The basic rule of thumb that is followed is "If you break it, clog it, or don't maintain it, then it's something you need to fix". If it breaks on it's own then the owner takes care of it. An example of what the owner would handle would be if the water heater started leaking, or the a/c stopped working because the compressor needed replacing. In other words, items that the tenant couldn't possibly be involved with... like repairing a leaky roof.
Also, keep in mind that during the summer especially, and at times during the winter, when your heating or air conditioning is out, so is everyone else's. It is not unusual for a/c repair men to be booked solid a week in advance. There might be a delay in making the repair.
Everything else is pretty much up to the tenant to keep working. Below are some common problems and their remedies. Remember, if you call for a repair and there really wasn't anything wrong, then you will be paying for the service call. You will also be paying for the service call if you are not present at the appointed time to let a tech fix the problem.
Electrical Light or Outlet(s) not working. Usually this is caused by a breaker switch having been overloaded and tripped off. There are two areas to check. First the breaker box panel which is normally on the outside of the building, but could also be in a garage or tucked away in the back of a closet. First look to see if any of the switches have slightly moved away from the totally "on" position. If you see one that is, take and switch it completely to the "off" position before attempting to move it to the "on" position. Assuming that the breaker holds, this procedure should fix the problem.
A second type of breaker is found in areas of the home where there is water, usually in the kitchen or bathroom, but also in the garage. They are GFI breaker plugs and they control a wider area of plugs than just the spot they are located at. Consequently you could have a plug or plugs go out in a bathroom and it is a GFI breaker plug in a garage that has tripped. Find the culprit plug and push the "reset" button which is located in the middle of the plug. That should reset the power to the problem area.
Garbage Disposal - Your garbage disposal has gotten jammed, or is making a humming noise but not grinding. Usually something has gotten lodged along the inside wall of the disposal that is preventing them from working. On most models there is a "Reset" button on the bottom of the disposal. Make sure that it is pushed in and try the disposal again. If it didn't help the next step is to manually dislodge the interior grinding mechanism. This is done by inserting an allen wrench into the bottom of the disposal and twisting/cranking the wrench to get the mechanism freed up.
Leaking Pipes/Water Heater - The first thing to do is get the water shut off. Every sink, toilet, water heater has a shut off valve next to the wall where the water is entering the apparatus from. TURN THE WATER OFF. Get towels or a mop and get the water soaked up. Do not let the water ruin carpet, walls, flooring etc. Call us immediately so we can get someone out to fix, repair, or complete clean-up.
Clogs - If the clog is caused by normal use, then you need to call a plumber and deal with it. On rare occasion there might be old tree roots that have infiltrated the plumbing lines. In that case, it would be the owners responsibility to keep the pipes open.
Dishwashers - Many people are not in the habit of using a dishwasher... they like to do dishes by hand. That is well and good except that dishwashers have seals that can dry out and crack if the dishwashers are not used. Consequently, if you prefer to do dishes by hand, then you will need to run a cycle through the dishwasher once a week to keep the seals from leaking. Otherwise, when they dry out, you'll have a repair bill to deal with.
Other Maintenance Issues - Below is a list of common household items that can be used to clean and maintain the property.
- Remove grass and dye stains with rubbing alcohol instead of spot remover.
- Use aluminum foil around doorknobs when painting to avoid drips.
- Remove old wax from a floor before re-waxing by mopping with a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol.
- Remove rust spots from car bumpers by rubbing with crumpled aluminum foil dipped in cola.
- To save cleanup time on a paint job that will take several days, wrap brushes in foil and pop them in the freezer. Defrost for about 1 hour before getting back to work.
- Use rubbing alcohol as a handy cleaner for the silicone caulking around bathroom tubs. It also shines chrome.
- To prevent staining a carpet when shampooing, place pieces of aluminum foil under the feet of furniture that cannot be moved.
- Wash away baked on grease by first soaking the oven shelves overnight in ammonia. Pour the ammonia into a large, heavy-duty bag, insert the shelves and seal the bag.
- Rub baby oil gently into white rings and spots on wood. It may remove them.
- Clean an oven with ammonia by warming the oven, turn it off, then set a small bowl of ammonia in the closed oven overnight. Wipe off oven walls and floor the next day.
- Equal parts of ammonia and turpentine will take the paint spots out of material, no matter how long the paint has been dry. Saturate the spot several times then wash with warm soap suds.
- To get rid of shower door scum and build-up, apply baby oil on a moist cloth once a week.
- Blot a coffee spill on a rug with baby wipes. This will absorb the coffee without leaving a stain.
- Remove stains from chrome trim on kitchen appliances and faucets with baby oil, applied with a soft cloth. Polish with another clean, soft cloth.
- Tie a large brown paper bag over the head of your dust mop to shake off the dirt and dust inside the house.
