Are you forever asking Google to answer heating and plumbing FAQs about your rental property? As a tenant, you need to know how your domestic plumbing and heating systems work. Using them correctly and efficiently will not only ensure you have heat and hot water when you need it, but also prevent damage and costly repairs, and help manage your energy usage.

We’ll answer the top five questions that tenants ask about their plumbing and heating systems, and we’ll share some of our top tips for reducing energy costs, too.

FAQ 1: What should I do if my sink is clogged?

You’d be surprised at just how many tenants call their landlords at the first sign of a blocked sink – but you can save time and hassle by trying a few fixes first.

  • Pour boiling water down the drain – sometimes the simplest thing can work!
  • If the boiling water on its own doesn’t do the trick, pour soda crystals or bicarbonate soda down the drain. Wait for a few minutes, then pour in some white vinegar – you should see some fizzing as it reacts with the soda crystals. Wait for five to ten minutes, then pour another kettle-full of boiling water down the drain.
  • If you don’t have soda crystals or bicarbonate soda, then use some biological washing powder instead – put a few spoonfuls down the drain with some hot water, wait for five to ten minutes, then flush down a kettleful of boiling water.
  • Use a plunger to dislodge the blockage – remember to block the sink overflow first and run the taps so you have about 5cm of water in the sink, to create a good seal for the plunger.
  • If you still have a blockage, then try a drain snake – if you haven’t seen one, it’s a long, flexible rod that extends down the drain to push the blockage clear. Find them in your local hardware shop or online.

FAQ 2: How do I prevent my pipes from freezing in the winter?

During the winter months, the water in your pipes can freeze – at best, leaving you without running water, and, at worst, it could cause the pipes to burst – likely to result in significant damage to your home.

To stop your pipes from freezing in the cold weather:

  • insulate outside pipes and any pipes in unheated areas such as the attic, basement and garage;
  • insulate your water tank;
  • keep your home at a minimum temperature of 12-15 degrees, even when you’re away;
  • open hatches or cupboard doors, to allow warm air to circulate;
  • make sure that your boiler is serviced annually (speak to your landlord or letting agent if you’re unsure).

FAQ 3: How often should I replace the shower head in my shower?

Tenants often ask their landlord about shower heads and why they’re experiencing reduced water pressure in the shower. They’re usually surprised at the answer: shower heads should be replaced every six to eight months.

Over time, mineral sediment from the water builds up inside the shower head and reduces water flow. At the same time, the warm wet conditions are the perfect place for bacteria and mould to grow.

We recommend cleaning your shower head every week, to help prevent the build up of minerals and to slow bacterial growth – this can also prolong the life of your shower head.

  • Rub the shower head nozzles with an old toothbrush to dislodge mineral deposits.
  • Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and tie it to the shower head with a rubber band, ensuring the shower head is completely submerged. Leave it to soak for a few hours before running water through the shower to rinse away the vinegar.

FAQ 4: How do I bleed my radiators?

If your radiators aren’t heating up correctly, they may need to be bled. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn off the heating system.
  2. Locate the bleed valve on the radiator.
  3. Insert a radiator key into the valve and turn it counter-clockwise.
  4. You should hear air escaping the radiator.
  5. Once water begins to flow out (have a tissue or cloth handy), close the valve.

FAQ 5: How often should I check my gas meter readings?

We usually recommend taking a note of your gas meter reading every three months. However, with many people feeling the pinch because of the cost of living crisis and the current high energy prices, taking a meter reading every month will help you to keep track of your gas usage.

Taking regular meter readings means you avoid any nasty surprises when you receive your bill. In addition, keeping a close eye on your energy meter will let you spot any opportunities to reduce usage, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint.

If you need a hand reading your meter, consumer organisation Which? has a handy online guide.

Remember that any work to your gas appliances or gas central heating system must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Top tips to reduce energy costs

Using less energy is good for our pocket and for the planet! Here are our five top tips to reduce energy costs, which everyone should be able to follow:

  1. Use a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature when you’re not home.
  2. Install weather stripping around doors and windows to prevent drafts.
  3. Lower the temperature on your water heater to 60°C to reduce energy usage.
  4. Use LED light bulbs, which are more energy-efficient and last longer than traditional bulbs.
  5. Unplug electronics when they are not in use to prevent “phantom” energy usage.

Have we answered your plumbing and heating FAQs?

We’ve answered the five plumbing and heating FAQs, but if you have a question about your rental property, be sure to ask your property manager, landlord, or local, trusted plumbing and heating engineers for advice. By understanding the basics of your domestic plumbing and heating systems, you can prevent potential issues and ensure everything is running efficiently.

Additionally, following these tips will help reduce energy costs in your home, benefiting both you and the environment.