Get Proactive with Preventing

March 18, 2015 |

Updated February 22, 2017

2 minutes

Preventative maintenance (PM) is one of those topics that continue to vex all levels of onsite personnel. While many see the benefit and can prove the financial need to perform these tasks, quite frequently they are delayed beyond recommended schedules. 

To prevent a delay, the PM scheduling should be a regular part of the day/week/month time-management cycle. Break the property down by dividing the number of units by nine. This way you can have specific tasks that will need to be completed every month in your buildings while leaving the three busiest months of the year (generally summer) free to keep up with the rush.

For instance: If the property has 200 apartments, 200 divided by nine is 23. Each PM task would need to be completed in a rotating 23 apartments-per-month and still leave the summer untouched. In the case of a task like filter changes that is to be completed quarterly, rotate through 72 apartments each month and the filters will always be on schedule, without having to stop everything else that is happening. 

Here are some suggested basic PM tasks to consider:

  1. Change HVAC filters at least once per quarter.
  2. Test/check smoke detectors at least twice a year.
  3. Flush the water heater at least annually.
  4. Verify drips/leaks (faucet and flapper) in every apartment at least annually.
  5. Clean the outside coils of HVAC equipment as needed.


There are other tasks that are less thorough and can be completed with a little preparation, minimal interruption to our residents and maximum return on the time:

  1. Tighten electrical connections on breaker and neutral/ground bus bar in the breaker panel.
  2. Adjust air flow from vents in apartment to maximize circulation.
  3. Verify basic air flow out of passive exhaust venting on furnace or water heater.
  4. Clean refrigerator coil. 
  5. Flush water heater.
  6. Flush/clean aerators.
  7. Lubricate front door locks and ensure that the front doors close by themselves per fire code.
  8. Clean the HVAC evaporator coil.
  9. Verify the stove anti-tip device is installed and working.


At the very least, these additional items can be performed with a little extra time spent in vacant apartments during the make ready. 

Be sure to document what and when items were completed on the list to cut down on double work.

Paul Rhodes is the National Maintenance and Safety Instructor for NAAEI.