Bees, Counters, Garbage Disposal Noise

“Once they are in the ceiling, it is easy for them to travel to different units…”

Dear Maintenance Men:

My pest control company has removed a beehive from my property. However, the bees have not left and the tenants are complaining about bees inside their units. I have sealed every hole, crevasse and crack I can find. Yet, the bees still find a way of getting into the units. What is missing or are these bees just too smart?


Dear Bert:

We have had a similar problem at one of our properties. We also sealed every thing we could think of and still the bees found a way in. You may want to look at your roof vents that service the bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans. The bees come down the vent and go into the voids between the ceiling and roof. Most fan boxes are not well sealed below the fan blades. Once they are in the ceiling, it is easy for them to travel to different units, find a hole and drop down into the apartment’s living area.

Because the bees may be discovered in an area far from the original entry point, it is hard to track down where they first came in. We now install screening at all bath and kitchen exhaust vent tubes. The material used is 1/8-inch square metal screening and is attached to the top of the vent tube at the roof level. Be sure to extract the hive and any honey you find or you might not only continue to have a bee problem, but an ant problem also.

Dear Maintenance Men:

The kitchen counter tops in my rental units are old and tired looking. I want to upgrade but I am confused about which counter top material will be best. Can you go over the pros and cons of some of the more popular counter top surfaces available?


Dear John,

We are lucky today to have so many choices of countertop materials available. The four most popular materials are plastic laminate, granite, engineered stone and ceramic tile.

Plastic Laminate or better known as Formica Brand is still the most popular choice for apartment counter tops. This is because the choice in colors is almost unlimited and the ease of installation keeps the costs down. With proper care, plastic laminate will last for years; however, it can be easily scratched by knives or scorched by hot pots.

Laminate counter tops can be easily installed by the average handyman, DIY person or contractor.

Granite counter tops in the apartment industry are very popular and with good reason. The cost of granite has come down to reasonable levels and the upgraded look of a granite countertop is substantial. They are very tough and are resistant to staining, scratching and scorching. Granite counter tops will need to be professionally installed and sealed periodically.

Engineered Stone countertops are almost as popular as granite, and are slightly more expensive than granite. Popular brands are DuPont and Silestone. Engineered stone countertops are composed of quartz particles and resins and the surface is smooth, non-porous, and scratch resistant. They require less maintenance than granite. Engineered stone countertops are not DIY friendly and will need professionally trained installers.

Ceramic Tile countertops have been around almost as long as plastic laminate. They can be installed by the average handyman, DIY person or contractor. They are heat and stain resistant. Ceramic tiles do need to have periodic maintenance to keep the grout lines clean and sanitary.

From a management and maintenance perspective, we are finding granite countertops to be the top choice. The price difference between laminate and granite is close enough to warrant upgrading to granite. If you intend to hold onto your investment for a long time, granite will more than pay for itself.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have a garbage disposal that is very loud. When it is running with water, it can be heard across the kitchen and into the living room. It runs perfect and I don’t really want to replace it. What can I do to soundproof the disposal?


Dear Kathleen:

You are in luck. There is a very simple solution. Every garbage disposal unit comes with a rubber drain deflector. When the deflector becomes old, the rubber hardens and stays open to the drain allowing spoons, forks and other items to fall into the drain, but more importantly, it allows sound to escape. Go to your local hardware store and buy a new rubber drain deflector. The disposal noise will almost disappear. Careful, do not forget to turn off the garbage disposal!



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: [email protected]

If you need maintenance work or consultation for your building or project, please feel free 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 Operations Director and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. He has been involved with apartment maintenance and construction for over 20 years. He is also a lecturer and educational instructor for the Apartment Association. Frank can also be reached at [email protected] For more info please go to: Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker and has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.