Maintenance (9)

Category: Maintenance

Cleaning without scratching!

Dear Maintenance Men:

How do I get a fiberglass tub clean without scratching the surface?

John

Dear John:

The nice thing about fiberglass tubs and showers is that no matter how dirty they get, they are fairly easy to clean up. Be careful not to use any abrasives on the fiberglass, such as scouring pads, steel wool, or gritty cleaning solutions. “Soft Scrub” may be used sparingly on soap scum buildup. “Lime-Away” may be used for hard water mineral deposits, but read the directions and look for the fiberglass warning or approval statement. If you have very tough stains, moisten a cloth with clean Acetone solvent or nail polish remover. Do not let the Acetone pool as it may soften the fiberglass material. Acetone and many other cleaners have very strong vapors, so it is important to ventilate the area properly. After all the cleaning is done, the fiberglass surface may be dull. Use a fiberglass conditioner and glossing paste to bring the tub or shower back to its original condition. You can use a product called “Gel Gloss” to bring back the shine. 

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. http://buffalomaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance
Safe Installation

Dear Maintenance Men:

One of my residents is requesting a grab bar for the shower/tub. What do I need to get and how do I install it safely?

Bob

Dear Bob:

This is a subject that is surfacing more and more as our residents are getting older. The use of handrails and safety bars helps provide stability and extra support required by the elderly and people with limited mobility. Shower and bathroom safety grab bars are available in a wide variety of configurations, colors, and finishes. The most common is the stainless steel or chrome finish.

Installation of grab bars must be done securely. The bars must be able to support a dead weight pull of 250 pounds. The preferred method is to bolt directly into the wall studs. This is not always practical, as the stud might not line up where they are needed. Grab bars can be mounted vertically or at an angle to match wall stud spacing. Horizontal installation can be difficult because stud spacing and bar size do not always match. If finding studs becomes a problem, alternate installation methods are available. If your walls are in good condition and have not been compromised by water intrusion, you may use large toggle bolts or if you have access to the backside of the shower or bath walls, insert a backer plate or add a new stud for an anchor point. Safety grab bars can be found at any local hardware store. 

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. http://buffalomaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance
Not so hot

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have a multi-unit apartment building with a 100-gallon water heater that serves all the residents. The problem is that only the nearest units to the water heater gets any hot water. The units at the other end of the building only get cold water or it takes a long time to get hot water. . The heater seems to be working and producing hot water. How do I solve this dilemma?

David

Dear David:

Sounds like your circulation pump is not working properly. Calcium or hard water deposits in the water heater and lines may also aggravate this problem. The circulation pump’s job is to bring hot water to all the units at the same time. When the pump is not working or is clogged, the hot water will take much longer to get to the units furthest away from the heater. The first step is to determine if the pump is working. Locate the pump near the water heater, check that the motor is plugged into an electrical outlet. Next, touch the water lines on either side of the pump and determine the temperature. If it is working properly, the lines should be warm or cool to the touch, not hot. If the pipes are hot or very hot to the touch, the pump is not working properly. If the pump does not spin when plugged in, it may need to be replaced. If the pump motor is working, the pump may be clogged with debris. Remove the pump and clear out the lines. Take care to clean the line from the pump to the water heater. This is generally the problem. While you have things apart, this is a good time to clean out the calcium deposits in the water heater. These deposits may have caused the clog in the first place. Water heater clean outs should be done at least once a year depending on how hard you’re your incoming water is. Check with your water departments, to determine the hardness of the water in your area. If the calcium buildup continues to be a problem; consider adding a water softener to your system. 

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. http://buffalomaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance
Step-By-Step Walk Through

Dear Maintenance Men:

I need to replace a dishwasher and I am a little intimidated by the process. Can you walk me through the installation procedure?

