As a landlord, it is easy to overlook minor issues. Performing regular maintenance on your property can help you catch a small problem before it turns into a large expense. Here are some property maintenance tips that can help save you money in the long run.
Even if you do not currently have a rodent or insect problem, you should exterminate monthly or bi-monthly to prevent such problems from occurring. Do not limit the extermination to one apartment, as critters will simply travel to another part of the property. While it is possible to purchase exterminating supplies yourself, this task is usually best left to a professional.
Monthly exterminations will cost you money, but this preventative property maintenance is a much cheaper option than the cost of losing current and prospective tenants due to a pest problem. Shop around for the best price.
As an example, you can see that spending $25 a unit for a monthly extermination is a much better option than losing $1,000 in rent because of a tenant vacancy. A complete infestation will also cost much more money because current tenants may have to temporarily leave the building and walls and ceilings will have to be opened up.
Check for Water Damage and Leaks
The best time to check for leaks is after a heavy rain storm or on very hot and humid days when pipes tend to sweat. Check for soft spots on the roofs, ceilings and walls. Look for signs of water around windows, showers and toilets. Check under sinks, boilers and water heaters.
It is imperative to identify a water leak early. Ongoing leaks can completely damage walls, ceilings and a tenant’s possessions. Dangerous mold can also form, which can be a large expense, especially if it is over 10 square feet, which would have to be remedied according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Guidelines.
Examine Shower Caulking and Grout Between Tiles
Over time, the grout between tiles can crack and the caulk surrounding the tub can loosen. When this happens, you no longer have a waterproof seal and water can leak through and damage the surrounding walls or floor below. As soon as you notice any cracks or holes, you should replace the caulking or grout to prevent potential water damage.
Test All Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Regularly
Check these devices monthly to make sure they are in working order. Both battery operated and hard wired devices should be tested. Set a schedule to test them when you collect rent or at another time that is convenient for you. These devices save lives. If there is a fire or carbon monoxide leak in your building and these devices are not in working order, you could face legal action. Also, be aware that the average lifespan of a carbon monoxide detector is five years so replace them as necessary. Smoke alarms have a useful live of about 10 years.
Change the Filters in Your Forced Air Systems
You should change the filters in your heating or air conditioning unit at least twice a year. Consult the manufacturer of your heating or cooling system to determine the highest efficiency filter for your system. Dirty filters can increase your utility bill by causing the system to work harder or can lead to malfunctions in the systems, such as causing the cooling system to freeze-up.
Routinely changing the filter can help prevent the air duct from becoming contaminated. If clogged, the ducts will usually need to be professionally cleaned and that is an expense you do not want. Even if your tenants pay their own utilities, pay proper attention to this matter because excessively high utility bills will cause you to lose tenants.
Flush Your Water Heater
Once or twice a year, you should drain your water heaters. This is done to remove the sediment that can build up in your unit from the municipal water supply that enters your property. If too much sediment builds up, it can reduce the efficiency of your water heater or clog the drain valve. Replacing a water heater is expensive! Be cautious and follow the specific procedures for draining your water heater. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, hire someone who is.
By sacrificing a little time and money now to perform property maintenance, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in the future. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Erin Gleason – About.com Guide. Reprinted with permission of the Wisconsin Apartment Association News.