Plumbing

Some examples of what qualifies as a plumbing emergency:

  • Toilet actively overflowing
  • Sink overflowing (clogged and can’t shut water off)
  • Active pipe leaks (more than a gallon of water falling per hour)
  • Roof leaks
  • Ceiling leaks (more than an occasional drip)
  • Gas smells

Toilets

Clogs

Never flush heavy paper products or other items down the toilet. Excess paper, paper towels, feminine products, latex condoms, and other “non-flushable” products can clog the toilet and/or the building’s sewer system. If your toilet is clogged, use the plunger provided to loosen the clog.  

How to plunge the toilet:

  • Put the plunger in the bowl covering the drain
  • Push down and then, once the air has escaped from under the plunger, pull up. You are trying to create suction to dislodge the clog
  • Repeat pushing and pulling

Overflowing

  • Check below and behind the bowl for the shutoff valve
  • Turn the valve to the right to turn the water off and prevent the toilet from continuing to flood. You should feel the valve tighten
  • Submit a FixIt request to have a plumber check on the toilet

Running

If your toilet is continuously running, submit a FixIt request. The flapper may be gone or there may be water running through the flush valve.

Garbage Disposal

When you are using the disposal, keep the cold water running to flush food particles down the pipe. Do not use the garbage disposal for medical products, meat, bones, or fibrous material such as corn husks, coffee grinds, rice, or animal fat, as this will clog the disposal and damage the motor. Try not to overload the grinding chamber. This may jam or burn out the motor.

Do not attempt to dislodge any items by reaching or looking into the drain while the garbage disposal is in use. Be sure the disposal is first switched "off."

Tips to keep your garbage disposal working:

  • Grind food waste with moderate flow of cold water until grinding is complete.
  • Grind peelings from citrus fruits or baking soda to eliminate odors in your drain. You may use a household disposal cleaner, degreaser or deodorizer as needed.
  • Try not to overload the grinding chamber. This may jam or burn out the motor.

PLEASE NOTE: Improper use of the garbage disposal will cause the dishwasher to overflow as it uses the same sink drain. Always run the garbage disposal before turning the dishwasher on.

Not Working

If your disposal isn’t working correctly, try the reset button. Usually this will be a red button on the bottom of the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal is the cylindrical item directly under the sink. Underneath the disposal, you should find a red reset button. Press the button so that it stays depressed. Next, run the water and try the disposal. If you are still having trouble, submit a FixIt request.

Sinks

Clogs

In bathroom sinks, clean the pop-up stopper. Hair often collects and causes clogs.

For kitchen sinks, regular use of the garbage disposal, if present, will also help to ensure open drains. 

Odors

To eliminate odors in sinks with garbage disposals, fill the disposal about half way with ice cubes, then run the garbage disposal while running the cold water. Next, put half a lemon or half a box of baking soda into the garbage disposal and run the disposal while running the cold water for about 30 seconds. Rinse afterwards with cold water for several seconds.

Murky Water

If the water has been turned off for a sustained period of time, try running the water for several minutes until it clears up.

Taste

DC Water routinely disinfects drinking water with chlorine and chloramine in order to keep it safe for use. You may occasionally notice a spike in one or the other that causes your water to taste slightly different. GW has no control over this, but the water is still safe to use. 

 

Showers

Hot Water

After and during spring break and other extended periods where buildings may be mostly unoccupied, some buildings may experience a drop in water temperature as a result of low building-wide usage. If the water doesn’t get hot after 15 minutes, submit a FixIt request.

Shower Heads 

The university uses low-flow showerheads that may provide less pressure than you are used to. If the water only trickles out, submit a FixIt request. Some buildings have both a showerhead and a tub faucet. Pull the diverter up to use the showerhead and push it down to use the faucet.

Clogs

How to use a plunger to unclog your shower:

  • Cover the drain with the plunger
  • Push down and then, once the air has escaped from under the plunger, pull up. You are trying to create suction to dislodge the clog
  • Repeat pushing and pulling

Odors

  • For handicap shower floor drains, try pouring water down the drain to prime it
  • Generally, chemical smells from your water are the result of the city adding chemicals to clean out the system. The water is safe to use

Murky Water

If the water has been turned off for a sustained period of time, try running the water for several minutes until it clears up.

Taste

DC Water routinely disinfects drinking water with chlorine and chloramine in an effort to keep it safe. You may occasionally notice a spike in one or the other that causes your water to taste slightly different. The university has no control over this, but the water is still safe to use.