My landlord is about as reliable as the weather, so when small apartment issues come up, I would rather just tackle them myself. Otherwise, I’ll end up waiting a week for him to get over to my place and fix things.

When it comes to minute problems like a clogged drain or a stuck window, you can repair them without the maintenance staff. Here are some tips that will help you fix these common apartment issues:

Overflowing Toilet

There’s nothing scarier than an overflowing toilet (especially when you have guests over). There could be a few reasons why the water is rising ridiculously fast: the drain is clogged or the floater isn’t set properly.

First things first: Turn off the water supply to your toilet. There should be a supply line located on the bottom side of your toilet bowl with a valve attached to it. Turn the valve counterclockwise, which will stop the water from flowing.

Another option is to remove the cover of the tank and lift the floating ball high enough that the water stops running. Then use a bucket to remove the water at the brim of your toilet bowl (don’t pour it into the sink). Use a plunger to clear the pipe. Once the water level goes down, pour the water back in and flush.

Clogged Drain

Clogged pipes leave a disgusting pool of sitting water in your sink, which makes it very difficult to brush your teeth, wash your hands, wash your face, etc. Before you get on the phone with your landlord, try any of these methods:

The Plunger: Little did you know, plungers can be used for more than unclogging toilets. Partially fill your sink with water, then create a vacuum over the drain with your plunger. Start plunging up and down several times. Make sure if you have a double sink that you plug up the other drain with a wet rag while you plunge.

Baking Soda and Vinegar: Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda down the clogged drain, and follow that up with about 1 cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 20-30 minutes, which should be enough time to clear out the grime that’s blocking your pipes. Then flush the pipes with water to make sure the solution cleared up the blockage.

Coat Hanger: If you know something is obstructing your drain, place a wire coat hanger with a small hooked end down into the drain. This should pull up anything that’s clogging your sink.

Beeping Smoke Alarm

My apartment smoke alarm loves to start beeping around 2:30​ a.m., and it doesn’t stop until I get out of bed in a rage and remove it from the wall entirely. First off, if your smoke alarm is beeping, make sure it’s not because there’s an actual fire in your apartment.

Once you have ruled out that option, you can safely determine that the continuous beeping is because the battery is low. Simply replace the battery and screw the smoke detector back onto the wall. Should your smoke alarm be connected via wires, it might just be plugged in incorrectly.

If your detector still won’t stop beeping, it might be time to give your friendly maintenance staff a call.

Stuck Window

Don’t strain your back trying to open up a window that’s simply stuck. There’s an easier (and less strenuous) way to get the job done. You’ll need a utility knife and a hammer to lift the window open again.

Use your knife to score the line between the sash and the frame of the window. If that doesn’t do the trick, grab a putty knife and wedge it between the sash and frame. Use a hammer to lightly tap the blade– this should lift the window.

Clogged Garbage Disposal

It’s not hard to figure out when your garbage disposal is clogged– it probably makes a funny humming noise, but doesn’t actually grind up anything you put in there. First, turn off the motor so it doesn’t burn out and so you don’t lose a finger.

If a foreign object is in there, like a banana peel or a fork, use tongs to gently remove the item. If there’s no object that you know of in your disposal, put the end of a short broomstick into the disposal and use it to try to rotate the impellers, or blades.