When you're about to rent a house, you're often so excited to move in that you forget to ask your landlord some important questions about the house's general structure and care requirements. One aspect of the house you should not overlook in this manner is the plumbing. If you aren't careful to ask your landlord some questions about the plumbing, you might find yourself in the midst of a plumbing "accident" in the middle of the night or end up doing something that's not so good for the system. So, before you take possession of your newly-rented home, make sure you ask your landlord these three plumbing-related questions.
Is the house hooked up to the sewer or a septic tank?
If you're on a well-populated city of suburb, chances are good that the home is hooked up to a public sewer. However, in more rural areas, septic systems are pretty common. It's worth asking this question because if a home is hooked up to a septic tank, you will have to:
- Avoid using excessive amounts of water at once (for example, 4 people showering, followed by 6 loads of laundry), so you don't overflow the tank.
- Not wash a lot of harsh cleaners like bleach or ammonia down the drain.
- Keep an eye out for flooding and strong odors in the backyard; these are signs the tank needs repair or pumping.
Where is the main water shutoff valve?
If you ever have a plumbing emergency, such as a pipe bursting, it will be very helpful if you know where the main water shutoff valve is and can stop the flow of water. Ask the landlord to show you where the valve is, so you are not struggling to locate it in an emergency. Also, check to make sure the valve can be turned easily. Sometimes, if a valve sits for years, it may become hard to turn. If this is the case, ask your landlord to lubricate it so that if there is an emergency, you know you can operate it properly.
If a drain clogs, what does the landlord prefer you do?
Some landlords won't mind you using a plunger or even some drain cleaner on your own if a drain clogs. Others will want to know about the problem and have their maintenance crew tackle it, rather than risk you doing it incorrectly and causing more damage. Specifically ask whether it is okay to use a drain cleaner in the apartment. These cleaners can weaken some types of pipes, so some landlords may specifically request that you don't use them.