Mac

Dear Mac:

The installation of a dishwasher is not as complicated as it looks. Turn off the electricity leading to the machine. Turn off the water at the main shut-off. If your dishwasher site is not pre-plumbed with a separate water valve, remove the existing hot water angle stop valve under the sink and install a double-threaded angle stop/shutoff valve under the kitchen sink. Use a stainless steel braided flex water line to hook up to the dishwasher. You may need to buy a fitting to screw into your dishwasher to accept the hose. Most new machines don’t come with the fitting or remove the existing fitting from the old dishwasher. Next, connect the drain line from the dishwasher pump motor outlet to the garbage disposer inlet. (Don’t forget to remove the “knock-out” in the garbage disposal inlet.) It is important to install an “Air Gap” between the dishwasher and the garbage disposal. The air gap is installed next to the faucet and stops the water from draining back into the dishwasher by siphon action. If you are unable to install a true air gap device, loop your drain line over the dishwasher before hooking up to the garbage disposal. Both methods will prevent debris from sucking back into the machine. Look for the small electrical box under the dishwasher, remove the cover and pull out the wires. Connect your wires or pigtail to the machine (A “PigTail” is a wire with a plug on one end and bare wires on the other end). Be sure to hook up the Green ground wire for safety. Carefully push your machine under the counter. Once in place, adjust the legs by turning them in or out to level the machine. There should be two tabs at the front top of the dishwasher, use these to secure the machine to the countertop with screws. Now turn on your water and electricity and test your dishwasher and check for leaks. 

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. http://buffalomaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance

Materials and Design

Dear Maintenance Men:

I am starting my planning for a major kitchen cabinet remodeling project in my rental units. However, I am having a difficult time making material and design decisions. What recommendations can you give?

Allen.



Dear Allen,

When doing a kitchen or bath material selection, cohesive and functional design is important. Kitchen and bath rehabs are some of the most expensive work you can do in an apartment unit and proper planning is a must. In order to appeal to a larger segment of the population, try to keep the interior color scheme to neutral earth tones. Cabinetry quality varies greatly. Don’t let the cabinet fronts fool you. Manufactures designed their cabinets to look good at first glance. Keep in mind, being in a rental environment, the cabinets also need to hold up to abuse. Look at the actual construction of the cabinet box or frame. Keep in mind; you do not need to use custom cabinets to fit your existing layout. The use of prefabricated modular cabinetry can greatly reduce the time and cost to have a finished kitchen or bathroom. Using real wood cabinet fronts with 3/8” plywood sides is essential for durability. The drawer fronts and sides should be connected with a dovetail or other positive lock construction. Drawers that are held together by nails or cabinets built with particle board will not hold up to tenant abuse.

On a side note; if you are gutting the kitchen or bathroom, use this time to relocate and add more electrical outlets and under cabinet lighting.  

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. www.BuffaloMaintenance.com 

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance
Is buying one a good idea?

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have an opportunity to buy a small power snake for cleaning out kitchen & bathroom drains. At the rate my tenants block their drains it should pay for its self in no time. Is this a good idea?

Dale

Dear Dale:

We understand that almost any excuse is a good reason to buy a power tool. However, most bathroom and kitchen drains can be cleared with a three-foot hand snake. The tub or shower will typically have a hair stoppage just past the tub shoe and the bathroom sink will have a toothpaste and hair stoppage in the trap before the wall. The kitchen sink will typically be stopped on the garbage disposal side because of improper usage of the disposer. If both sides of the kitchen sink are blocked, then it may be necessary to use the power snake.

Power snakes can be very dangerous. Most operate with a ¼ to ½ horse motor, which packs quite a punch, especially if your finger or arm gets caught! If you buy this snake, we highly recommend that you get some training on your machine. Power drain cleaning is very much an “art” when done well. Knowing when you hit the stoppage and when the snake is snagged comes with experience. A broken snake cable in your drain system will be far more expensive than simply calling an experienced plumber when needed. Another thought is; most kitchen stoppages are caused by grease. Your snake will only temporarily clear the stoppage. Getting a company to “Hydro-Jet” your drains every year may help cure your chronic grease stoppages.  

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. http://buffalomaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance
Runs every 10 – 20 minutes

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have a toilet that runs every ten or twenty minutes. I have replaced the fill valve, the flapper valve and I have even scrubbed under the rim! In other words, all the items I can think of that are replaceable in the tank are new. What else should I be looking at?

Sam

Dear Sam:

You replaced all the easy ones!! When all else fails on a toilet leak-down issue; it is time to put on your rubber gloves and get an adjustable wrench. Chances are the problem lies with the Flush Valve Seat. The rubber flapper valve seals against the flush valve seat (the big hole at the bottom of the tank.) to either keep the water in the tank or let the water out of the tank. The seat may have a burr, crack, or calcium deposits that allow a small amount of water to seep past the rubber flush valve. Sanding the seat to remove the burr or calcium deposit is a short-term solution and rarely solves the problem for long. A permanent solution is to replace the flush valve. Start by turning off the water supply, completely empty the tank and remove the waterline. Remove the two or three bolts holding the tank to the toilet bowl. Turn the tank upside down and remove the large nylon or brass nut that holds the flush valve to the tank. Install the new flush valve. Be sure the tank bottom is clean and no debris gets between the new valve’s rubber gasket and the tank. Tighten the large nut on the outside of the tank and you are ready to reassemble the tank and bowl and put the toilet back into action. When reassembling the tank to the bowl, install new rubber washers and bolts.   

