Plumbing Tips for College Students & Recent Grads
If you’re a college student or recent grad living on your own for the first time, you might not be prepared to deal with an unexpected plumbing issue. While most dorms and apartment buildings have maintenance staff on call, renting a house on or near campus means you’ll need some basic plumbing skills. Here are four essential plumbing tips to keep handy in the event of an emergency.
Plumbing Tip #1 Assemble a Plumbing Toolkit
The odds of making it through the entire school year without a single plumbing mishap are pretty slim, so it’s a good idea to put together a set of basic tools and supplies in preparation. You don’t need an extensive, dad-level arsenal of tools just yet. We recommend having these items in your DIY plumbing toolkit:
- Plunger: This indispensable tool is the first thing you should grab when you need to dislodge clogs from sinks, tubs, toilets, showers and floor drains.
- Gloves: It’s a smart move to use protection when dealing with yucky stuff in the bathroom.
- Wrench: Keep one of these on hand in case you have to tighten or loosen any nuts or bolts involved in your plumbing system.
- Pliers: These can be used to grab, twist or pull knobs, nuts or other plumbing hardware that’s too small or tricky to manipulate with your hands.
- Bucket: A bucket can be used to catch water from a leaky pipe while you work on it…or wait for a professional to show up and help.
Plumbing Tip #2 Know How to Unclog a Toilet
Whether you live in a dorm with shoddy plumbing or rent an old house with ancient pipes, a clogged toilet is one of the most common plumbing problems that college students face. Here’s what to do:
- DON’T try to flush the toilet again, as that will most likely cause it to overflow.
- Reach behind the toilet and twist the stop valve counter-clockwise to turn off the water, then wait a minute or two for the water level in the bowl to go down.
- Cover the hole at the bottom of the bowl with a plunger, and firmly push in and out 15 times.
- If the water level is still too high, try another 15 plunges going slightly faster and using a bit more force.
- If the clog is stubborn and won’t go away, call the maintenance team if your residence has one; if not, contact a local plumber.
Plumbing Tip #3: Increase Water Pressure
Nothing is worse than coming home after a long day, turning on a hot shower and getting nothing but a slow drip. Here’s what to do when you lose water pressure:
- Check your showerhead for limescale accumulation, which looks like a chalky, off-white crust.
- If there is limescale buildup, soak your showerhead in a solution of hot water, vinegar, and baking soda.
- Experiencing low water pressure in other rooms? The limescale has likely gotten into the pipes, so try pouring a few cups of the cleaning concoction you made down all of the drains. Note: Steer clear of store-bought drain cleaners.
- If the low water pressure still persists, call maintenance or contact a local plumber.
Plumbing Tip #4 Get Rid of Standing Water
Standing water from a slow or clogged drain isn’t just annoying, it’s a bacteria party waiting to happen. Here’s how to remedy the situation:
- Use a bucket to remove as much of the standing water as possible, then put on gloves and try to scoop out any gunk that’s blocking the drain.
- Seal the drain with a plunger and give a few vigorous pumps. If you’re dealing with a sink with two drains, use a stopper to plug the drain that’s not being plunged.
- If the plunging didn’t work, bend a wire hanger into a DIY drain snake and try fishing out the clog.
- Still having trouble? Create another hot water/vinegar/baking soda mixture, pour it down the drain, and wait 20 minutes.
- If none of the above steps have helped, it’s time to contact a professional.
Living on your own for the first time? Maplewood Plumbing can help with any plumbing issues outside your DIY-expertise. Give us a call at 314-207-2503 or fill out the contact form here for more information or to request a bid.
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