Is it a Clog? A Leak? No, It’s a Plumbing Emergency!

Updated: Dec 24, 2020

If you experience a plumbing emergency in your apartment, the first thing to do is-Not Panic! With wear and tear, and perhaps a few plumbing don’ts (like pouring grease down the sink), it is common to have a clog or a leak appear from time to time.

When issues including overflows, blockages, or burst pipes cause flooding or bad odors, it disrupts your lifestyle. Leaks and floods within the apartment will also damage your belongings. Knowing which steps to take when facing an apartment plumbing emergency can help you save on the costs and repairs. We look at what is considered a plumbing emergency, who to call, and your responsibilities as a tenant.

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What is a Plumbing Emergency?



Plumbing emergencies are situations that are out of your control and need the expertise of a professional plumber. A burst pipe can cause water to accumulate in your living room while leaks from the ceiling create moisture damage. Disruptive plumbing issues should always have a professional plumber come out to fix the problem.

If you experience water seeping into your apartment, investigate where it’s coming from. If it is from a fixture in your apartment, the first step is to turn the water off. If you cannot find the water supply valve, call your landlord to help you. Turning the water off to your home will protect against severe damage.



Before a plumbing disaster strikes, being prepared can go a long way to saving your apartment and valuables. Basic tools such as a plunger can relieve minor clogs in the kitchen or the shower sink. You can also ask your landlord for an approved list of plumbers you can contact should a major problem occur.

Got a Leak? We'll take a Peak!

What are Common Plumbing Problems in an Apartment?

Every apartment will experience common plumbing problems such as a leaking tap, a clogged toilet, or a sink with slow drainage. Most of these issues you can resolve with simple tools and techniques. The replacement of a washer on the tap generally resolves a leak while a plunger helps eliminate blockages. The best way to avoid a plumbing disaster is to maintain your fixtures and systems through maintenance and good practice.

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How to Fix Common Plumbing Issues in an Apartment?


Clogged toilets are easily resolved by using a good old plunger. If this does not resolve the problem, call your landlord. Clogged sinks can occur at any time. Bits of food flushed down the kitchen sink or hair and soap scum from the bathroom can clog pipes. A plunger, hot soapy water, and a mild drain cleaner are simple ways to remove blockages.

For leaking taps, check the washer and handles. In most cases, the handles can be tightened, and the washer replaced to stop the leak. If it persists, speak to your landlord about having it checked by a professional plumber.

Drain odors are common in apartments, especially ground floor units. Foul smells are caused by clogs. Try to plunge the drain and then pour hot soapy water down the pipes. You can also use a mild drain cleaner to eliminate odors.


How to Prevent Plumbing Problems in Your Apartment?


The good news is you can stop a plumbing crisis in its tracks with a few simple maintenance tips:

Tips for Plumbing Problems

Monthly Cleans

Causes for drain clogs include pouring grease down the plughole, and the buildup of hair and debris in plugs and pipes. You can prevent blockages and overflows by flushing pipes with hot soapy water to remove grease and debris at least once a month. A golden plumbing rule is to never pour grease or oil down the drain. It causes food particles and dirt to stick to the inside of the pipes and then you’re left with a clog! Use a mild pipe cleaner to reduce clogs caused by gunk. Get rid of grease by tossing the excess in newspaper and into the garbage.

Fast Repairs

If you notice that your tap is constantly leaking or your drain clogged despite your best efforts, speak to your landlord. He or she will get an approved plumber to come out for an inspection and repairs before it becomes an emergency.


Flush the Toilet Regularly

Avoid tossing large amounts of toilet paper down the loo. Toilets can get backed up if not regularly flushed and dirt or objects poured down the bowl. Keep the toilet clean and clear of dirt.


How to Manage an Overflowing Toilet?

The Dreaded Overflowing Toilet

When you flush your toilet and you stare at the rising water level, a sense of dread might come over you. The best thing to do, don’t freeze! Shut the water flow to the toilet. This stops the bowl from overflowing and flooding the bathroom. You can stop water from filling the bowl by opening the lid of the tank and pressing the flapper valve down.

What Do You Do If Your Apartment Has No Hot Water?

What would you do if you did not have hot water?

There is nothing worse than after a long, hard day, to climb into an ice-cold shower! If you have no hot water in your apartment contact your landlord. It may be a simple fix. They will have a dedicated plumber come out to determine the cause. The reasons for a lack of hot water include age and a broken thermostat. Water heaters including gas and electric are best inspected by a licensed plumber.


Are Tenants Responsible for Plumbing Issues?

The responsibility of plumbing maintenance lies on the tenant. It is important to adhere to any requirements as determined by your landlord. Basic plumbing care includes avoidance of grease down the sink, cleaning drains with warm soapy water, and reporting persistent problems including clogs and leaks.

If you experience a plumbing emergency, it is best to call your landlord. They have a list of approved plumbers who provide fair rates for services.

