As any property owner who has dealt with a clogged sewer line and backup can and will tell you, it’s one of the worst things you can face as a landlord. The resulting damage, cleanup, and repairs can run in the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Worst of all, unless you have specialized coverage, your insurance policy may not cover these damages.
It’s in your best interest to prevent sewer line issues. By putting the work in today to communicate with your renter, find a trustworthy plumber in Chicago, and care for your property’s drains and sewer line, you can protect your rental property from potential disaster.
Build a productive relationship with your tenants
Unlike the drains and pipes in your own home, those in your rental property are out-of-sight, out-of-mind. On top of that, you don’t really have much control over how a tenant treats those drains on a day-to-day basis. However, that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. We recommend that you take a productive, collaborative approach with your tenant. After all, protecting the drains—and preventing a sewer line backup—is in their best interests, as well.
- Talk to your renter: For many renters, the issue is ignorance, not malice. Many people put grease, eggshells, uncooked rice, and coffee grounds—all common causes of clogs—down the drain because they just don’t know there are consequences to doing so. The same thing goes for flushing non-organic waste down the toilet. Just let your renter know what’s at stake is a major step toward better protecting your sewer line.
- Provide them with an action plan: What should your renter do if they have a clogged toilet or kitchen sink? If you don’t want them pouring drain cleaning products down the drains, what should they do instead? Let them know about the warning signs of a sewer line clog so that they can take immediate action to shut off the water and call you.
- Make sure they have insurance: Your insurance policy covers the property and the stuff that belongs to you inside of it. But, without renter’s insurance, their furniture, belongings, and more could be at risk if something was to go wrong. Even outside the context of drain and sewer line issues, encourage your renters to get insured. In some states, it may even be required.
As a final note, set up a clear line of communication between yourself and your renter. If your tenant notices a sewer line leak in the front yard after returning from a late-night walk, can they call you, or do they need to wait until morning? Set the ground rules for this ahead of time, and you’ll be able to respond much faster to issues inside the property and avoid any awkward situations.
Schedule an annual sewer line inspection
If you’re serious about protecting your drains and avoiding sewer line issues, make a habit of having a plumbing professional out to your property once-per-year for a sewer line camera inspection. Many local plumbers offer this service. The plumber will feed an endoscopic camera at the end of a snake tool into the line, viewing its progress on a video screen. They’ll be looking for obvious signs of buildup and clogs forming within the line, but also cracks or intruding tree roots. Even if you get a clean bill of health for your sewer line at the end, this service is still well-worth the upfront cost in terms of the peace of mind you get.
Of course, in the event that the inspection does find something, take immediate action to get it fixed. When it comes to drain and sewer line issues, procrastination is the enemy. It’s better to deal with it right there than to roll the dice by waiting a few months.
At the first sign of trouble, call in a professional
Speaking of procrastination, don’t hesitate if your renter calls you about a plumbing problem, either. Think about it this way: waiting accomplishes nothing. You’re still going to have to deal with the problem. The only thing you’ll do by sitting on your renter’s concerns is to allow the plumbing problem to potentially get worse and frustrate your renter. It’s just not worth it, especially considering that many local plumbers offer free or inexpensive plumbing inspections.
A sewer line backup is every property owner’s nightmare. But, by being proactive, establishing good communication with your renter, and reacting quickly at the first signs of trouble, you can protect your investment. To learn even more about sewer line and septic system issues—as well as what a sewer line backup could cost you in damage and repairs—take a look at this infographic from King Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, a home services company right here in town.
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