A clogged drain is one of the most common problems that you’ll encounter in your South Florida rental property. It may seem insignificant, but it can make your tenant’s life inconvenient. The good news is that it can be resolved rather easily.
But before we dive into how to fix a clogged shower drain, let’s look at who is responsible for repairing it in the first place.
When is the landlord responsible for a clogged drain?
Landlords are obligated to provide their tenants with a rental property that is livable. This is also referred to as the “implied warranty of habitability”. In general, it means that the property must meet the basic standards of health and safety.
Aside from the overall cleanliness of the property, landlords must maintain the condition of plumbing systems and fixtures. If there are issues that are not caused by negligence, the landlord should cover the cost of repairs. The landlord may also be held liable if they failed to inspect the plumbing systems before renting out the property.
When is the tenant responsible for a clogged drain?
The moment the tenant signs the tenancy agreement, they agree to certain responsibilities. This includes performing regular maintenance and upkeep, such as mowing the lawn, throwing out the trash, and so on.
If the tenant negligently causes damage to the property, it’s their responsibility to cover the cost of repairs. An example of negligence is when the shower drain gets clogged after the tenant shoves trash down the drain. In that situation, the tenant should be responsible for repairs.
What if the lease doesn’t state who’s responsible?
As a rule of thumb, if the issue is caused by the tenant’s carelessness, they should be responsible for repairs. On the other hand, if the issue involves wear and tear (e.g. sediment build-up), poor pipe installation, or anything else other than the tenant’s negligence, the landlord should be liable.
What are the common causes of a clogged shower drain?
Clogged shower drains are one of the most common plumbing issues that landlords face. While clogs can be unclogged relatively easily, sometimes, the situation can be so serious that it requires a professional plumber. Hence, if you want to save money, it’s important to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are the common culprits of a clogged shower drain:
Human hair contributes to shower drain clogs because they can combine with soap and grease. Strands of hair can also “knot up” with other stringy items such as dental floss. They then stick to the walls of the pipe, preventing water from flowing normally.
#2 Soap scum
Soap scum is the chalky residue that accumulates around showers, sinks, and bathtubs. When soap scum accumulates inside the drain, the pipe’s diameter slowly becomes smaller and smaller. As a result, there will be obstructed drainage.
You should tell your tenants to never throw shampoo caps, razor coverings, etc. into the shower drain. When small items are shoved down the drain, they will get stuck, causing the shower to get clogged.
#4 Hard water
Over time, minerals from hard water will accumulate within your shower drain pipe. If left uncleaned, these micro-solids can clog your drain.
What’s the best way to unclog a clogged shower drain?
As a landlord, you likely want to save as much as possible. Thankfully, you can unclog the shower drain without employing a plumber. In most cases, shower drain clogs are relatively easy to resolve, involving simple tools and some elbow grease.
Here’s how you can unclog a clogged shower drain in your rental property:
#1 Pour boiling water down the drain
If soap scum is the cause of the clog, you can clear the blockage using boiling water. You may want to use a funnel to control the flow of the water. However, if your bathroom has fancy fixtures, you may want to skip this suggestion.
#2 Use a plunger
If the cause of the clog isn’t deep in the drain, plunging may solve your problem. Spread petroleum jelly around the suction pad, and then turn on the shower so that the plunger is submerged. Plunge as hard as you can — if this doesn’t work, move on to the next method.
#3 Pour baking soda down the drain
Don’t want to clear the clog with chemicals? Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. You’ll notice that it will begin to bubble up. At this point, you can pour a cup of vinegar to melt any grease that has accumulated in the pipes. Finally, pour boiling water down the drain to get rid of the residue.
#4 Use a hook
If you can’t reach the clog with your fingers, bend a piece of wire into the shape of a hook. Slowly lower it into the drain (don’t drop it!) until it tugs on whatever is causing the clog. Fish the foreign object out.
#5 Use a toilet jack
A toilet jack or a “plumber’s snake” is one of the most effective ways of clearing a shower drain clog. If you don’t own one, you can buy it from any hardware store. Simply push the “snake” down the drain until you hit the clog. Turn the handle and pull the “snake” back up. It should get rid of the clog completely.
#6 Use chemicals
Hardware stores sell chemical cleaners that can unclog drains. Don’t forget to wear goggles and gloves when pouring them down the drain, as they can cause serious chemical burns. But be careful — chemicals can damage your pipes, especially if they’re made of plastic. Treat this method as your last resort!
What should you do when all else fails?
When all else fails, hire a plumber. But before that, be sure to consult a property management company such as Luxury Property Care. Our property managers have a network of professional plumbers that can complete the job for less than the usual cost. We’ll provide you with estimates over the phone so that you can choose the contractor that best suits your budget.