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. http://buffalomaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance
Where to use them

Dear Maintenance Men:

I need to do some caulking in my apartment building both inside and outside the units. I need some advice. The hardware store carries a large number of caulk types and I don’t know what to buy!!! Can you help explain the different types of caulk and where to use them?

Frank

Dear Frank:

We understand! It can be confusing. Let us try to break down the most common of caulk types and when and where to use them.

1: Acrylic Latex caulk (painter’s caulk): Inexpensive, easy to use, water cleanup. Not for use in damp locations such as bathroom or kitchen or outdoors. Designed to be painted over.

2: Vinyl Latex caulk: Easy to use, water cleanup, and can be used outside. Not very flexible; use in expansion joints is not recommended.

3: Acrylic Tile Sealant: Easy to use, water cleanup. The sealant is perfect for bathrooms and kitchens and other wet locations. It is mold and mildew-resistant. Paintable.

4: Siliconized Acrylic Sealant: Easy to use, soap and water or solvent cleanup. Perfect for porcelain tile, metal, and glass. Similar to Acrylic Tile Sealant, but tougher and longer-lasting.

5: Pure Silicon: Best for non-porous surfaces. Long-lasting, indoor/outdoor caulk. Super flexible and strong. Harder to use than any of the above caulks. Solvent clean up. Mold and mildew resistance. Could smell until cured.

6: Butyl Rubber: Best use is outdoors. Messy to use. Perfect for sealing roofs, valleys, gutters, flashing, and foundations. Moisture and movement are tolerant. Sticks to anything. Cleanup with solvents.

7: Elastomeric Latex Caulk: Water cleanup. Longest lasting caulk. Great adhesion to almost all surfaces and can stretch close to 200%. Elastomeric caulk is very tolerant to wide temperature and weather extremes. It is most often used outdoors. This caulk can bridge gaps up to 2 inches wide and deep. The caulk dries very quickly; tool the caulk immediately after application. 

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. www.BuffaloMaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988

Category: Maintenance

How to make it last!

Dear Maintenance Men:

I just replaced a water heater and boy are they expensive! What are some tried and true ways to extend the life of a water heater or recommended preventive maintenance tips? Since I’m starting with a new heater I want to make this one last as long as I can.

Fred

Dear Fred:

There are a number of things you can do to extend the life of a water heater, be it gas, electric, new or old. At least once a year, plan on flushing the tank to remove calcium deposits. First, shut off the gas or breaker, let the water cool. Drain the tank and flush with a steady stream of water from the cold water inlet and let the water and debris drain from the drain valve until the water runs clear. If you have a 100 gallon or larger tank, use the clean-out port to remove the calcium deposits. Removing the deposits keeps your water heater from working overtime. The more deposits in the tank, the harder the burner needs to work to keep the water hot.

Equally important is checking the “Anode Rod”. The anode rod is a long sacrificial zinc or magnesium rod that protects the metal tank from corrosion. This rod should be checked yearly and replaced every 3 to 5 years. The rod can be found at the top of the tank and is held in place by a hex bolt head. To check the rod, turn off the water supply and let the water cool. With a wrench, turn the hex bolt at the top of the tank and lift the rod out. If the rod is smooth and white in color, it is fine and can be reinserted ready to be inspected again in a years’ time. If the rod is corroded, brown, or looks like a rusted nail or missing altogether; it is time to replace it. (Actually, it is well past time to replace it.) A new anode rod can be found at any plumbing supply house. If you have a low ceiling above the water tank, ask for a flexible rod to ease the installation. Smear Teflon pipe thread sealant on the threads of the new rod before you install it. Don’t use tape, since it can reduce the effectiveness of the rod. Keep in mind that replacing the anode rod on a regular basis (every 3 to 5 years) could easily double the life of your water heater.  

Frank Alvarez Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. http://buffalomaintenance.com

Jerry L’Ecuyer Real Estate Broker involved with apartments since 1988