Whether you’re an apartment renter, homeowner, or even living with family, there are a few basic maintenance tricks that everyone should know.
- Unclog hair in seconds
No one wants to stand in a tub with slow-draining water or use a sink that won’t drain. Enter Zip It, your new secret weapon. For under $3, this handy single-use tool is more convenient than putting in a maintenance request and is available at Home Depot, Amazon, and other retailers. Simply push it down all the way, pull up, and throw away!
- Reset a circuit breaker
If your residence was built after 1960, chances are there’s a magical black box (electrical panel) that supplies power to appliances, lighting, and outlets. When you overload a circuit (say, plug in a hair dryer and straightener at the same time), the designated breaker “trips” and shuts off power to that section.
Open the panel cover, look for one switch that is flipped off (usually different direction than the rest), and switch it back on. When in doubt, try switching each one on and off in turn until power is restored. If you don’t know the location of your electrical panel, be sure to ask your landlord.
- Shut off water in an emergency
A pipe bursts in the middle of the night or you find a leak in your kitchen coming from under the sink; what do you do? Waiting for a plumber or maintenance tech can leave your personal items in danger, so shut off the water supply quickly to minimize damage. If you’re in an apartment or the leak is limited to one area, shut off the water supply at the source.
Locate the oval knob and turn until water shuts off. If there’s major leaking or a pipe burst, find the main water supply (usually in basement or crawl space) where the water comes in from the street line. The shut off valve will either look like a spigot knob or a lever. Just make sure to restore water once the repair has been done!
- Change the AC filter
Did you know replacing your AC filter monthly or quarterly improves the HVAC system function and cuts down energy bills? Locate your filter by looking behind the main cooling vent near the thermostat or in a slot in the furnace. Make sure the unit is off before you unscrew or remove the filter. Make sure your replacement is the same size/type (or better yet, take the old filter with you to the store).
Slide your new filter into place, making sure to use the arrow on the filter for guidance. Set a reminder on your phone’s calendar to replace regularly according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Reset the garbage disposal
Garbage disposals also have their own automatic shut off function if it is clogged, runs for a long time, overheats, or breaks. If you flip the switch and do not hear anything, a reset may be needed. Make sure the disposal is set to “off” and locate the small red button on the disposal box under the sink. If the button pops right back out when pushed, wait 10 minutes and try again. If it stays in, turn the cold water back on in the sink and turn your switch to the “on” position.
You can also try carefully removing any debris while the switch is set to the “off” position. If the disposal still doesn’t run, call your maintenance team or consider replacement.
Easy, quick repairs that can zap frustrations in minutes so you can get back to your life. What are your easy maintenance tips?