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Maintenance DIY: Landscaping and Ongoing Maintenance

Maintenance DIY: Landscaping and Ongoing Maintenance
July 2021

Q: Should I check smoke alarm batteries in my units or is that the residents’ job? Also, how often should I clean out my water heaters, not to mention A/C filters and so on?

A: 1. Most leases have a checkbox that says the resident is responsible for the operation of the smoke alarm. The newest leases now have a checkbox for carbon monoxide alarms. We lay awake at night thinking about that little checkbox. In order to sleep, we check the residents’ smoke and CO alarms every time we do maintenance on the unit. We keep a log of each time we check and what action was taken. The smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be “officially” checked and logged at least once a year. Typically, January is a good month for the annual check.

 2. A typical 100-gallon water heater, depending on the BTU rating, will cost anywhere from $4,700 to more than $6,500 installed. That cost alone should be incentive to regularly clean out the heater. Normally, the cleaning should be done at least once a year. If the water at your property has a high mineral content, then it should be cleaned out every nine months. Again, keep a log of each clean out; it will help in remembering when to do the next cleaning.

3. If your property has forced air and heating, the filter should be checked, cleaned or replaced each October or November and each May or June. This will help keep your systems properly working and reduce strain on the components. It will also ensure proper filtration before the winter and summer workloads.  

4. Cleaning out the exhaust vent tubes of the laundry room dryer, the lines that lead out of the back of the equipment. Lint in these tubes has been known to be a fire hazard, and keeping the exhaust vent tubes clean will help cut down on gas and electric usage, extend the life of the machine and shorten drying times. It should be done at least once a year and again, keep a log of each cleaning for reference. 

Q: What should I expect from my landscapers or gardening service?

A: We have a minimum list of items that must be completed at a property. If these items are skipped or ignored, the property likely will suffer. On a weekly basis, we expect the gardening service to provide the following: 

  1. Cut the grass.
  2. Edge the grass.
  3. Pull out weeds between the side-walk cracks around the building, including alleys.
  4. Turn over the dirt in all the flowerbeds each week.
  5. Pick up any trash around the property.
  6. Broom, blow or hose down the walkways.
  7. Turn on the sprinkler lines, check for clogged heads, broken lines, etc.
  8. Check that the timer is properly set.  
  9. Cut, trim and thin any shrubs or bushes.
  10. Maintain communication with the owner about problems or improvements. 

The to-do list takes time, half-hour minimum at a small property. If your landscape gardener completed the list on a weekly basis, you could very well have the best-looking property on the block! Attractive curb appeal can mean higher rents.

Finding a landscape gardener to do this list consistently is not easy. Ask your local apartment association for recommendations or look in your neighborhood or city for a property with outstanding landscaping and ask who the gardener is. Have them give you a quote according to your “list.” Keep in mind a landscape company or gardener who gives the above service will charge more than a “blow-and-go” gardener; however, your property will reflect their above average service.

Do you have DIY maintenance questions? Send them to [email protected].