Becoming a landlord is a fantastic way to invest in your future, and buying property is something that many people are choosing to do. The benefits can be enormous, but it can occasionally feel like a double-edged sword.
While your investment is growing steadily in the long game, the day-to-day issues can sometimes feel overwhelming. Many landlords complain that it feels as though things in their rental properties are always breaking, and the worry of mounting costs is a real one.
Handing the job over to contractors can prove expensive, especially when there are fixes required in the kitchen and bathroom. These rooms are more than just functional; they are hubs of activity in most homes and are used to relax, socialize, pamper and bond. Unfortunately, by their very nature, the steam, heat and water present can all cause issues.
Kitchen and bathroom problems can’t be ignored, but we understand that budgets are not bottomless. So, if you want to keep your tenants happy, or attract new ones, these two rooms must be maintained and kept in good working order.
Believe it or not, you can address many of the common problems yourself, and it won’t eat too much into your time or your pocket. We have put this post together to share simple, low-cost DIY fixes for bathrooms and kitchens. Go ahead and bookmark it, because as a landlord you are almost guaranteed to be needing this in the future!
DIY Steps For Fixing A Leaking Faucet
A leaking faucet may seem like a minor issue that you don’t need to rush to address. However, a constant drip, drip, drip can be a major source of irritation for your tenants, not to mention a waste of water. In addition, a leaking faucet can actually cause unsightly damage to your basin or bathtub, leaving it rusted or pitted. That is something that will be far more costly to put right.
When faced with this problem, you should first check that the faucet is completely turned off. The best-case scenario is that this is all it needs! If that doesn’t work, then a fix will be required. But it is something you can manage yourself, with minimal outlay and a couple of tools. Simply follow the steps below.
Identify the type of faucet that you are dealing with. Does it have two handles? For instance, one for hot and one for cold? If so, this is a compression faucet. If you have one spout (a mixer with hot and cold coming through the same ‘pipe’), you will have either a ball faucet or a cartridge faucet.
Next, turn off the water using the shut-off valve, which you will find below the basin. Be sure to turn off the valve that leads to the hot water as well as the one that leads to the cold.
You will need to remove the valve handle, which will probably require an Allen key. Then, with a wrench or pliers, remove the nut that holds the o-ring in place.
Take the cartridge to a hardware or plumbing store to find the correct replacement.
Replace the new cartridge or o-ring, and put everything back together in reverse order.
Be aware that some faucets require a replacement kit, and the manufacturers generally supply detailed instructions with these.
DIY Steps For Fixing Curling Or Ripped Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is often chosen by landlords for kitchens and bathrooms, as it is low-cost to install when compared to tiles, and it is waterproof and hardwearing, flexible, soft and warm to the touch. It comes in a variety of colors, textures, and styles too, which explains why it is so popular.
However, there is a downside to this material, as it can curl up and even tear quite easily. This can look unsightly, and, even worse, can mask a real problem. Tears and curling of the vinyl can allow water to sink beneath it, where it is then trapped and unable to dry. This can result in potentially huge repair bills. The best thing to do here is act quickly to avoid any hidden damage.
- Curlying Vinyl
- A great place to start with repairing curled vinyl is to apply heat to the affected area, using a clothes iron.
- Protect the vinyl with a towel, and then apply heat using steady pressure.
- Pull back the vinyl a few inches, which allows access for you to clean and dry underneath
- Once the area is dry, apply a moderate amount of fresh vinyl adhesive to the area. Too much can cause ripples.
- Re-lay the vinyl back in place and use a heavy object to apply constant pressure to the area, maintaining this for a few hours.
- Once it has dried, you can finish the job by applying a fresh bead of caulk at the joint.
- Torn Vinyl
- For torn vinyl, the repair process is similar: once again cleaning the area beneath the vinyl, re-applying fresh adhesive, and re-laying the patch
- If the ripped area is too damaged, you can purchase a new piece of (hopefully!) matching vinyl.
- Cut and remove the damaged section from the floor, following the design of the vinyl and cut a matching ‘patch’ from the new vinyl.
- Attach the new piece using vinyl adhesive and fill the seams with a bead of caulk.
DIY Steps For Clearing A Clogged Drain
Clogged drains are not pleasant, and this is especially true when you are the landlord dealing with your tenant’s drain. We don’t want to know what is hiding in the pipes and causing water to run away slowly.
Fortunately, the solution can be quick, and it is super cheap. You can have the water draining nicely in a matter of minutes - with no expensive plumber invoices in sight.
- Pour a generous amount of baking soda into the clogged plug area, around 60 grams.
- Then, follow this with approximately 120 mls of white vinegar.
- The combination of the two products causes a reaction, which you will witness as fizzing and bubbling. This should clear the inside of the pipes and have everything running smoothly in no time.
- You can add some lemon juice to banish any bad smells that may be emanating from the drain.
- For bad blockages, leave the solution for an hour or more, and then run boiling hot water down into the drain to clear the whole thing away.
- This solution does not cause damage to the pipes, and it is recommended that you repeat the process every few weeks to maintain your plumbing.
Vinegar and baking soda are far cheaper than unblocking kits and plumbers for sure! This drain unblocking solution could be a landlord’s best friend.
DIY Steps To Banish Mildew And Mold
Mold and mildew can be a constant battle in some bathrooms, due to a combination of high levels of moisture and poor ventilation. As a landlord, you will want to keep on top of mold for a number of reasons. Yes, it is unsightly, and it can smell bad; but it is also a red flag for bigger problems, such as damage to plaster and walls. Most importantly of all, mold spores can be detrimental to the health of your tenants.