It is up to you as the tenant to keep an eye out for any sudden issues or changes in plumbing operations. If your regular plunger can’t remove a clog, or a soapy flush can’t rectify the problem, contact your landlord.


How Does Plumbing Work in My Apartment?

A basic understanding of how plumbing works in your apartment can help you spot problems quickly. To avoid costly plumbing repairs, understand how the pressure system works, where the drainage goes, and where the major plumbing connections are positioned in your apartment.



The plumbing system in an apartment will have separate pipes for the supply of freshwater and the removal of waste. All wastewater moves downwards towards the drains. This means that ground floor apartments will be first to notice drainage problems.

Water shut off valves are located in specific areas of the apartment and for the building as a whole. If you have a plumbing problem such as a burst water pipe, your landlord can turn-off the valve for the area of apartments affected by the damage rather than the whole complex.

When is the Right Time to Call My Landlord for a Plumbing Issue?

When Should You Call?

Calling your landlord in the middle of the night for a minor leak is certainly not a good idea! The best time to call your landlord or property manager is when you experience an emergency. These after-hours calls are necessary if you have a burst pipe, a flood inside your apartment, or moisture dripping down your walls, and across your ceiling. Notify your landlord of any instance that is beyond your control and requires a professional for repairs and management. Your landlord will have a licensed plumber on hand for after-hours services.

Landlords want your experience as a tenant to be a positive one. If you are unsure as to whether your plumbing is cause for concern, communicate with them. Send an email or phone them to resolve the problem.

What is the Difference Between Plumbing Maintenance and Repairs?

Plumbing maintenance includes scheduled cleans, checks, and restorations. Maintenance is performed to prevent problems from developing in the first place. Repairs are needed when a plumbing problem causes a disruption to normal operations or causes a complete breakdown.

A plumber will perform repairs, but tenants can complete general maintenance. This includes cleaning plumbing appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, and cleaning sinks, basins, and plugs. The correct use of cleaning agents can prevent blockages, drain odors, and plumbing damages.


Is the Landlord Responsible for a Toilet Blockage?

It depends on the cause of the clog. This is the reason plumbing maintenance is so important. If you fail to keep your plumbing systems reasonably clean and clear, then your landlord could request that you cover the plumbing costs.

If you have caused the damage, your landlord can charge you for the cost. Be sure to maintain plumbing care to keep the system operating smoothly.

Can I Contact a Plumber and then Charge the Landlord?

No, you cannot call on a private plumber and then have the landlord cover the costs. Landlords have their own plumbing services assigned to apartments and complexes and often negotiate rates for general repairs and callouts.

If you have a plumbing emergency and cannot get hold of the landlord, you will need to contact a plumber to address the issue. Always try to contact your landlord before calling your own plumber.

Can a Plumber Repair an HVAC?

Elaborate HVAC System

A problematic HVAC is best managed by a heating and ventilation specialist. While many plumbers can install air conditioners and maintain the pipes and ducts of HVAC systems, it is best left to the ventilation, heating, and cooling specialists.

When the HVAC causes issues, call your landlord. An experienced HVAC professional will be consulted to perform scheduled checks and repairs if necessary. Maintenance delivered by apartment management will go a long way to keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.

The Washing Machine Stopped Working, Who Do I Call?

Does your complex have hook-ups or a w/d connection?

Plumbers are contacted for maintenance and repairs of pipes, systems, drains, and hot water heaters. Apart from unclogging drains or fixing leaks, plumbers also repair appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and related plumbing systems.

Where appliances such as a washing machine start leaking, it can cause major problems inside the apartment. You can speak to your landlord about a faulty plumbing appliance only if the appliance is fitted and was there when you moved in. These appliances will become part of routine plumbing maintenance delivered for apartments.

If it is your own machine, you are responsible for its maintenance and repairs. You can contact the landlord for recommended licensed plumbers offering fair rates. However, you cannot expect the landlord to cover the costs of your plumbing appliances.

Keeping Your Apartment Plumbing Problem-Free!

A Problem Free Philosophy!

Apartment plumbing is connected across multiple dwellings and each with its own pressure system. When damage arises, you need an expert on your side as apartment plumbing can be quite complicated.

Avoid attempting DIY fixes that are beyond the basic washer replacement for a tap or plunger for a drain or sink. Plumbing matters should be reported to the landlord especially if it persists. This can prevent a plumbing emergency in your apartment.

If a plumbing issue from a neighbor is causing moisture damage in your unit, contact your landlord immediately. Landlords will investigate the issue and have a professional plumber determine the cause of the problem.

Apartment plumbing emergencies can happen because of wear and tear. When you take care of your apartment’s water systems and rely on the maintenance delivered by your trusted landlord, many issues are easily prevented and resolved.

Signs of a plumbing disaster including overflows, constant clogs, and flooding will require an emergency plumber. In such instances, never hesitate to call your landlord. Getting the issue tended to by a licensed plumber will prevent devastating damages to your apartment and your valuables.



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