DIY: Fix-It Tips for the First-time Renter

  |     |   Apartment Living, Money Matters

If it's your first time dealing with NYC rental apartments, you're going to find that, just like anywhere else, little things come up now and then that need taking care of. Newer NY apartments are likely to have fewer issues, but some buildings are old (and beautiful!) and need a little extra TLC.

Then there are problems that come up no matter when the unit was built – the point is that you have to decide on a case-by-case basis how to go about solving the different problems. Calling a handyman every time can get expensive, so it's good to know which things you can go about fixing yourself. Check out these DIY fix-it tips that can help you out when you're in a pinch!

Clogged Sink or Toilet

Sinks and toilets can easily get clogged, especially in buildings where the plumbing is a little older. You don't need to call a plumber unless it's a recurring problem that keeps getting worse. For toilets, first try using a plunger to pull the clogged material from the pipes. Use force to create suction, and flush the toilet again to see if it worked. For sinks or bathtub drains, avoid using store-bought drain cleaners as they can damage old pipes. It's often best to start by submitting a maintenance request or speak to your landlord or property manager to see if they can resolve the issue before calling the plumber directly. Always use a drain stopper to stop excess debris from getting caught in the pipes.

Lock Is Stuck

Locks can get stuck and make it difficult to pull out your key. This is easy to fix with a can of WD-40. Use the applicator straw, and spray the inside of the keyhole with a few squirts of the lubricant. Let it sit for a few minutes to break up the dirt and dust inside the lock. Then, insert your key into the lock and jiggle it – it should move much more freely now.

Too Much Ice in Freezer

Freezers sometimes build up too much ice on the inside. There are a few reasons this could happen. First of all, try moving the fridge a little farther away from the wall so that there is more room for the air to circulate. You can also try cleaning the freezer drain. First, unplug the unit from the wall to let the buildup of ice melt off. Wipe it up with towels, and then remove the freezer covers so you can see the drain. Pour hot water down the drain hole until you can see water dripping into the drain pan below the fridge.

Too Much Heat

Many NYC apartments use radiators as a source of heat. If yours is making the apartment too hot, you can adjust the amount of heat being released by turning the handle on the radiator to close the flow. Be careful because the unit might be hot to the touch. If this doesn't work, you can contact your landlord to see if other tenants have the same issue and ask him to lower the heat in the building. And, if all else fails, you can always crack a window and let a little chilly winter air inside!

Window Leaks Cold Air

If you have the opposite problem and your apartment is too cold because of a drafty window, this is easy to fix. You can use cheap weatherstrips that seal the crack between your window and the window frame. This video explains how. Window film can also be a great method of sealing out drafts – it's like a saran wrap that you apply to the actual window in order to create an extra layer of insulation. You can find both items at any nearby hardware store.

It's fun to try to tackle a project yourself before calling a handyman – but if you're dealing with a serious issue in one of our buildings, be sure to use the Maintenance Request link on the homepage of our website to report the problem so we can address it as quickly as possible.

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