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6 common problems in apartments—and how to prevent them

Easy fixes without needing the landlord

A cozy apartment that feels well lived in with lots of pillows and objects about. Credit: Getty Images / mixetto

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From unexpected rodent roommates to a stove that has weak heat to furniture with some … peculiar smells, renting an apartment can bring plenty of unexpected twists.

The wild world of renting can be wonderful, but it also has headaches. Both a perk and downfall of renting is that the maintenance of the facility is out of your control.

While you won’t have to pay for the electrician to come or for a new appliance to be replaced, you are at the whim of your landlord or maintenance company to fix issues that arise.

However, there are some common problems that arise in apartments that you can take into your own hands. With some wise purchases, you can solve some of the most common problems that apartment dwellers face.

1. Secure your home with fire and smoke detectors

A person installing a smoke detector in their home.
Credit: Getty Images / Dusan Ilic

Always ask about the smoke detectors when touring the apartment to make sure the landlord keeps them up to date.

When touring an apartment, always ask about the smoke detectors. Some apartment buildings may have hardwired systems with sprinkles that are out of your control. Other buildings may have smoke detectors that will need their batteries replaced. If the latter is the case, then check your smoke detectors monthly to make sure they’re in working order.

While apartment buildings come outfitted with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors are equally important but may not be required to be installed by the landlord. Especially if your building uses gas heat and you have a gas stove, you’ll want carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

You can get a dual smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector if you’re worried thatyour building may have faulty ones.

If you’re just in need of a carbon monoxide detector, then you can get a wall plug-in to keep you and your roommates protected.

2. Keep pesky pests out

A mouse scurrying across a sink countertop
Credit: Getty Images / tenra

If you find yourself in a situation where pests become a problem take these steps before calling the exterminator.

The horror of walking into your kitchen to find a mouse scurrying across the countertop is every renter’s nightmare. If you find yourself in a situation where pests become a problem and your landlord isn’t moving quickly, you can take some steps on your own.

If you know where the pests are coming in from, you can target those spots with some DIY kits. There are nets made to go over air vents as well as steel wool that can stuff holes.

You can also get yourself some mouse traps. Glue boards can stop mice and insects in their tracks; however, this method isn’t for the faint of heart. Being out in the open, you will see the pests when you catch them, and you’ll have to touch them upon disposal.

If you’re particularly squeamish, then go for no-view, no-touch traps that will keep pests out of site upon disposal.

3. Keep temperatures steady

An oven thermometer hanging from a rack just above some chocolate cupcakes
Credit: Getty Images / Betsey Goldwasser

If you’re frustrated by your produce spoiling too fast in the refrigerator or your food overcooking in the oven, then it’s time to get some thermometers.

Appliances in a rental can be completely unreliable. Unless you’re lucky enough to be moving into a freshly renovated apartment then the appliances in your space are likely a few years old and have been through many tenants. If you’re frustrated by your produce spoiling too fast in the refrigerator or your food overcooking in the oven, then it’s time to get some thermometers.

Investing $25 in both a refrigerator and oven thermometer can help you adjust the settings on your appliances. Refrigerators need to stay below 40°F to keep your food fresh, so utilizing this thermometer will let you know when you need to set your refrigerator to a cooler setting.

4. Save water and time with a countertop dishwasher

A countertop dishwasher staged on a kitchen counter.
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

A countertop dishwasher is a superb solve for apartments that come dishwasher-less.

While some appliances are faulty, others might not even be there. Many units don’t include a dishwasher, which can be a real bummer. However, a countertop dishwasher is a superb solve.

Dishwashers actually use less water than hand-washing dishes, so investing in a countertop dishwasher saves you time and resources.

They are bulky and require some significant counterspace next to a sink. However, once purchased it can come with you from apartment to apartment.

Get the Danby DDW631SDB Countertop Dishwasher at Amazon for $400

5. Bring in some in-unit laundry

Credit: Giantex | Getty Images / Petal Spirit

If you’re not into the idea of hauling your laundry a couple of blocks, a portable washing machine could be the answer.

In-unit laundry is a true luxury for apartment dwellers. While some apartments have shared laundry in the basement, others leave you to bring your laundry down the street to a laundromat.

If you’re not into the idea of hauling your laundry a couple of block and spending hours there washing and drying your laundry, think about investing in a portable washing machine.

These machines weigh under 20 pounds and attach to your sink as a water source. Some portable machines offer twin tubs so that one side can wash clothes while the other spins the water out of them.

Your clothes will still be damp despite being spun dry so grab a laundry rack to let your clothes air dry fully.

6. Get deep into the depths of your furniture

A person cleaning a rug using a Bissell Little Green cleaning machine
Credit: Bissell

A portable upholstery cleaning machine will suck out all the dirt and soiled stains that are in the depths of the fabric.

If your rental comes pre-furnished – amazing! That saves you time and money hauling in new pieces. However, rented furniture can be a little … filthy.

Lingering in the depths of upholstered furniture are germs and debris from previous tenants. While you can always spray down any solid furniture with a great all-purpose spray, upholstery requires a bit more work.

Upholstered chairs and couches can be tough to clean, but a great fabric cleaner can remove even the oldest stains.

For something more heavy duty, a portable upholstery cleaning machine will suck out all the dirt and soiled stains that are in the depths of the fabric. You won’t believe what secrets are hiding in the furniture.

If you’re going to be sleeping on a used mattress, get an excellent mattress protector. This adds an extra barrier between you and the mattress.

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