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Maintenance FAQ

Circuit Breakers

Located inside your apartment is a circuit breaker panel (sometimes called a fuse box) that contains circuit breakers for each of the circuits in your apartment. Check your apartment for a wall colored painted metal panel which may be located in a hallway or inside a closet.

A circuit breaker provides protection for each of your electrical circuits by stopping the flow of current if an overload or fault occurs. When an electrical fault occurs or the load on your circuit becomes too great, the breaker on that circuit trips and interrupts the flow of current to that circuit. A tripped circuit breaker is still sometimes referred to as a "blown fuse" in reference to the older technology that circuit breakers replaced.

Before electricity can be restored, the circuit breaker must be reset. However, even before you do that, turn off or unplug all of the devices that are plugged into the circuit. Make certain no dangerous condition exists before restoring power.

A circuit breaker which has been tripped will either be in the middle or "OFF" position. Locate the tripped circuit breaker and reset it by pushing it all the way to the "OFF" position and then back to the "ON" position.

Electricity should now be restored to the circuit. If the circuit breaker trips again before you have turned anything on or plugged anything in, please call in a maintenance request.

If the circuit breaker trips after plugging in or turning on a device, that device may have a short or may be placing too much of a load on the circuit.

If no circuit breakers were tripped and you still do not have power at an outlet, there may be a wiring fault, the outlet may be defective or it may be on a GFCI controlled branch circuit. Refer to the guide for checking a GFCI outlet.


A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet is a device that adds a greater level of safety by reducing the risk of electric shock. Most building codes now require that a GFCI outlet be used in wet locations such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and outdoors.

A GFCI outlet monitors for a current imbalance between the hot and neutral wires and breaks the circuit if that condition occurs. A circuit breaker usually will trip if you receive a shock, but it may not act fast enough to protect you from harm. A GFCI outlet is more sensitive and acts faster than a circuit breaker or fuse and is thus an important safety feature.

A GFCI outlet may be wired in a branch circuit, which means other outlets and electrical devices may share the same circuit and breaker (or fuse). When a properly wired GFCI trips, the other devices down the line from it will also lose power. Note that devices on the circuit that come before the GFCI are not protected and are not affected when the GFCI is tripped. If the GFCI outlet is improperly wired, none the other loads, upstream nor downstream are be protected.

If you have an outlet that doesn't work, and the breaker is not tripped, look for a GFCI outlet which may have tripped. The non-working outlet may be down line from a GFCI outlet. Note that the affected outlets may not be located near the GFCI outlet, they may be several rooms away or even on a different floor.

GFCI outlets should be tested periodically, at least once a year. A GFCI outlet has a "Test" and a "Reset" button. Pressing the "Test" button will trip the outlet and break the circuit. Pressing the "Reset" will restore the circuit. If pressing the test button does not work, then replace the GFCI outlet. If the outlet does pop when you press the "Test" button, but the outlet still has power, the outlet is miswired. A miswired outlet is dangerous and it should be fixed immediately.

Garbage Disposal

*Before making repairs, unplug the garbage disposer or shut off the power at the fuse box or breaker panel to avoid injury.

Turn off the disposer. Reach under the sink (inside the cabinet) to the disposer and feel for a small, slightly recessed button. The button may be on the bottom or the side of the unit. Press the button all the way in. Now plug the disposer back into the outlet or turn on the breaker and turn on the disposer.

If it runs, job done. Otherwise, call the office to set up a maintenance request.

How To Use a Plunger to Unclog a Toilet, Sink, Tub or Shower

When using a plunger, a mistake people often make is leaving to much air in the plunger cup. Air is compressible but water does not compress very much. So if the cup is full of air, every time you push down, the air compresses and acts like a shock absorber. This means the clog doesn't receive as much force. If the plunger cup is filled with water, the force you apply to the plunger is transferred through the water all the way to the clog and the force is much more effective. So, when plunging, there must be some water in the fixture, and tilt the plunger cup to burp the air as it is submerged in the water.

How To Plunge a Clogged Toilet

We recommend a plunger with a flange for toilet, rather than the old fashioned cup style.

  • If the bowl is full, put on some gloves and bail out water until the bowl is only half full.
  • If the bowl is empty, add water to fill it to half full.
  • In order to avoid the possibility of splash back, drape a large towel over the bowl and under the toilet seat.
  • Place the plunger in the bowl and completely cover the drain opening.
  • With the plunger completely under water, press and pull it rapidly for 15-20 seconds.
  • If the water drains out of the bowl, add some more water and plunge again.
  • If the water seems to be properly draining, go ahead and try flushing the toilet
  • If the toilet is still clogged when you try flushing, please turn off the water supply on the back of the toilet to prevent it from overflowing.

How To Plunge a Clogged Sink, Shower or Tub

We recommend a standard plunger without a flange for sinks, bathtubs and showers.

  • Add water, if necessary, to submerge the plunger cup.
  • Place the plunger over the drain and completely cover the drain opening.
  • Sinks and tubs have overflow drains. They must be securely covered or the plunger will force the water out through the overflow. Sinks have hole that you may be able to stuff with a rag. Bathtubs have a drain overflow about one foot above the drain opening. It may be necessary to remove the cover plate before a towel can be used to seal the overflow opening.
  • With the plunger completely under water, press and pull it rapidly for 15-20 seconds.
  • If the water drains out of the fixture, add some more water and plunge again.

If the water seems to be properly draining, go ahead and run some water to test the drain.