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Dear Maintenance Men:

By Jerry L'Ecuyer & Frank Alvarez

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have installed vinyl floor squares a number of times, but I can’t seem to get it square with the walls.  It always looks like the floor is slightly cocked 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 squares-ness, 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 the kitchen, hallway to the 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:

I have just finished cleaning the gas stove in my rental unit and now the burner will not light.  The pilot light is ok, but the burner will just not light automatically.  What did I do wrong?



Dear Sally:

The burner might be too clean!!  Start at the pilot flame and follow the pilot tube to the burner.  Look at the side of the burner with a bright light where the pilot tube and the burner meet.  You should see small inlet holes that lead up the side of the burner.  These holes may be clogged with soap or other debris.  Use a toothpick or straight pin to clean out the holes.  These tiny holes are used by the pilot flame to climb up the burner assemble and ignite the burner.  Inspect the whole burner assemble and poke out each jet if the flame does not go all the way around the burner when ignited.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have been shopping to replace an air-conditioning unit from one of my apartment units.  The salesmen ask how many “Tons” my old unit was and if I wanted the new one the same size?  Well, I’m sure my old A/C unit could not have weighed more than a couple of hundred pounds.  I don’t understand, what the weight of my air conditioning unit has on its cooling capacity.  And what does the term “Tons” have to do with it?



Dear Fred,

Good Question.  The term “Ton” as referred to in the cooling power of an air conditioner or refrigerator is like many units of measure such as “horsepower” which comes from a bygone era.  Before the days of modern A/Cs and refrigerators, ice was commonly used for cooling.  The term “Ton” came into use when engineers developed standards for measuring mechanical cooling capacity.  One method was the cooling capacity of ice as it related to melting.  The standard was set equating one “Ton” of cooling to the amount of energy needed to melt one ton of ice over a 24-hour period.  One ton of ice equals 2000 pounds.  It takes 12000 BTU per hour to melt one ton of ice in a 24-hour period.  The same power is needed to freeze one ton of water in a 24-hour period.  (BTU stands for British thermal unit, a measurement of heat or energy.)  A one-ton air conditioner would equal a 12000 BTU/hr machine.  Generally, one ton of cooling is needed for every 500 square feet of living space.

WE NEED Maintenance Questions!!!    If you would like to see your maintenance question in the “Dear Maintenance Men:” column, please send in your questions to: 

Feel free to contact Buffalo Maintenance, Inc., at 714-956-8371, for maintenance work or consultation. Frank Alvarez is a licensed contractor and the Operations Director and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. He has been involved with apartment maintenance and construction for over 30 years. Frank can be reached at 714-956-8371 or For more info visit Jerry L'Ecuyer is a licensed contractor and real estate broker. Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.

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