Being a student in rented accommodation means that you’re in someone elses property, and students do not have the best reputation when it comes to taking care of a flat. Much of this is due to lack of experience, if you’ve never taken care of a home before then there are many elements that will simply pass you by. But if things do go wrong then you’re dependent on your landlord to fix them, this means long and difficult delays to take care of something that you might have been able to maintain yourself. Want some tips for taking care of a house? Read on.
There are few things as scary as realising the water in your bathroom isn’t draining, or there’s a problem with the toilet. Sometimes professional help is necessary but you may be able to sort these problems out yourself before they even happen.
Shower: Flat sharing means a lot of hair is going down your plughole, which can lead to blockages. If you’re water starts draining slowly then you should act straight away before the problem gets worse (trust us, it doesn’t get better by itself). This can be shower drain cleaners or a homemade concoction of distilled vinegar and baking soda. Both these items are cheap and easy to use. Simply pour some baking soda down your drain, followed by the distilled vinegar. Plug the drain with an old sock or rag because the mixture will foam. Leave for 20 minutes and boil your kettle. When you take out the sock, pour the boiling water down the drain. You should see an immediate improvement.
If you’re experiencing limescale on the showerhead then this life hack is invaluable, plus it’s a much easier cleaning technique for when you leave. Simply use more distilled vinegar, put it in a bag or shower cap, wrap around the shower head so it’s totally submerged and then tie it off with an elastic band. Leave over night and it’ll be clean in the morning.
Toilet: A blocked toilet is something you’ll be desperate to avoid calling your landlord over, how embarrassing! Luckily, the internet has you covered once again, The Art of Manliness has a video on how to unclog a toilet like a plumber would. The most important way you can safeguard is by getting yourself a plunger before you need one. Not even necessarily for the flat, get yourself one. You’re always going to want one wherever you live, just keep it in your room until it’s needed.
There is no shame in admitting that you don’t know how to change a lightbulb, apparently 10% of under 35’s can’t. But when you do need to change a light bulb it’s important that you do it safely or you run the risk of expensive damages to the fittings. A summary of a great how-to online can be summed up as
- Bulbs in the UK either pull out and twist or just twist. Both will turn anticlockwise.
- Turn off the electricity before trying this and leave the electrics off for a time before attempting to replace a bulb. The bulb might be hot.
- Get a ladder or a VERY sturdy boost that you know won’t break (i.e. a sofa). This is where damage can happen the most, don’t use a folding chair, bean bag, coffee table, anything that’s even vaguely unstable. Before you ascend to do this job, run through the conversation you’ll have to have with your landlord if you fall and pull out the fitting, you might change your mind about what course you were about to take.
- Check the size, shape and wattage of the replacement bulb. You can take the old bulb out first and then take a photo on your phone before shopping for a match if you’re unsure you’ll remember what you need.
External Doors and Windows
They’re your passage to the outside world and most likely you never give it a second thought but doors and windows need some upkeep, otherwise you may find yourself locked out in the cold and paying for a new set of locks and keys.
Front Door and Backdoor: Get yourself some WD40 or other lubricant from a DIY shop and, every few months, add a little to the hinges. This will keep the moving parts in better nick and they will be less likely to jam. For things like patio doors and sliding doors, bifolddoorsolutions advises that you keep the tracks clear of dirt or grit, which can find their way into the mechanisms and jam them up. Again, a spritz with your WD40 on the hardware areas every couple of months can avoid problems and save your deposit.
Locks: If you’ve got a sticky or temperamental lock somewhere in the flat then the worst thing you can do is stop using it altogether. If the landlord discovers that you’ve let the shed door or back window rust over through lack of use then you’ll be the one paying for a replacement. If there is an outdoor lock or a window that isn’t used frequently (like a garage) then try to lock and unlock it every few weeks or so to ensure that the mechanism is still healthy. The WD40 is once again helpful here, especially if you find the lock won’t turn. Squirt the WD40 into the keyhole and attempt to turn the lock. If it doesn’t work then don’t panic! Leave it for a few hours and try again. Also lubricate the door hinges in case they are stiff.
If you have a difficult time opening any of your locks then check with your other flatmates. Most lock and key problems are caused by a worn key, not the lock itself. If everyone else is able to use the same door fine then get a copy of their key and return yours to the landlord (they may cover the cost of the new key but this is not guaranteed). Though not relating to the upkeep of the lock itself we think this invaluable advice to avoid getting locked out of your student digs! If all the keys work with difficulty, check back with (you guessed it!) some WD40 and leave it for an evening. If problems persist then you should speak with your landlord. For some more incredibly manly and in-depth info about lock maintenance check out this online guide.
All of these quick and easy fixes will keep your deposit a little safer and will give you some helpful advice for upkeeping a home in the future. So, you will now hopefully know how get deposit back from landlord, whilst maintaing your home. If you’re on the prowl looking for student housing, make sure to remember these things when house hunting. Otherwise, enjoy these bad pictures of terrible houses landlords are trying to rent.
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