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Common Maintenance Emergencies For Multifamily Properties Winston Rowe & Associates
Investing in and prioritizing preventative maintenance strategies can lower risk of plumbing and utility emergencies for multifamily investors.
By: Winston Rowe & Associates
1 Flooded Basement or Ground Floor:
Generally caused by piping failures or harsh weather, indoor floods are just as dangerous as they are inconvenient.
Flood water cause major health complications, these range from being exposed to sewage, inviting mosquitoes and parasites, and kick starting toxic mold growth.
Get started with clean-up and repair efforts as quickly as possible, especially to salvage materials and avoid thousands of dollars worth of damage.
If the cause of the flood can be easily identified as a burst pipe, the water supply must be immediately turned off. If the flood has reached exposed outlets, plugs, and wires, it's then important to turn off power and contact a professional for the assessment of whether the area presents a serious electrical hazard.
Pumps, wet-dry vacuums and eventually fans and dehumidifiers can be helpful with drying out the space once the majority of the water has been drained.
If the flooding is unrelated to burst piping, it's adequate to contact a professional for the assessment of whether the flood water is dangerous/toxic, and proceed with water removal and repair. Consult a second expert contractor regarding how floods can be prevented in your particular case (adding insulation, creating barriers, reconfiguring basements, etc.)
2 Bursting Pipes:
A frozen pipe that bursts means water can find its way inside a property.
In case of a burst pipe, immediately turn off the water supply. If the space is flooded, it's appropriate to proceed as described above, with initial safety checks followed by water and furniture removal.
It's then fundamental to contact a professional plumber for the repair of the burst section, but also for a consultation regarding how it would be best for your case to prevent burst pipes in the future.
3 Water Heater Bursts:
A burst water heater will try to continue re-filling, causing water to continue on spilling and flooding the space.
First, if the heater is electric shut off the breaker to power it down. Gas heaters need to be shut off by utilizing the proper valve.
It's best to then call the manufacturer of the appliance and your insurance company to resolve how to repair or replace the heater, and whether any items are protected under your insurance package.
4 Pilot Light Shutting Off:
A tenant waking up in a house or apartment without hot water is a particularly uncomfortable experience.
A water heater or furnace without an active pilot light is likely what is causing the problem.
Fortunately, some appliances feature ignition buttons for easily relighting the pilot light. But, this must be done safely. The gas supply needs to be cut off and the area around the appliance needs to be allowed to be properly ventilated.
If you smell the characteristic "rotten egg" scent of natural gas lingering in the space and the smell persists for longer than an hour, leave the property and call the utility company.
You need a professional to check whether there is a gas leak or any gas-related hazard, investigate the issue, and determine whether other parts of the system should be addressed and replaced.
5 Junction box and Electrical Fires:
Old or incorrectly set-up wiring can be responsible for sparking dangerous electrical fires.
While junction boxes are supposed to help with containing sparks, they are no help if a fire actually catches on.
If smoke or visible flames are spotted, the electricity must be immediately shut off, and the fire department should be alerted.
If flames are burning, it would be adequate to have a Class C or multipurpose fire extinguisher at hand to try and put out the fire as long as it is safe to do so. Following the incident, contact an electrician to check on your property's wiring to determine what caused the issue.
6 Backed-Up Septic Tank:
A backed-up septic tank will overflow
and allow spilled toxic waste to flow near or even into a property.
This is not just disgusting and smelly, but also dangerous and damaging.
Septic waste carries bacteria and disease, and can impregnate and linger into most surfaces it touches upon contact.
The best way to address this issue is to be proactive with clean-up, removing waste as it surfaces and removing – ideally disposing of – any contaminated furniture and objects. Spaces should be disinfected with a bleach solution, and a septic tank specialist should be called immediately to investigate the source of the problem.
7 Roots Growing In Sewer Line:
Tree roots are naturally attracted to the nutrients and moisture that are found within sewer lines.
Roots can easily sense and access pipes that are cracked or damaged by wear and time.
As roots infiltrate the system and grow longer and larger, the line can be completely burst or become backed-up, which becomes visible by above-ground or in-home resurfacing of sewage.
If waste floods a space, proceed as outlined in the "backed-up septic tank" scenario.
In these situation, it is best to contact a professional to arrange the removal of the tree completely, and it is fundamental to try and avoid planting trees within 10 feet of a sewage line, or implement an underground barrier system to protect pipes.
Winston Rowe & Associates published this article, they are national commercial real estate financiers and publishers of Free eBooks.
You can contact them at 248-246-2243 or visit them online at http://www.winstonrowe.com