Dear Maintenance Men

Dear Maintenance Men | September 16, 2008


Dear Maintenance Men:

I have installed vinyl floor squares a number of times, but I can’t seem to get it aligned with the walls. It always looks like the floor is slightly tilted to one side. Do you have a procedure on
how to start the first tile straight and end up with a square looking job?


Dear Noah:

Complete all of your floor prep work; be sure
the surface is clean, dry and free from dust and
debris. Measure the length and width of the floor; divide each
measurement by two and mark the floor
at the intersecting lines.

Snap a chalk line along the length and width of the floor, using the previous measurements. This will produce a cross dividing the floor into quadrants. Now check your chalk line for “squareness,” using a carpenter’s square at the intersection of the two lines.

Next, dry fit your tile in both directions to determine your
run. Keep the following in mind: adjust your chalk reference lines to allow for full tiles at high traffic tile termination points
such as dining room to kitchen, hallway to bathroom, etc.
Ideally, you will want to use no less than one half of a tile at any wall or termination point if possible. Start your first tile at the
cross section of the two chalk lines. This will allow you to use two perpendicular straight lines to align your first tile. Follow
each chalk line, putting down tile until you have formed a cross dividing the floor into quadrants. Continue gluing down
your tile in each quadrant by going down one axis and across the other.

Dear Maintenance Men | September 16, 2008


Dear Maintenance Men:

I have recently repainted a vacant unit in my building. After a couple of months, I did a routine inspection of the property. I found peeling paint on most of the doors and frames. I am a bit disturbed by this, as I expected the enamel paint to last much longer. What went wrong and what can I do about it?


Dear Steve:

We believe water-based latex enamel paint was used over the oil-based enamel paint.

When using enamel paint, be sure to verify the type of enamel
paint you are painting over. A simple way to determine which type of enamel you have is to rub the paint with a rag and denatured alcohol. Latex paint will soften and leave a residue on your rag; the oil-based paint will do nothing. Waterbased latex enamel should be used over latex enamel and oil-based enamel over oil-based enamel. As you may know, finding oil-based paint is getting harder and harder.

If you switch from “oil” to “latex” paint,the surface must be sanded or de-glossed and a latex primer designed for adhesion should be used over the existing oil based surface. Zinsser 1-2-3 is a suitable primer for this purpose and it is available at most
home centers.

If you are using a vendor to paint your unit, be sure to ask how they handle the transition from oil to latex. Direct them to prime any oil-based work before using a latex paint on your woodwork.

Dear Maintenance Men | November 6, 2008


Dear Maintenance Men:
I have a question about outside stairs. I currently have wooden stairs in need of repair. I don’t know if I should recover my current stairs with fiberglass and a waterproof coating or demo the stairs and replace them with metal and concrete stairs. Which would be most economical, last the longest and be maintenance free?

Dear Rhonda:
As with any repair or replace decisions, we like to use the 50/50 rule. If repairing the item costs 50% or more of the replacement cost,we recommend replacement. Before you make a decision to repair or replace, you may want to ask the following questions:

1. What percentage of the stairs and balconies are damaged?
2. Do you have structural damage and/or support issues?
3. Must the work be completed in a single day?
4. Can the work bleed into a second day?
5. What is your budget?

If your stairs and balconies have a high percentage of damage and the structural integrity is in question: removal and replacement of the existing wood stair system may be more cost effective.

If the damage is more cosmetic than structural, repairs should be considered over replacement. Often the stairs cannot be closed for long periods. Repairs can be done in sections much easier than a complete replacement, which might take more than one day. As for long-term maintenance issues; a three part fiberglass stair system will require yearly maintenance to keep them looking new. A metal and concrete stair system will need almost no maintenance for years.

Getting a quote from both a metal stair system and a fiberglass stair system contractor will help you determine what would be best for your budget and long term goals.

Dear Maintenance Men | November 6, 2008


Dear Maintenance Men:
Like everyone else in Southern California, I was a bit “shaken up” by the recent earthquake. Beyond flashlights, water and the typical emergency items during a disaster, what else should I consider?

Dear Chris:
We were also a bit shaken by the last earth tremor and discovered a few holes in our emergency toolbox. We found that having the usual emergency procedures, such as having all your tenants’ phone numbers and emergency personal numbers such as Fire and Police was not enough. We were lucky that this past earthquake was not a major disaster. But, it did serve as a major learning tool. As property owners, managers and maintenance professionals, we have greater responsibilities than the average homeowner. Our first and foremost concern during and after a natural or man made disaster should be the ability to communicate with your staff and “key” members of our organization.

For example: after the July 29th 2008 earthquake both land based phones and cell phone voice lines were not working for a short time due to damage or overloading of the circuits. That means that communication between you and your loved ones, your tenants and even emergency personnel was compromised.

Now, not all communication was down. We found that emails were getting through as was “Texting” and our two-way Nextel radios operated normally. This recent earthquake told us we need to update and tighten our emergency procedures.

We are training our staff how to communicate by texting over their cell phones and establishing an e-mail network should the traditional means of communication not be available to us. These procedures should be written down and practiced. Included in your procedures should be a chain of command and chain of communication. Should one person not be available or one means of ommunication be down, move down the list until order and communication is established. Should the need arise; these procedures should be put in an emergency response folder for easy retrieval. It is much easier to follow a written procedure with all the communication links attached than try to remember what you did last time there was a disaster.

Dear Maintenance Men | December 4, 2008


Dear Maintenance Men:

I am trying to repair some damagedstucco at my building, but my repairslook a lot like a child’s mud painting.How can I make my stucco repairs look better?


Dear Janet:
Stucco patching is a true art. Anyone can patch a hole but “blending” is the key to making it look seamless. Let's begin with the proper tools you will need. As with any repair use the proper tools for the job. (Keep the kitchen spatula in the kitchen.)

Tools Needed:
•(5) gallon bucket
•(1) trough
•Shovel (spade)
•9" trowel•Hawk (used to place stucco on, a flatboard with a handle underneath)
•Rubber float
•Sponge float
•Spray bottle or hose with mist nozzle
•4" and 6" drywall knife (for scraping)
•Wire brush

Begin with scraping loose, bubbled, flaking, loose stucco with your drywall knife (you can really have fun with this but remember the more you scrape the more you patch).

Using your wire brush clean the newly scraped surfaces and surrounding areas to clean away dirt, dust, and grit. Mix your stucco finish material using shovel and trough. Mix to a peanut butter consistency(add water a little at a time). Mist the wall patch areas using the garden hose or spray bottle (keep the patch areas damp). Load the hawk with stucco using your trowel, spread stucco at approx. 3/8’’ thickness.(This will allow you to spread the stucco paste thin or heavy depending on area.) Patch all areas. Using the rubber float beg into form the bottom and work your way up(do not be afraid to spread beyond your patch areas, this will help “blend” and create a seamless finish). Once you accomplish an even surface, lightly mist the new stucco areas and lightly push and pull the float into the stucco creating the stippled effect.

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