Apartment Plumbing Problems: 4 Issues and How to Fix Them

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 26, 2024

Whether you call a high-rise home or live in an older courtyard building, you eventually have to deal with faulty apartment plumbing. From leaky fixtures to clogged drains, these problems need attention right away.

When water starts to flood across floors, saturate walls and soak your belongings, do you wait on management for help or take care of it by yourself?

As Chicago’s leading water damage restoration company, we handle plumbing repairs in rental properties all across the city. To help you better understand the issues, we’ve developed this guide including four DIY fixes for common apartment plumbing problems.

How Does Apartment Plumbing Work?

Imagine the 400 gallons of water used by an average family of four every day. Multiply that by the number of units in your building. The math gives you an idea of how hard plumbing works in apartment settings.

Rental property plumbing performs like single-family home systems supplying fresh water and diverting waste water. However, pipes, fittings and fixtures have to hold up to heavy use and fluctuating pressure generated from multiple apartments. When something goes wrong, it often affects neighboring units.

4 Common Apartment Plumbing Problems and DIY Fixes

plumbing problems

Plumbing issues in apartments need to be taken care of immediately. You want to minimize water damage to your unit and be a good neighbor too. These are the four most common plumbing issues that occur in rental properties.

1. The Dreaded Clogged Toilet

As careful as you are, paper and debris accumulate and eventually clog the toilet. The system is designed to handle dissolvable waste, but time and use can back things up. Take control with these techniques.

  • Use a plunger with a bell flange that seals around the bottom of the bowl.
  • Work firmly but gently at first to push air from the flange into the clogged pipe.
  • Continue with steady, strong action until the clog is loosened, and then flush several times to clear.

Power Tip: If you can’t fix the clog and the toilet floods your apartment, call in professionals who know how to safely address sewage spills and cleanup.

2. Drains That Don’t Drain

Clogged drains seem like small apartment plumbing problems until standing water makes sinks and tubs impossible to use. You have two options for clearing out built-up grease, soap scum and hair.

  • Break up the clog with a sink plunger designed to work on kitchen and bath drains.
  • Use a liquid drain cleaner, carefully follow the product’s directions, and give it time to work.

Power Tip: Once you’re done, run cold water through the drain for several minutes to make sure the clog is washed away, and then install a drain screen to help it stay clear.

3. Annoying Faucet Leaks

Small drips add up to big water bills over time. That leakage can seep behind walls and into floors causing expensive damage. Fix drips like a pro with these tips.

  • Determine where the leak is occurring, and then turn off the water supply under the sink.
  • Stop drips from a faucet’s worn-out aerator by unscrewing it and replacing it with a new piece.
  • Fix base leaks by removing the spout assembly and replacing its O-ring.
  • Disassemble the faucet so that you can locate and replace worn-out washers and cartridges.

Power Tip: Before you start faucet repairs, line the sink with a rag to catch any dropped hardware or replacement parts that might disappear down the drain.

4. Frozen Pipes Under the Sink

This apartment plumbing issue often results in cracked or burst pipes that need professional attention. Still, frozen pipes have to be thawed out, so follow these steps.

  • Turn on several sink faucets in the apartment so that you’ll know when you’re making progress.
  • Use a hair dryer set on low heat and low power to slowly thaw out pipes.
  • Wrap frozen pipes in rags soaked in warm water, and change them out every half hour.

Power Tip: Head off this wintertime headache with smart DIY prevention and insulation techniques.

Who’s Responsible for Apartment Plumbing?

Your lease agreement should detail your landlord’s responsibility for required repairs. If you have a dispute about who should fix a problem, the Illinois Residential Tenants’ Right to Repair Act spells out your options. It’s always a good idea to carry renters’ insurance just in case.

Most common plumbing fixes are simple DIY jobs, but always let your building manager know when you take care of repairs. This gives him the heads-up to adjust maintenance schedules and address potential problems.

Help With the Big Jobs
water damag restoration team

If you’ve recently dealt with plumbing repairs in your apartment or followed up with services from a water damage restoration company, share your experiences through our Comments Section. By exchanging solid tips and good information, we can all make things easier for each other.

When you need help with plumbing repair and cleanup, count on us as one of the most trusted water damage contractors in Chicago and the suburbs. ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba stands ready to answer your call 24/7.