How to Solve Common Apartment Problems

The amount of real-world, “adult” apartment problems I’ve had in my first grownup apartment is actually comical. To put it lightly, I’ve had more leaks, pests & general repairs in 3 years than I’ve seen in my entire 25 years of life. When the first problem happened (a leaking roof), I called my parents at 5am and bawled my eyes out. But by my most current issue (an overflowing toilet), I merely laughed on the phone with my dad & fixed it.

I’m by no means a handy-(wo)man, but this crash course in “home-rentership” has definitely taught me some valuable lessons on how to fix common problems that can only benefit me when I have a real home someday & can’t call a landlord. For any of you millennials out there renting your first big girl/boy apartment, keep reading. I can guarantee I’ve experienced & solved at least one of your apartment woes. 

Something’s Leaking

Probably the worst thing that can happen in an apartment or home is water leaking somewhere. My dad agrees with this (and he’s an engineer). The uncontrollable flow of unwanted water is 1. terrifying 2. messy and 3. not always easily fixable.

While you can’t always fully prepare for a leak of any sort, there are a few things you can do:

  • Know how to turn the water OFF. The other day, I walked into my apartment and heard running water (never a good sign considering no one was in the apartment for 9+ hours). Turns out that my toilet was leaking/overflowing and there was water all over my floor (fun). How to fix it immediately? Turn off the water. Most water supplies can be turned on and off with a valve–learn where they are & how to turn them off (“Righty tighty”). A toilet, for example, has a little knob near the floor that controls the water flow. Turn off the water to stop the immediate leak so you can clean up & figure out what the real problem is.
  • Buy a bucket & keep old towels on hand. In the event that the leak isn’t coming from an appliance (i.e. a leaky roof!!!), there’s not much you can do in the immediate present besides try to control it/clean it up. Buckets & old bath towels will help (for now). If a structural part of your apartment is leaking, it’s probably best a professional fixes it, but try to keep it as dry as possible to avoid mold & such.
  • Stay calm. It’s truly terrifying to see water rush from your ceiling/toilet/dishwasher and not know how to stop it. Take a deep breath. You can’t fix it if you’re in a tizzy.

Ants are EVERYWHERE

Oh, ants. Everyone will have at least one ant infestation during their lease. Ours happened to be all over our kitchen for about 2 weeks (yay!). If you’re having minor ant problems (like one or two here and there), those little ant traps are fine, but if you’re dealing with a major ant problem (like you accidentally left a clear wine glass on your counter and it was completely black by morning), those ant traps won’t do sh*t. Get some Raid Bug Barrier spray and spray ALL the floorboards inside and then get OUTSIDE. I’ve also heard good things about Terro Traps, but you have to actually see the live ants & that kinda skives me out.

If you’re not too keen on spraying your whole kitchen with ant poison (it’s slightly problematic), a natural way to get rid of ants is cinnamon. Apparently, ants hate cinnamon so my roommate and I would sprinkle a little on our counters & it kept them at bay for the most part. And if you’re really still having issues, you may need to get a professional to treat the outside of your apartment.

The wifi is spotty (again)

Lol @ all the hour long phone calls I’ve had with Comcast. Most of the time, you can send a “reset” signal to your router through your provider (and online aka avoiding the dreaded hour-long phone calls). If that doesn’t work, unplug the power source & wifi cable in BOTH the router and the modem and wait a minute. I find that if I unplug both of them, it seems to fix the issue.

My dryer is broken

Most dryers are able to dry a reasonable amount of laundry in one cycle. If you’re throwing in t-shirts and underwear, and it’s coming out damp still, you have a problem. First, make sure the lint tray is empty (you should always clean it out after every cycle anyways to avoid a fire hazard). If that doesn’t work, check the vent on the outside of your apartment. Something could be blocking it. For example, I found bees in my dryer last summer (yes, you read that right, BEES). I told my landlord and he told me not to worry about it (smh). The next four months, our dryer didn’t work. Turns out there was a bees nest blocking our outside dryer vent (shocker). Our landlord got rid of it and voila! Our dryer worked again. If your dryer is still not functioning correctly after checking the vent, I’d call a repair man because a piece is probably broken & you  shouldn’t be messing around with that.

Related: 10 things you should ALWAYS keep in your apartment. 

I can’t get rid of gnats

During the beginning of summer, we always get those tiny little gnats in our kitchen (pretty common issue). Make sure you’re taking out your garbage regularly & store fruit in the fridge/cabinets vs. on the counter. If you’re still having problems, in a shallow dish, mix vinegar and a few drops of dish soap. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and poke holes in it. It’s amazing how many gnats you’ll catch.

EEK, I saw a mouse!

RIP Leo (yea, we named our mouse Leo–he was so cute!) Seeing a mouse is definitely shocking. The only way to get rid of a mouse is to trap it (ugh, I know, sorry). You can get the sticky glue mats (but then you have to see the dead/near dead mouse on it) or the traditional traps (again with seeing the dead mouse thing). There are also more humane traps (like this one) where you will have a live mouse to deal with. Kind of your preference. Mice like peanut butter though, so if you’re using some kind of trap, that’s an easy way to lure them. Killing a mouse/releasing a live mouse sucks, but it’s better than it living in your apartment, right?

Smelly Kitchen Issues

How to fix the following:

  • Smelly garbage can: Take out the garbage regularly (obviously). You can also throw a dryer sheet at the bottom of the can or use scented garbage bags (I personally like these). Also, clean your actual garbage can at least every other week. I like to use Clorox Everywhere Spray to wipe down the can/lid when I take out the garbage.
  • Smelly refrigerator: Put Baking Soda in a small dish and stick it in the back of your fridge. You can also buy these made specifically for fridges.
  • Smell garbage disposal: You can get garbage disposal cleaner, or just throw some lemons/citrus fruit down it & rinse with water.
  • Smelly dishwasher: Place one cup (8 oz) of distilled white vinegar in the top rack of the dishwasher (the rest of the dishwasher should be empty). Run a cycle. Remove the vinegar and sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher. Run on a short cycle with hot water.
  • Smelly/dirty microwave: In a microwavable safe measuring cup/bowl, combine one cup white vinegar and one cup water. Put it in the microwave and place a wooden spoon in the liquid (ensures the mixture doesn’t overheat & explode). Microwave for 5 minutes. The steam will help make scrubbing off the mess easier!
  • Smelly sponge: Microwave a slightly damp sponge for 5-10 minutes. Let it cool off before removing it & rinse under cold water.

I blew a fuse

Find your circuit breaker box. All apartments have them. Look for breaker that is in the “off” position or in the middle. Put it all the way to “off” then switch to “on.” This should resolve the issue.

Clogged Drains & Other Bathroom Stuff

Common bathroom issues:

  • Clogged drains: Hey ladies with long hair. Drano works pretty well (just follow the instructions on the back) & if that doesn’t work, snake your drain with one of these guys. Also not a bad idea to get a hair catcher to put in your shower drain.
  • Grimy/moldy shower curtains and/or showers: Easy solution is clean your shower regularly and leave your shower curtain/doors open so they can dry. To prevent the problem entirely, I love Method’s Daily Shower Cleaner. Just spray it once you get out of the shower so it stays sparkly clean.
  • Dirty toilets: Do a deep clean of your toilet once a week. But to keep it smelling/looking clean, these little gel patches are an easy way to keep your toilet smelling fresh.

Phew, that was a long post haha Hopefully I’ve helped you solve at least one of your apartment issues. Any more cleaning/apartment tips? Leave me a comment below. &.

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