Apartment Management Magazine Dear Maintenance Men
By Jerry L’Ecuyer & Frank Alvarez
Dear apartment owners:
Remember that the holiday season starts with Halloween and the demand on your properties only gets worse from there. Check each stove and oven for proper operation, many residents only turn on their oven at this time of year and the problem can be as simple as a blown pilot light. This time of year sees higher than normal plumbing usage, it may be a good idea to snake or hydrojet your main plumbing lines. In addition, sending a note to each tenant on the proper use of the garbage disposal will be useful. Write down what they should and shouldn’t deposit in the disposal unit. A few items to include on this No No list are banana peels, potato peels, coffee grounds, and any stringy foods. Also make sure they turn on the water before using the grinder and drop in small amounts of food at a time. Using the shredder as a trash can and turning it on when full will cause clogging.
Christmas and other holidays also mean that more people than usual are walking around your property. Is your property safe? What are the liabilities to worry about? Check for tripping and falling hazards. Do you have sprinkler heads sticking out of grass or landscape near sidewalks? Use pop-up headers to solve this problem. Look for sidewalks that have been heaved up by tree roots. This can be fixed with a concrete grinder or replacing the section and removing the tree root. Trim all low tree branches and look for branches that can break in heavy winter rain or wind. Check your deck for cracks or damage and inspect exterior stairs to make sure they are not worn. Inspect all the springs on your garage door, winter wind and rain can weigh them down and cause the door to close or fall unexpectedly. As a precaution, always replace both garage springs at the same time and discard old springs. Never install used garage springs. Check all lights and timers on the property. Remember: preventive maintenance is cheaper than emergency maintenance!
Dear Maintenance Men:
I have a toilet that leaks every ten or twenty minutes. I replaced the fill valve; the flap valve and I even rubbed under the rim! In other words, everything I can think of that is replaceable in the tank is brand new. What else should I watch?
You have replaced all the easier!! When all else fails on a leaking toilet problem; it’s time to put on your rubber gloves and get yourself a wrench. Chances are the problem lies with the flush valve seat. Rubber flapper valve seals against flush valve seat (the big hole at the bottom of the tank.) to keep the water in the tank or let the water out of the tank. The seat may have a burr, crack, or calcium deposits that allow a small amount of water to seep past the rubber flush valve. Sanding the seat to remove burrs or calcium deposit is a short-term fix, but rarely solves the long-term problem. A permanent solution is to replace the flush valve. Start by shutting off the water supply, emptying the tank completely and removing the water line. Remove the two or three bolts that hold the tank to the toilet bowl. Turn the tank upside down and remove the large nylon or brass nut that secures the flush valve to the tank. Install the new flush valve. Make sure the bottom of the tank is clean and that there is no debris between the rubber gasket on the new valve and the tank. Tighten the large nut on the outside of the tank and you are ready to reassemble the tank and bowl and get the toilet working again. When reassembling the tank to the bowl, install new rubber washers and bolts.
Dear Maintenance Men:
I organize a “Tune Up” preventive maintenance list for my summer maintenance jobs in my rentals. Most are DIY type repairs, and my goal is to have safer, trouble free units in the long run. Can you help me with any tips or ideas that I can add to my list?
Good for you! (And good for your residents) Getting your maintenance under control is a great way to add value to your rental investment and encourage timely rent payments, etc.
Items that we would include on your “Tune Up” list would be to first inspect the property and units for liability and habitability items.
Deal with these types of items as they can be inexpensive to repair and costly not to repair.
General things to look for are:
- Loose toilet bolts and old flapper valves
- Leaky faucets and fixtures.
- Replace all white plastic water lines with flexible stainless steel lines.
- Check smoke detectors and consider adding carbon monoxide detectors.
- Loose door handles or knobs.
- Closet door tracks (worn or bent).
- Door Stops – Installed and placed correctly to avoid holes in the wall.
- Check exterior lighting and tripping hazards.
- When replacing a garbage disposal, use a. ½ hp models (Less expensive 1/3 hp grinders only promote clogs) Show your residents how to use them.
- Interior or exterior paint peeling – Using EPA lead safe practices, scrape and cover peeling paint immediately
- Check for water stains on ceilings and find their source. It is sometimes less expensive to repair a roof in a dry summer than in a wet winter.
- Check the shower and tub caulking. Remove and replace as needed.
WE NEED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS!!! If you would like to see your interview question in the “Dear Interviewers” column, please send your questions to: [email protected]
If you need maintenance or consultation work for your building or project, do not hesitate to contact us. We are available throughout Southern California. For an appointment, please call Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. at 714 956-8371
Frank Alvarez is a licensed contractor and the COO and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc.. He has been involved in apartment maintenance and construction for over 30 years. Frankie is president of the Orange County Apartment Association and a speaker, educational instructor, and chair of the AAOC Education Committee. He is also Chairman of the Product Service Counsel. Frank can be reached at (714) 956-8371 Fran[email protected] For more information, please visit: www.BuffaloMaintenance.com
Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker. He is currently a director emeritus and former president of the Orange County Apartment Association and past chair of the association’s education committee. Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.