Landlord Hank continues his series on maintenance, the No. 1 issue for most landlords and property managers. This week he is focusing on preventative maintenance keeping the bugs and wildlife out, and the air conditioning and heating in.

By Landlord Hank

The exterior of the building-roof, siding, windows, doors, foundation are all about keeping water and bugs and wildlife out, while hopefully keeping heat and air conditioning in.

We touched on roofing last time, exterior cladding below the roof line is easier to check because it’s easier to see.

When I walk around the building I’m looking to see that my vinyl siding, wood siding, stucco, brick, hardie board, etc. is in place with no missing pieces. I am looking for:

  • Cracks in the siding
  • That joints like mortar in brick walls are intact
  • That stucco isn’t cracked or flaking off
  • Wood or vinyl siding isn’t broken or cracked

If you see something that needs repair, take care of it or water or bugs will get in and damage your property causing a small repair to become a larger one.

Windows and screens preventative maintenance

Check your windows too for cracks in the glass and that the seal around the window is tight.

Screens too get brittle with age and tear and rip. Both Home Depot and Lowe’s will make replacement screens. Take the damaged screen with you rather than rely on your measurements. Let the folks making your screens measure for themselves.

Check your foundation for cracks and any insect trails.

You could see ants coming into your house from the ground or nearby vegetation.

Make sure you protect against termites too, so look for termite tubes or tunnels termites build to travel in.

When you are doing the repairs, or having them done, make sure the proper materials are used.

For instance, there are now specialty stucco caulk products for filling minor cracks and this product will outlast other caulk.

Tree and plant maintenance

As you walk around your property scanning, also look for any clinging vegetation or plants growing close to the house that you didn’t purposely plant there.

If you see a pine tree starting to grow in your flower bed, you can pluck it from the ground easily as it begins to grow. Later when you realize this tree is going to damage your foundation you’ll need a chain saw to take care of this oversite.

Also, check your landscaping with a critical eye.

Any trees leaning toward your property that could fall on it? Driveways, walkways and parking lots in good condition?

Keys to indoor preventative maintenance

Now, let’s move indoors.

I stroll through the property looking up first when entering a room.

I am looking for:

  • Water stains from roof leaks
  • Any flickering lights
  • Ceiling fans that are wobbling too much on high speed

Next I look at the rest of the room.

I want to do this evaluation with quiet and no distractions. I want to use all my senses.

  • Do I smell anything untoward?
  • Musty, mildew-mold odors or sewage smells in bathrooms?
  • Do I hear anything like a toilet running or flushing by itself?
  • A chirping smoke detector?
  • Wind whistling through a window that is closed?
  • A noisy air handler?
  • Do I feel anything? Is flooring level and solid? Any vibrations?

I spend the greatest amount of time, which is really very little, checking bathrooms and kitchens for water leaks.

I look under sinks for signs of staining on the cabinet floor. Also I feel pipes for moisture. Be sure to turn the water on and make sure drains don’t leak and that faucets aren’t dripping.

Look in toilet bowls for any sign of water movement. Water could be seeping into the bowl from an old flapper which is a $3 fix.

Is the water level in the toilet tank too high? Is water running down the overflow tube which is a big waste.

Hank’s maintenance tip on using braided steel

Maintenance for your rental property from Landlord Hank

Braided steel plumbing

I want my water supply lines to sinks, toilets and washers to be braided steel so there is less chance of a rupture.

Many folks have cheap rubber supply lines to washing machines. If you do, you are just waiting for a flood to happen here.

The idea is not to drive yourself crazy by checking on your property every week. But when you are there, why not take a few minutes and possibly save yourself a huge headache?

Also, know you are covered by insurance for any damage that occurs so you can rest easy.

About the author:

“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. “ Visit Hank’s website here.

Photo credit top by Elenathewise and photo credit bottom by Anmbph via istock.