- Remove wax from carpets by placing an opened brown paper bag on the problem and moving a warm iron over the spot - QUICKLY. Greasy spots will appear on the bag. Move clean paper area to the spot and continue until nothing appears on the carpet.
- Protect hanging lamps and chandeliers from sanding and painting when you work on the ceiling. Release the cover plate that is screwed into the ceiling and let it slide down the chain. Pull a dry cleaners plastic bag up over the entire unit and tie it as high up on the chain as possible.
- Baking soda is a non-abrasive cleanser. Use it without worry on porcelain appliances, stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron.
- Keep your refrigerator smelling fresh by storing an open box of baking soda on a rear shelf.
- When you're painting, keep a couple of plastic sandwich bags handy to slip on your hands if the telephone rings or someone comes to the door. You can also put them over kitchen faucets.
- When you drop an egg, use a basting syringe to suck it up.
- Sprinkle dry baking soda on the carpet to deodorize, then wait an hour or more and vacuum. Especially good for absorbing and deodorizing pet wet spots.
- Keep a box of baking soda handy in the kitchen to extinguish a small grease or electrical fire, but not for deep fat fryer fires.
- Use a basting syringe to transfer varnish or paint to a smaller container that is easier to work from. Then clear the basting syringe by pumping mineral spirits, thinner, or water through it a few times.
- Keep drains open by pouring down half a box of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar. After the bubbling action subsides, flush with hot water.
- To remove stains from countertops or butcher block, soak a white dishcloth with bleach, laying it over the stain for 10-15 minutes before rinsing clean.
- To remove black scuff marks from the floor, rub them with a paste of baking soda and water. Use as little water as possible.
- Clean fiberglass showers and tubs with baking soda sprinkled on a sponge. Sponge clean and wipe dry.
- Pour a cup of bleach into a stained toilet bowl and let it sit anywhere from two hours to a couple of days. Scrub and flush.
- Place 12-inch round carpet scraps under plants on the floor to catch over-watering excess
- Place a narrow piece of carpet on the floor between your washer and dryer. When something falls, pull out the strip and the article comes with it.
- To scrub off mildew in grout use a stiff brush and a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to 1 quart of water.
- Muffle the noise of typewriters, tv's, sewing machines, stereos, and other appliances by cutting pieces of carpet to fit under them.
- To prevent black marks on vinyl floors caused by chairs being pulled in and out from a table, glue small circles of carpet remnants to the tips of the chair legs.
- Clean screens by brushing them with carpet scraps attached to a wooden block.
- If you risk hitting the garage wall when you open the car door, protect the wall and your door by tacking up some carpet scraps on the wall.
- Wipe windows and mirrors with lint free coffee filters
- Dull Metal objects begin to gleam when you rub them with cork.
- Soak cotton balls with bleach and put them in discolored or mildewed corners of tiled bathroom areas. Let sit for a few hours removing and rinsing the areas.
- Pour a little vanilla on a cotton ball and place it in the refrigerator to eliminate odors.
- Use fabric softener sheets to clean bathtub rings and shower doors. The soap residue dissolves away.
- Instead of scrubbing shower doors, apply full-strength liquid fabric softener to a clean, moistened cloth and wipe.
- Add a little fabric softer to the final rinse of your paintbrushes to keep them soft and pliable.
- To check for stopper-ball or stopper-valve leaks in a toilet, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank and, without flushing, look for colored water coming into the bowl. If you see it, you can assume there is a leak.
- Wear old cotton gloves or socks, dampened, to clean blind slats.
- Remove crayon marks by using the hair dryer on it, set on "hot," until the wax heats up. The crayon will wipe off with a damp cloth and a small amount of oil soap cleanser.
- Make a paint holder from a coat hanger to keep your hands free when painting while on a ladder.
- Punch a few holes in an old hose to make a lawn soaker
- Remove candle wax on wood surfaces by first hardening the wax with an ice cube, then removing it gently with a table knife or spatula.
- To remove indentations in carpeting caused by furniture legs, place a single ice cube in the indentation. As it melts, the moisture will go into the fibers and plump them up.
- To remove gum, press ice cubes against it until it becomes brittle and breaks off.
- Use lemon juice to remove ink spots on cloth.
- Cut a lemon in half and use it with a little salt sprinkled on it to clean brass, copper, and stainless steal.
- Rub sticking drawers and windows with soap to make them open more easily.
- Protect floors when moving heavy furniture by slipping an old sock over each leg
- To remove a broken light bulb first unplug or turn off the light. Then press a thick, dry sponge onto the jagged bulb base and twist gently.
- Use steel wool to gently rub crayon marks from wallpaper.
- Catch unreachable cobwebs by wrapping a tennis ball in a dust rag and tossing it into the cobwebbed corner.
- Hang a tennis ball on a string from the garage ceiling so it will hit the windshield first at the spot where you want your car parked.