Power Snakes, Bumper Stoppers, Drywall

“Power snakes can be very dangerous.”

Dear Maintenance Men:

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


Dear Dale:

We understand that almost any excuse is a good reason to buy a power tool! How ever, 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 bath room sink will have a toothpaste and hair stoppage in the trap before the wall. The kitchen sink will typi cally 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 1/4 to 1/2 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 the difference between hitting and clearing 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 that most kitchen stoppages are caused by grease. Your snake will only temporarily clear the stoppage.

Getting a company to “hydro-jet” your drains once a year may help cure your chronic grease stoppages. We recommend doing a mainline drain maintenance just before the holidays each year.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have a parking area at my building with concrete bumper stoppers. The problem is that when the cars touch the stopper, they move.

How do I attach them to the parking lot?


Dear Bill:

If you have an asphalt parking lot, it is quite easy. Most concrete bumper stoppers have two holes that go through from top to bottom. These holes are just the right size to fit a piece of half inch rebar rods. Pick up two 12- to 18-inch pieces of rebar for each stopper. Place the rebar through the holes in the stopper and then use a sledgehammer and pound the rebar into the asphalt.

If your parking area is concrete, use a hammer drill with a 1/2 inch concrete bit to drill a hole in the concrete. Use your existing parking bumper as a guide. Either drill down through the holes in the bumper stop to the concrete below or use powdered chalk poured down through the bumper stop’s holes to mark the concrete. Then drill all the way through the concrete until you hit dirt. Hammer your rebar into the bumper and concrete. If the fit is loose, pour some concrete into the parking lot holes and then insert the rods.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I’m about to start a rehab project in one of my units. Can you give me some tips on drywall repairs? The previous residents were very hard on the walls and I want to learn how to do the repairs. Thanks.


Dear Benjamin:

If there are holes in the drywall, you can use mesh drywall patches (available at any hardware store), and drywall mud to do the rough repair. If the holes are larger than six inches in diameter, cut the damaged area out. Cut out enough material to reach a stud on either side of the repair (typically a square hole is best). Cut a new piece of drywall and nail or screw it into place using the exposed stud on either side.

After completing the rough drywall repairs, comes the finish work. Use wallboard joint compound and joint tape on all seams, nail or screw holes and corners. Joint compound can be found at any hardware store and comes in quart, gallon and five gallon buckets ready mixed. Plan on applying three coats of compound material letting it dry between coats. When doing repairs to joints or cracks, be sure to use wallboard tape to reinforce the joint. The tape comes in paper or fiberglass and will ensure the joint will not crack in the future. Using a ten-inch taping knife, apply a thin layer of joint compound. Then immediately press the joint tape into the compound and use a four-inch taping knife to smooth out the tape and let dry. Again using your ten-inch knife apply another layer of joint compound over the tape and let dry. Finally, apply the finish layer of compound and let dry. Use sandpaper or a wet sanding sponge and sand the joint until it is smooth. After all is dry, texture to match surrounding walls.



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: DearMaintenanceMen@gmail.com

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 Frankie@BuffaloMaintenance.com. For more info please go to: www.BuffaloMaintenance.com. Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker and has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.