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Don’t Ignore These 8 Preventive Maintenance Tasks

Save money in the long run by preventing problems up front

Every landlord has experienced that call. Something in your rental has malfunctioned or broken or leaked and the repairs are going to be pretty expensive. Never a fun call. Preventing unexpected maintenance issues from becoming major problems is as two-part process. Part I: Budgeting for unexpected problems An important part of the rental business is a maintenance budget. There are many ways to budget for maintenance, but a good rule of thumb is 1.5 times monthly rent OR 2% of property value. If you build this amount in reserve, you will be covered when problems come up. Part II: Keeping up with preventive maintenance

  1. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are doing their job – its easy for gutters to clog with leaves and debris or become sagged or bent from falling limbs, snow, or loose attachments. The resulting overflow can cause leaking into the basement or crawlspace, crumbling or porous foundations, or mold. Wet and rotting wood can provide a nice home for termites or other pests. Help avoid major problems and potential damage to personal property by directing water away from the foundation.

  2. Check out your deck and other exterior wooden items – staining or coating the old wood can often add years of life, reducing replacement costs and preventing accidents.

  3. De-lint interior dryer ducts and vents and inspect the dryer evacuation vent to be sure they are clear. Also make sure the exterior vent has a flap to repel critters from making nests in the warm and cozy dryer duct. According to FEMA, 2900 dryer fires are reported each year and blocked ducts are the leading cause.

  4. Maintain your septic system – if you are on city septic, this task does not apply to you. Those with home septic systems, this is important. It’s recommended to have your septic system pumped every 2 to 4 years to prevent solids from building up in the overflow field. With nowhere to go, the sewage can then begin to back up in your home. By the time this happens, you may be looking at a whole new septic field in addition to some nasty cleanup bills.

  5. Have your furnace and HVAC inspected and cleaned at least every other year. The technician will check for proper functioning and optimized heating/cooling, and clean out operational debris. This can help avoid carbon monoxide problems and keep heating and cooling costs down. It can also help prevent that expensive Christmas Eve or July 4th service visit.

  6. If you have a working gas or wood fireplace, have the chimney cleaned and inspected once a year, depending on how often it is used, to prevent chimney fires, chimney damage, and carbon monoxide problems.

  7. After a cold winter, inspect your walkways and driveways for cracks or pits. Often these can be filled or covered with an appropriate coating to prevent them from becoming bigger problems down the road.

  8. Take a walk around - just looking over the exterior and interior of your property may reveal minor issues that can be fixed at lower cost now to prevent a larger bill later.


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