As an ongoing solution, it is recommended that affected areas are scrubbed with a solution of 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent, one liter of liquid chlorine bleach, and three liters of warm water, using a bristled brush. This should then be rinsed and dried thoroughly.
If the caulking and grout between tiles is stained too badly to remove the mold by cleaning alone, this will need to be removed, cleaned, and then reapplied.
The best way to prevent mold and mildew from returning is to keep the bathroom well ventilated and as dry as possible. You can advise your tenants to keep the windows open as much as possible while bathing and showering. Wet towels and shower curtains should be allowed to dry properly and not left scrunched up.
It is also advisable to install an extractor fan, which you can do yourself if you follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Repairing A Blocked Shower Head
This is a nice, quick, and inexpensive fix that you can do in minutes, making you the landlord of the year. Clogged shower heads are the result of a build up of limescale, which reduces the water pressure and results in a less pleasant showering experience.
- Once again, vinegar comes to the rescue here. You simply need to unscrew the shower head and first shake out any solid chunks of limescale, which look like pieces of chalk.
- Then, place the shower head in a large container that you have filled with one part vinegar and eight parts boiling water.
- Just leave it in there to soak for as long as possible, then rinse it out with running water and fix it back into place.
DIY Solution For A Blocked Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposal units are often expected to handle all manner of things that we chuck down the sink, and, as a landlord, it is sensible to have a conversation with tenants about the best way to keep theirs in good working order.
With that said, it is generally expected that a blockage will occur at some point. Fortunately, it can be rectified relatively simply, following these steps.
- Turn off the garbage disposal at the switch and check to see if the breaker has been tripped.
- Reset and turn back on to see if the problem clears itself.
- If it is still blocked, turn off the disposal at the wall to remove all power.
- Ladle out as much water and debris as possible using a spoon.
- Then, use baking soda, vinegar and boiling water as per the blocked drain method above.
- You may need to repeat the process a few times, but this should clear the blockage and have the disposal working again.
Fixing A Burn Mark On A Kitchen Countertop
Kitchen surfaces are not cheap, whether you have opted for laminate or wood, and it can be infuriating to see that a tenant has burned a big ring mark into the countertop. But of course, accidents do happen; minds wander or fingers are burned, and we put a pan down on reflex.
Fortunately we have some DIY solutions here that may help to save you from replacing an entire section of your kitchen counter, also saving some of your hard-earned money.
A heavy burn is a difficult one to fix without gouging into the surface, but minor burns can usually be removed.
- Use steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper to lightly scrub the surface of the countertop.
- Then, use an abrasive paste cleaner, or a homemade mixture of baking soda, vinegar and cream of tartar.
- You may need to repeat this a few times.
- If this doesn’t remove the burn, you have the option to refinish the whole countertop with epoxy paint, which would be cheaper than replacing the whole work surface.
- Use steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the countertop.
- You can gradually progress to a coarser-grit sandpaper if necessary.
- Be careful not to mar the surface of the wood. You may need to sand a larger area to ensure that the newly sanded section doesn’t stand out.
- Once the burn has been removed, you will need to re-finish the counter with whatever sealant you had used previously.
DIY Fix For Cabinet Door Hinges
A kitchen can look dilapidated when cabinet doors come loose, but fortunately this is very easy to rectify! This is generally a case of normal wear and tear, since these doors are opened and closed constantly. It can put a great deal of stress on the screws that hold the hinge in place, and eventually result in the screw pulling right out of the hole.
The trick that many landlords have discovered is to slide a matchstick or toothpick into the hole before replacing the hinge and driving the screw straight back in. This is usually enough to provide the screw with the grip that it needs to do its job once again.
Landlord’s Solution To A Leaking Toilet
Not glamorous, but common all the same, is the issue of a leaking toilet. As a homeowner, you should always be on top of leaking water for two main reasons:
- Leaking water causes real (expensive) damage over time if left unchecked.
- Waste water still needs to be paid for!
Leaking toilets are usually caused by a problem with the ‘flapper’ not sealing properly. This is simply the rubber seal which is positioned at the base of the tank. The flapper is the part which is raised when you flush the toilet. It therefore controls the water coming into (and leaking out of) the tank. The good news is that they are cheap and easy to replace!
- As with all issues relating to leaks, start by turning the water off.
- Take the lid off of the toilet tank.
- Flush the toilet and identify the flapper. Once the water has drained, remove the old flapper.
- Make a note of the model of the toilet and any features (such as liters per flush) if this information is readily available.
- Clean away any limescale buildup from the area.
- Purchase a suitable replacement from a plumbing or hardware store (take the old one with you).
- Install the new flapper before turning the water back on and testing the flush again.
Quick Fixes For Bathrooms And Kitchens
With bathrooms and kitchens being so important in any home, there are other small, low-cost things that you can do as a landlord to upgrade these spaces. These will pay dividends, as a happy tenant will make your life so much easier! These are our top three suggestions:
- Add a lick of fresh paint to a feature wall to brighten the space.
- Colorful mats and shower curtains can bring a bathroom to life.
- Add new, funky handles to kitchen cabinets and drawers.
We hope that this article has opened your eyes to the possibility that you can do many low-cost repairs and fixes yourself, leaving you a happy landlord with satisfied tenants!
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