A clogged sink is a common occurrence in many households. All of us have faced this issue at least once- it could be because of food residue, hair and soap, big objects, mineral buildup, hygiene products, or even a case of pipe damage and misalignment. Whatever the reason, it is natural to feel confused and scared of how it might affect others in your apartment building.
If the sink is not repaired, it can raise concerns about health and sanitation, as standing water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Moreover, overflows and leaks can cause damage to walls and floors. Sometimes, this one issue could indicate a need for more repairs in the larger plumbing system.
Common areas and apartments need to look clean and presentable, and a clogged sink can ruin the aesthetic appeal of the space. More importantly, the excess water flow results in wastage of water which is not only bad for utility bills, but also for the environment, because we all depend on a limited number of resources.
Responsible property management is very important for the tenants to be able to trust the property manager to handle maintenance issues promptly. It is one of the ways you keep your tenants happy. Also, you are better off fulfilling any legal obligations you have toward property upkeep, and thus avoiding any penalties and fines.
How does a shared plumbing system work?
A shared plumbing system, commonly set up in an apartment building, has a network of pipes and fixtures that connect all individual units to a central system. The building is connected to a main water supply, which could be public water supply or a private borewell.
A network of pipes distributes water throughout various areas of the building, like apartments, common areas, laundry rooms, etc. Individual units may have pipes for hot and cold water supply. There are also drainage and vent pipes. These pipes are connected to different taps in sinks, showers, or washing machines.
In some systems, every individual unit has a water meter, so that every household can be billed separately as per how much water they use. Otherwise, there is a single water meter and all units equally divide the cost.
How does a clogged sink affect the plumbing system?
When a sink gets clogged, the water drains around the blockage. It leads to leaks around the joints of pipes and slowly weakens the material. Severe clogging and over flowing can cause water damage to the floor, walls and the building structure. Water damage can lead to moss, mold and weakening of structures.
Backflow of water
When there is a clog in one unit, all other units that are connected to the same pipe branch can face an issue. The waste water might overflow into other outlets, most commonly toilets. This sewage is a major health hazard for all people in the building.
Standing water gets contaminated over time, and it releases the type of gases that are found in sewers. These gases spread through any channel they find- and it is often vent pipes that go up to the roof, and then down to other apartments. So when the water tap is turned on in these apartments, it emits a foul odor.
How to deal with a clogged sink?
If you find that your sink is clogged, the first plan of action is to use a plunger. First, cover the overflow opening with a wet rag. When you force a plunger down a drain, it creates pressure waves that suck out minor obstructions. About ten or twelve rigorous plunges should do the job.
This is a primary plan of action that any tenant can use for a clogged sink. If this doesn’t work, it’s best to call in a plumber. They have special equipment that can cut through almost any accumulation, so that you don’t have to frustrate yourself any further with that mess.
Since leakages and clogging is not an uncommon issue, as a building manager, it is crucial to have a maintenance staff, or a director of service providers whom you can call in emergencies. Make sure that you include the costs of maintenance in your lease agreement, so that your tenants know what to expect in terms of fees.
How to prevent clogging?
If you are a property manager, it is crucial to have a maintenance staff for leaks, repairs, etc. so that you can contact them every time you receive a complaint. Now, let’s look at the steps you can take to avoid clogging of water outlets in the building. You can share this information with your tenants to avoid such issues in the future.
Proper waste disposal
While doing dishes, it is important to dispose scraps of food separately before putting the dish in the sink. Meat and grease on pans should be wiped off before washing. If you happen to leave some food in the sink by mistake, make sure to clear it out before it goes down the drain.
Using filters in the sink
Mesh drain catchers can be fitted in the sink. These filters will allow only something as fine as water to pass through them. Other debris will be collected in the filter, so that you can clean it out. It will stop the accumulation of debris in the pipes, which prevents clogging over time.
No harsh chemicals in the drain
Cleaning products that contain acids, alkaline content or strong oxidizers wear away pipes over time. It corrodes and weakens the pipes, which is dangerous, especially around bends and edges. It makes the pipes more vulnerable to blockages and leaks.
Regular maintenance checks
It is best to call in a plumber once a year to check the plumbing system for any blockages, leaks, or drainage issues. It will ensure that small build ups don’t escalate into major blockages. They have specialized equipment used to inspect pipes and identify areas that need repair.
It is common for most of us to feel overwhelmed, and grossed out by plumbing issues in a building. But as they say, it’s important to nip the devil in the bud! So, it’s best to do your due diligence and conduct regular maintenance checks to avoid bigger issues in the future.