Dear Maintenance Men

Dear Maintenance Men | December 4, 2008

Print
PDF

Dear Apartment Owners:

We are getting close to the holidays, which means more guests at your apartment buildings, more cooking in your units and an emergency call to you on Thanksgiving Day from one of your residents about a clogged sink or non-working oven with an apartment full of guests waiting for dinner. This scenario can ruin both you and your residents’ holiday. The answer is: Preventive Maintenance. Before the holiday season begins, check each stove and oven for proper operation. Many residents only turn on their ovens at this time of year and the problem may be as simple as a pilot light being out. Also, check the oven’s temperature calibration with an oven thermometer. This time of year sees a higher than normal use of the plumbing. It may be a good idea to snake out or hydro jetting your main plumbing lines. Also, sending a note to each tenant on the proper use of the garbage disposal will be useful. Note what they should and should not put down the disposal unit. A few items to include on this No No list are: banana peels, potato skins, coffee grounds and any stringy food. Also make sure they turn on the water before using the disposer and put down small amounts of food at a time. Do not use the disposer as a trash can and then turn it on when full, it will clog. Christmas and other holidays also mean more people than usual walking on your property. Is your property safe? What are some of the liabilities to worry about? Check trip and fall hazards. Sprinkler heads sticking up above the grass or landscape near sidewalks. Use pop-up heads to solve this problem. Look for sidewalks that have been pushed up by tree roots. This can be solved with a concrete grinder or replacement of the section and removal of the tree root. Cut any low hanging tree branches and look for branches that may break in heavy winter wind or rain. Check your decking for cracks or damage and inspect the exterior stairways for wear and tear. Inspect all your garage door springs, winter wind and rain may make them heavy causing the door to close or fall unexpectedly. As a precaution, always replace both garage springs at the same time and throw away any used springs. Never install used garage springs. Check all property lighting and timers. Remember: Preventive Maintenance is cheaper than Emergency Maintenance!


Dear Maintenance Men | January 15, 2009

Print
PDF

Dear Maintenance Men: I have just installed a new 40-gallon water heater in my rental unit. The pilot light will not stay on. I assume the problem is the thermocouple, but the new water heaters are sealed units and do not allow me to repair them. What do you think the problem is and how can I solve this issue without returning the water heater or calling in an expensive repair technician? Gary

Dear Gary: In past columns we have addressed the diagnoses and repair of older water heaters that do not have a sealed combustion chamber and have exposed pilot and thermocouple assembles. With the current breed of domestic water heaters referred to as FVIR or Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant water heater, often the issue is fresh air. Since the combustion chamber is sealed, fresh air is ducted to the pilot flame through a screened vent on the bottom or side of the water heater. If the water heater is installed in an enclosed cabinet, the pilot flame may not get enough fresh air to breathe and the pilot flame goes out. The solution to this problem is to install bigger vents in the cabinet housing the water heater. Another issue is having the water heater in a dirty environment such as in a laundry room. Lint from the clothes dryer may clog the water heater’s fresh air inlet screens. This will also cause the pilot to go out over time. The screens need to be cleaned with a vacuum or a brush to remove any debrisor lint from the air inlet screens. If it is determined that the thermocouple unit has gone bad, the solution is to remove the whole sealed pilot assembly.

This is accomplished by first turning off the gas, then disassemble the gas, pilot and thermocouple pipes from the gas control valve. Remove the security screws that hold the pilot assembly and remove the whole unit from the water heater. The thermocouple can now be serviced. Please note: if your water heater is under warranty, removing of the security screws may void your warranty.

Dear Maintenance Men | January 15, 2009

Print
PDF

Dear Maintenance Men: Whenever it rains or the sprinklers are on too long, certain areas along my concrete walkways flood and hold water. I assume these are low spots in the concrete. What can I do the remove this hazard without removing the concrete and re-pouring new slabs? Francisco

Dear Francisco: You are right. Flooded walkways are a true slip and fall hazard. Demolishing your existing concrete is a very expensive solution and not one to be taken lightly. Our solution is one you could do your-self or your gardener can undertake.

