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Thread: Any Great Ideas For a Rental With Costant Clogged Drain

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    DIY Member drizler's Avatar
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    Default Any Great Ideas For a Rental With Costant Clogged Drain

    I have this 1984 mobile home (lets be honest here TRAILER) that I now rent out. I have owned this since it was new so I can safely say nothing has been altered or stranger than you would otherwise find in a trailer. Anyways, I have this tenant who cooks with oodles of grease. I mean gallons of the stuff so its all over her dishes ect. Long story short she manages to plug the drain a lot. I have had it roto rooted at least once a year for the past few and enjoyed some success using one of those rubber inflatable pressure cuffs and a short piece of hose screwed onto the faucet. I cut the pipe 1 1/2 " ABS and replaced a section with rubber so I can just shove in the cuff without the problems created by the vent. Trailer plumbing , how I hate it, arrrrghhhh.
    With the latest clog she got it so plugged that the cuff wouldn't stay put with me shoving down on it and a towel shoving down. Tomorrow I am going to go buy the large size that will just barely fit down the 1,5" drain. I hadn't bought one before since I couldn't get it in the cleanout but that isn't a problem now as it's a straight shot into the pipe. Assuming this will finally blow it out as it should what in the world can I do to keep this woman from plugging this drain all the time? I should mention it always is beyond the reach of my 50' snake and doesn't affect any of the other drains so it is way at the end of that run. I lived in that place for over 10 years with no issues like that. She swears she doesn't dump any grease in there yet every time I work on it the grey white globs just bubble back out. What a royal PITA.

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    Engineer Furd's Avatar
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    What you call a "cuff" is what most people call a bladder. Unfortunately what it does is swell up in side the pipe and then simply jet a hole through the clog rather than actually removing the clog. They make an inexpensive tool that screws on the end of your garden hose like the bladder but it has swirling jets and a small spinning blade to cut through the clog. Harbor Freight has them for about 6-8 bucks and this might work better in your situation than just the bladder although you may need to use the bladder first to punch a hole through the clog.

    To alleviate the grease problem it would probably help to flush the line on a regular basis with very hot (140 degree or so) water, several gallons at a time, perhaps once a week depending on how much grease gets poured down the drain. An enzyme drain treatment once or twice a month would probably also help. I think the one most recommended here is called Bio-Clean.

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    DIY Member drizler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Furd View Post
    What you call a "cuff" is what most people call a bladder. Unfortunately what it does is swell up in side the pipe and then simply jet a hole through the clog rather than actually removing the clog. They make an inexpensive tool that screws on the end of your garden hose like the bladder but it has swirling jets and a small spinning blade to cut through the clog. Harbor Freight has them for about 6-8 bucks and this might work better in your situation than just the bladder although you may need to use the bladder first to punch a hole through the clog.

    To alleviate the grease problem it would probably help to flush the line on a regular basis with very hot (140 degree or so) water, several gallons at a time, perhaps once a week depending on how much grease gets poured down the drain. An enzyme drain treatment once or twice a month would probably also help. I think the one most recommended here is called Bio-Clean.

    Thanks for the response. I like the looks of that little clot buster on HF. Looking at it though I bet it won't make the radius below the sink where it heads down the hall. Remember, this is a good old TRAILER and a clean out is just not in the picture. Just another reason not to own one of the things. I once got the garden hose stuck down there with one of those small bladders on it and had a hell of a time getting it out. I just now laid my mits on a 1.5 - 3" bladder that may be will stay in place well enough to stay put if I lay on top of it. If I can get it running somewhat I have some of that super black crap left from a prior adventure over there. That will finish it off if I can get it down there and I will try some of that Bio clean after that and hopefully stave off the grease monster. Wish me luck, I will probably end up laying in cat pee or something worse.

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    DIY Member rayh78's Avatar
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    You are looking at this all wrong. What if she was flushing diaper down the toilet. Would you go over there every day and unclog the toilet for her.
    Any damage beyond normal wear and tear is the responsibility of the tenant by law. It is not recommended or considered normal to put grease down the drain. Who cares if a trailer or a house?
    In my lease for my rentals the tenant rents the place with the sewage lines free and clear and if they clog up then it is the tenants responsibility to pay for the repair. Unless a plumber states in writing there is a problem with the physical condition of the pipes that caused the problem.
    You have the tenant trained not to worry about this problem you will take care of. Bet she would not do it if she owned the home.
    It is amazing how few times a pipe gets clogged up once the tenant pays for their first roto rooter bill. Never had it happen more than once after they pay the first bill. And average tenant stay is about 7 years.

    You just need to explain it to her and start charging.

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    DIY Junior Member sedin26's Avatar
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    You can actually get people to rent a place from you and agree to pay for any clogs that might happen?

    I know I wouldn't.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sedin26 View Post
    You can actually get people to rent a place from you and agree to pay for any clogs that might happen?

    I know I wouldn't.
    I wouldn't either...
    Here anyway it is law!

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    #1 while plumbing drains are made for waste water they also work well as grease traps as you have found out...I have a client who has 180 rentals and his rental contract states that if a drain becomes clogged with grease that the resulting call to unplug the drain is billed to the tenant on the next rent cycle...if it is not paid he starts eviction procedings...he does his own legal work so other than his time he looses nothing....

    Plumbing drains were not designed for large quantities of grease that will accumulate on pipe walls...the reason it is all over everything is because she is not using dish soap and hot water in enough quantities to emulsify the grease and is not disposing of excess grease in the trash before washing the dishes...

