with 26 percent admitting that they sneak treats after the children go to bed or school)."