First locate the center of each flooded area along your concrete walkway. Using a core-drilling tool rented from a local rental yard, drill a three-inch hole in the slab. Next: use your garden hose with a three quarter inch PVC pipe (long enough to reach the hole you just core drilled) attached to the hose. Position your pipe and hose horizontallyand at a ninety-degree angle to the slab.Turn on the water and slowly push the PVC pipe under the slab and towards the newhole. Be sure to keep the PVC pipe level. Stop when you can see or feel the PVC with your hand through the core-drilled hole.

Make sure the tunnel you just pushed through under the slab is large enough to allow a two or three inch PVC drainpipe to be inserted. Before inserting the new drain, glue a ninety-degree elbow to the drain pipe. The drainpipe can now be inserted with the elbow ending at the core-drilled hole. Insert or glue the drain basket or cover to the drainpipe. The drain cover should be flush to the concrete as not to create a trip hazard.

The new drainpipe can now carry any excess water away from the slab. The new drain line may empty into a French drain, a catch basin, flowerbeds or simply pipe to an existing drain line. Be sure to have all your parts before renting the core-drilling tool. Bring your drain basket or drain cover with you to the rental yard so you can order the correct size drill bit to make the hole in the concrete.

Dear Maintenance Men | January 15, 2009

Print
PDF

Dear Maintenance Men: My rain gutters leak at some of the joint seams. I have smeared silicone on the joints, but it still leaks. What can I do? Stan

Dear Stan: The underlying issue with your rain gutters is support. Chances are the supports holding up your gutters are weak or rotted. Check each connector holding the rain gutters onto your building. Weak support will cause the gutter to sag when water is present and the joints to separate. If the sag is pronounced enough, the gutters will have low spots, which will cause the gutter to sag even more over time. Once the gutters are properly supported, the joint can be resealed.

You can use clear silicone, or depending on the gutter material, go to your local hardware store and buy the appropriate sealant. The gutter joints must be clean and dry before sealing.

TRIVIA How did Flashlights get their name?
Answer: The flashlight was invented by Joshua Lionel Cowen of the Lionel Train Company in 1898 and patented by Conrad Hubert of the Ever-Ready Battery Company. Because early batteries were weak and bulbs primitive, flashlights of the era produced only a brief flash of light—thus the name.

Dear Maintenance Men | February 6, 2009

Print
PDF

Dear Maintenance Men: I am a new owner of a 1965 four-plex. I am living in the front owners unit. It truly is a great place to live but I am quite concerned about my privacy and the fact that I can hear my tenant’s conversations, their TV or radio through the common wall between the units. I figure if I can hear them, they can hear me. I do know I probably lack insulation but do not want to make the expense of ripping drywall out and so on. Do you have any other suggestions? Tom

Dear Tom: We agree, the worst job to do in an occupied unit is significant drywall work. The dust and debris are awful no matter how good your dust control method. Fortunately, in your case you can address this problem by using a product called Acoustic-coat #150 which is basically a lightly textured water based flat latex paint, formulated with hollow ceramicmicro-spheres and sound-absorbing fibers and resins. To spare our readers a crashcourse in chemistry, we will give you the basic highlights.

Acoustic-coat #150 is a sound reduction paint, which can reduce sound transmission by 30% and will also dramatically reduce sound echo in the room. Acoustic-coat #150 can be used on walls and ceiling and also has excellent insulating properties. This sound reduction paint is most effective for speech range frequencies. The paint can be bought premixed or as a powdered additive and added to yourpaint. Please refer to this web site for more detailed info: www.ceramicadditive.com

Contact AACSC

Apartment Association,

California Southern Cities
333 W. Broadway St., Suite 101
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 426-8341

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it