Common Maintenance Issues: DIY or Call in a Pro?

You have a lot on your plate as a landlord, including handling common maintenance issues. You want to maximize your profits on the rental income coming in, so you don't necessarily want to call in a professional contractor every time something goes wrong. However, understanding the difference between maintenance issues that need a pro and those you can handle yourself helps keep your tenants happy and your property in good repair.

HVAC
Your HVAC system is one of the most expensive components in your rental property, so you want to keep it running as long as possible. Certain preventative maintenance measures, such as replacing filters, are something you can handle on a DIY basis. However, if the furnace fails to light the pilot or the central air conditioning stops keeping the house cool, you want to call in a professional contractor to take a look at it. Replacement or installation is also a job for professional contractors.

Plumbing
Some plumbing problems are common and easy to fix. For example, clogged drains don't require much in the way of assistance. Drano handles tough clogs and a snake or similar tool can pull out hair and similar debris that gets washed down the drain. Many local home improvement stores allow customers to rent out snaking equipment for the day, so you won't have to purchase a piece of equipment. If there is a clog stuck in an inconvenient bend in the pipe, it generally isn't a difficult problem to isolate that section and remove the clog manually. Other DIY maintenance issues related to plumbing include adjusting the water pressure and switching out faucets and shower heads. Slightly more intensive jobs that don't require particularly specialized skills include installing a new sink.

If you have unexplained water leaks, poorly functioning toilets, or can't figure out what's going on with your washer's water intake, it's time to call in a professional. Water damage has long-lasting impact on your rental property in several ways, such as increasing the risk of mold growth and wood rot. You want to bring in a professional for major plumbing issues before the water becomes a long-term problem.

Electrical
Basic electrical work such as changing outlet covers and light bulbs is standard for a landlord, but you don't want to do anything yourself that's directly dealing with the electrical system. In some cases, local building codes have a requirement for a licensed contractor to do electrical repairs. Outside of that, you don't want to risk injury or fire by improperly handling these issues.

Household Repairs
Minor household repairs such as fixing holes in the walls, tightening up a door hinge, and touching up the wall paint make sense to do on a DIY basis.

However, you do not want to do major household repairs such as attempt to fix major structural damage or a leaky roof that may require some new shingles. It's likely that you'll run into the same problem as you do with electrical issues: local building codes may require a licensed professional to handle these situations. You also don't want to spend additional money renting or buying tools you don't already own, so in the long run it's less expensive to go with the professional.

POSTED April 29 2015 1:15 PM
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