Sounds idyllic, right? Enter: the smell of towels being too wet…or so I thought before seeing my entire apartment floor submerged in floodwater and smelly sewage.
Multiple thoughts and feelings – some of which I cannot share politely here – struck me: what the hell happened? what should i do? Who is in charge of cleaning up this mess?
It turned out that an overnight storm and sewage backup catalyzed the flooding, destroying some of my belongings and forcing me to start looking for a second apartment. The experience was mentally and financially exhausting.
When something goes wrong in your home, “it’s never fun, and it can be very intimidating and stressful,” said Daniel Wroclawski, senior editor at Consumer Reports, a nonprofit that helps consumers evaluate goods and services.
Wroclawski had his own flood nightmare in his first and current home.
“I came home a weekend after I left and my kitchen was flooded, no kidding, and lost tens of thousands of dollars,” he added. “My wife was about six or seven months pregnant. »
Flooding is just one of the most common problems in homes.
Wroclawski says that no matter what goes wrong, if you’re a tenant and there’s a problem with something your landlord is responsible for, such as the unit itself or the equipment they provide, your first call should usually be the maintenance guy or the owner. If you’re a homeowner and can’t fix the problem yourself, call a professional repairman for help, for example, a plumber if your toilet isn’t working properly, or an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) tech if you need an air conditioner Personnel furnace. repair.
Below, experts suggest how to calmly manage common household headaches, whether you rent or own your own home.
“If a pipe bursts or leaks, the first thing to do is turn off the water,” Wroclavsky said. “With your house, it is usually accessible. But if you are a tenant, this may not be the case, in which case you should contact your landlord or concierge as soon as possible. »
If you’re in charge of fixing the problem, call a plumber or emergency response plumber (if necessary and you can afford it), Wroclawski says.
The longer the standing water, the greater the damage.
“Stagnant water is no joke. It can lead to mold and possible health problems,” Wroclawski said. “If they don’t respond within a few hours, you want to start talking to other people. »
If you have to do things yourself, remove as much excess water as possible. You can buy a water pump from a home improvement store and pump it into the sink or tub, then dry everything off – use a fan and open windows to speed up the process.
If your garbage disposal system isn’t working, unplug it before you find the culprit, says Wroclawski. He suggests that if there are no obvious objects blocking you, you can try cleaning the tablet for waste disposal. Some assignments also have a reset button.
If you find your refrigerator isn’t as warm as it should be, check the condenser coil on the back of the refrigerator, says Wroclawski.
Condenser coils can get dirty, so remove the refrigerator from the wall every six months to vacuum the coils, Wroclawski said. This buildup can make your refrigerator less efficient and have to work harder, which can lead to machine failure if not addressed soon.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
If your smoke or carbon monoxide detector isn’t working or beeping too much, make sure it’s not expired, says Wroclawski. He added that smoke detectors typically need to be replaced every eight to ten years, and carbon monoxide detectors every five years.
If your detector is battery powered, be sure to replace the battery. If you rent out your home, any replacements may need to be done by a repairman.
Heating, cooling and ventilation systems
All heating and cooling systems require routine maintenance at least once a year, said David Heiman, senior director of training at The Refrigeration School, Inc. in Phoenix.
In condos and residences, “most residents experiencing issues will first notice insufficient cooling or heating,” Heyman said in the email. “Residents may also notice prolonged unit operation and/or changes in indoor temperature. »
Experts also “commonly see problems caused by dirty air filters, dirty or clogged condenser coils, refrigerant leaks, clogged condensate lines, and failures of electrical components such as (for example) motors, capacitors, relays and contractors. cause problems,” Heiman added.
Dirty filters can be replaced by you, or if you rent them, by a repairman or your landlord. Professionals may need to address some of the more complex issues.
If you’re not getting hot water, your water heater may have a faulty part or need a complete replacement, Wroclawski said. If you are in the apartment, please call the landlord or the concierge. If you live in a house, call a plumber.
“The other thing to keep in mind is that if it’s a gas water heater, the indicator light may go out, in which case you have a real gas leak problem. It’s very dangerous,” Wroclaw Ski said. If you see the lights go out, be sure to leave your home and call the fire department or gas company – their staff will check for gas leaks.
If you have little or no experience with home repairs, you may be wondering what is the right price for this type of service.
For some of these issues, “time is of the essence, and in this case you might want to bite the bullet and pay what they’re charging you,” Wroclavsky said. “But if you have the time, it’s definitely worth shopping around (and) getting estimates from multiple suppliers.»