This Paris Life

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Adventures in Paris Plumbing: Tips for keeping your Paris apartment pipes in good shape.

It seems that you cannot get together with friends nowadays without someone bringing up fauna and flora and how best to take care of your pipes.  But not many folks in Paris are eager to help you take care of the pipes in your apartment.  Never mind that you renovated it when you bought it.  There is more than a strong likelihood that most of the pipes in your building have gone unchanged since the building itself was built.  People move evacuation pipes when they move a kitchen from one side of the apartment to another, or add in a toilet, or remove a tub and make it a shower.  But these cosmetic changes rarely go beyond the limits of your own apartment and whatever changes you have made have been probably been hooked up to existing pipes, many of which are at least one hundred years old.  And that means that they are metal, often copper, with a narrow width.  Kitchens in even brand new apartments in Paris almost never come with garbage disposal systems, meaning that even the slightest issue can become huge if you have not learned the basics of living with old plumbing.

As a kid I remember my mom telling us, “never put something smaller than your elbow in your ear” and that seemed to work; none of us found ourselves with earaches brought on by Q-Tips pushed too far into our ears.  That same principle can help when thinking about your kitchen sink.  Nothing larger than coffee grounds should ever go down your sink. Ever.

Paris Property Group can save you a lot of trouble by looking after your apartment while you’re away.  Here are some of our best secrets:

With an investment of less than 10€ you can probably save yourself hundreds of Euros further down the line.  Buy something like this for your kitchen sink: .  Most Parisians do one of two things with the food that collects in the strainer: dump it in the trashcan they have in the kitchen or walk it to the bathroom and tap the contents into the bowl and flush.  People do this because not everyone takes their kitchen trash out daily and flushing it avoids odors in the trash.

Another thing to do regularly is to make sure that your property management company is going to your apartment monthly and flushing toilets and running water in sinks each time they visit.  People who think they can lock up their apartment and then come back 4 or 5 months later with no one coming by during that long pause are often met with swamp gas smells when they open the door to their apartment.  This is simply because you want to make sure that water in your toilet never evaporates beyond the U-pipe in the plumbing.  A toilet without the water at normal levels can allow odors to come out through the pipes that are connected to other evacuation pipes in the building.

We encourage our housekeeping teams to put baking soda and plain vinegar into the pipes in showers and sinks every visit.  This not only reduces odors, but also helps fight against calcium buildup on copper pipes (the water in Paris is particularly hard) and in kitchen spigots and shower heads.  A side note about vinegar: no need to buy the expensive vinegar in the cleaning products aisle inside a hardware department.  Buy the cheap vinegar blanc in the food aisle, next to cooking oils and you will get the same result for less than one Euro per bottle.

If you’ve gone the route of renting your place out during the times you are not using it, a frustrating experience is coming back to your Paris ‘home’ and finding that all of your glasses are covered with a white film that does not go away with a simple dishwasher cycle.  In fact, the cause of the problem IS your dishwasher and your rental agency not making sure that they regularly add rinse solution and heavy salt inside the machine.

If your bathroom has heaters that are part of the radiator system of the building, it’s also important that these be turned off when the apartment is not occupied.  As more and more buildings are opting for individual meters, meaning you no longer pay based on the square meters of your apartment but rather the amount actually used inside your apartment, it’s important to make sure anything that can be turned off IS turned off when no one is using your apartment.

Another thing to consider doing on a periodic basis is using an environmentally-friendly drain cleaner (think Drano but no dangerous chemicals) to keep shower pipes from building up hair and other soap products.  Adding traps for the drains (mentioned above) will keep this from happening and then you don’t need to do the drain cleaner piece.


As mentioned above, Paris Property Group can keep your apartment safe and secure during absences at very cost effective prices.


Contact Paris Property Group to learn more about buying or selling property in Paris.

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