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    DIY Member Blumengarten's Avatar
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    Hi Drizler,

    I'm not a plumber but my parents had 28 rental units, so I grew up with this. When the lease comes up for renewal, put in it a clause that the tenant is responsible for all repairs under $100 or $200, and all plumbing repairs caused by obstructions (or damage to the pipes if caused by the tenant while attempting to remove the clog!).

    Grease can be poured into empty tin cans and thrown away, or if there's a small amount, poured onto newspaper in the trash. It can be allowed to harden in the pan and then scraped into the garbage can. Grease can attract rodents, so the garbage needs to be taken outside and placed in canisters with tight-fitting lids. She'll probably be offended if you try to teach her proper housekeeping skills, but she was probably never taught by her parents. Talk to her gently and explain to her why this needs to be done -- ideally drains should not clog!

    Hope all goes well,
    Joy

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    DIY Member rayh78's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sedin26 View Post
    You can actually get people to rent a place from you and agree to pay for any clogs that might happen?

    I know I wouldn't.
    Would you also noy pay if you put a large hole in the wall. Samething, you are using it different than what it is designed for. Not normal wear and tear.
    Why should you not pay for your irresponsibility or whatever you want to call it.

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    DIY Junior Member sedin26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rayh78 View Post
    Would you also noy pay if you put a large hole in the wall. Samething, you are using it different than what it is designed for. Not normal wear and tear.
    Why should you not pay for your irresponsibility or whatever you want to call it.
    Of course I'd pay if I put a hole in the wall or caused any other damage to the unit. I'd also be happy to pay if I dropped something in the drain that caused an obstruction or dumped grease in there and caused a clog. I take pride in leaving a place in at least as good a condition as when I rented it.

    My experience with rental units, though, is that owners generally don't give a damn about the place as long as they get their rent payments. The plumbing tends to be substandard and is prone to obstructions regardless of how it is treated by me.

    For that reason, I would be reluctant to enter an agreement where I was expected to pay for any obstruction that may come up.

    Where I'm from (Victoria, BC) an agreement like yours is unheard of. It may be common in your area, though. If I was to rent a place with an agreement like you have, I would only do so if I could have a copy of the latest camera inspection (and it had better be recent) and a report on past obstructions and what caused them.

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    DIY Member rayh78's Avatar
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    “ Tenant who cooks with oodles of grease. I mean gallons of the stuff so its all over her dishes ect. Long story short she manages to plug the drain a lot.”

    So you think it would be fair for the landlord to pay Roto Rooter to come out lets say once a month?

    Above is what the original post was about.

    Your quote “My experience with rental units, though, is that owners generally don't give a damn about the place as long as they get their rent payments.”

    And most landlords experience is Tenants don’t give a damn about the property. And think the rent should also cover their accidents or their mistakes. Or if they pay $900.00 a month rent it is pure profit to the landlord and they should be able to cause as much damage as they like.

    Yes just like bad tenants there are slumlords. Some started that way and some end up there after too many times having thousands of dollars in damage after a move out.

    When we buy a property we replace anything that even looks like it may cause a problem later. Windows, roofs, whatever. Cheaper to pay now than later. Of course that means going to all pvc sewage lines if not already at least ABS.

    Most of the time a good plumber can make a very good guess if it could be a problem with the pipes or if a clog by tenant.

    And of course tenants would be allowed if they wanted to get all the inspections they required before even signing a lease. They could even camera the lines and pay a lab to even do a strength test on that drywall. As long as they pay for the test and repair any damage done by testing.

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    DIY Junior Member sedin26's Avatar
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    I don't think we're really too far apart on most of the issues. I definitely don't think I'd want to be a landlord.....too much trouble unless you're lucky enough to get good tenants.

    I definitely agree, in the case of the tenant who keeps clogging with grease, that she can be told to stop or it will not be paid for again.

    I don't begrudge you the option to have an agreement that makes tenants pay for any clogs, regardless of origin, but I personally would not move into a place like that unless I really couldn't find anywhere else that I liked.

    Honestly, if a prospective landlord was so worried about telling me I had to pay for any sewer line cleanings, I would automatically wonder what issues he had in the past with that particular house. I also don't think it would be worth the expense for me to have the lines checked out - that's not normal when it comes to renting a house.

    I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't really consider it an issue but it just wouldn't be for me.

    The irony here, of course, is that I am a very good tenant and am respectful of the property I live in.

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    DIY Member drizler's Avatar
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    Default I Didn't Mean To Start The Great Tenant Debate, But.....

    A lot of it depends on where you live. That has a big effect on everything. Around here there are few decent tenants as everyone who WORKS just manages to buy their own house. Those that don't fall between the few condos around and rentals in the local city area. Out here in the countryside you can't get anyone but HUD quite often and lets face it have you ever tried to sell a trailer? You can't unless you are willing to take a land contract from people who for the most part just don't want to be bothered working when they can do almost as well surfing the programs, remember this is NY State. That is what you end up with. They will happily give you whatever is left after their hard luck life is done with them but thats after booze and cigarettes you know. Kick em out and likely you end up with something as bad or worse.
    I just talked with a guy from Quebec and he told me they can't even ask a tenant if they are employed up there. Better yet the savvy bums know the rules well and bait them into bringing it up so they can run to the local advocates office and have a fat fine levied. Priceless eh? You just have to love the critters. Train them, you might as well try to train a cat.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    I recall a recent job where the landlord tried snaking the main line himself and took too long before giving up. I had just arrived and the housing inspector from the city was there checking to see if the tennant needed to be put up in a hotel at the landlords expense another night.

    He agreed to check back later, and he came back just as I was finishing the job...

    Like I said the landlord pays here...

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I don't know the legal issues involved, but I can say that this discussion is a whole lot more interesting than tankless water heater!

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