Maintenance Tips

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Before submitting a maintenance request, please review these helpful tips to keep things running smoothly in your unit. Maintaining your residence in good condition can minimize the inconvenience of having maintenance personnel in your unit, and for renters it can also help ensure the full amount of your security deposit is returned to you when you move out.

• Kitchen
• Bathroom
• Heat and Air Conditioning Systems
• Electricity/Power
• Gas
• Carpets and Floor Care
• Roofs
• Common Hallways
• Pests

Kitchen

Appliances:
If any appliance stops working or stops getting power, check the circuit breaker before contacting us.

Common leaks under sinks:
If there is a leak under your sink and if you are mechanically inclined, you may attempt to stop a leak by tightening the plastic or metal nut. There are generally 1-inch plastic or metal nuts that hold the pipe pieces together, and if these nuts are lose they can be the source of a leak. You can tighten them by hand by turning to the right.

A temporary solution for such a leak is to place a bucket, pot or pan under the leak until it can be repaired. If you can do this just until we are able to repair the leak, it can prevent damage to the floor or the cabinet.

Many times large items stored under the kitchen or bathroom sink can knock the pipes loose, so be careful to avoid crowding the pipes with stored items.

Clogged drain:
You can use a combination of vinegar and baking soda, or pots of boiling water to flush out drains. You can also use a plunger to unclog drains. For information about these techniques, search on the internet for “how to clear a clogged drain.” Drano or any other chemical solutions are not recommended, as these can damage pipes and make the clog worse.

Garbage disposal:
A garbage disposal should work for an extended period of time maintenance-free. If you hear the disposal humming but not moving, a foreign object is more than likely jammed in it. Note: If we find bottle caps, glass, silverware, or other foreign objects jammed in the disposal, you as the tenant will be charged for the repair.

NEVER place cooking grease or grease of any kind down the garbage disposal. You should never put anything down the disposal that you would not eat, including chicken or meat bones, apple cores, peach pits, egg shells, banana peels, etc. Fibrous vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower, etc. should also not be put down garbage disposals.

When putting rice, soft vegetables, bread, cereal, crackers, and food scraps into the disposal, turn on the cold water first, then turn on the disposal and feed the scraps slowly into the disposal. If the disposal jams, turn it off and use a butter knife to push the scraps through the drain hole clockwise. You can also try to put ice cubes down a disposal to clean it out.

If the disposal does not turn on at all, check to see if there is a switch that can be flipped on to power the garbage disposal. It often looks like a light switch and may be found right on the disposal unit, or elsewhere under the sink. When the disposal gets overheated from grinding too long, some units shut off automatically. If this happens, give it time to cool down and then try resetting the reset button on the disposal under the sink.

Also check to see if the outlet that the disposal is plugged into can be reset. If so, press the red reset button.

Dishwasher:
Before loading the dishwasher, make sure all dishes are rinsed well. If you leave large pieces of food on the dishes, the pump can wear out and cause the drain to back up. When this happens, a lot of water may pour out onto the floor. Use the directed amount of dishwashing soap. If you use too much it can overflow onto the floor. For a chronic leak, contact us immediately and make sure to wipe up any water from the floor area.

If the dishwasher won’t drain clean any food or debris out from the bottom.

If you can’t get the dishwasher to turn on at all, check to see if there is a reset button that can be flipped on to power the dishwasher. It often looks like a light switch and may be found under the sink.

Ranges and ovens:
Sometimes an oven or burners may not turn on when the clock/timer is in the “off,” “locked,” or “manual” positions. These settings may override operator commands, and may need be adjusted to allow the oven and burners to ignite and work properly. You can search the internet to find out how to “unlock” your specific model.

If you have a gas range, you may find that the burner will not ignite from time to time. This may be caused by grease accumulating in the igniter valve. Be very careful when cooking to avoid grease splatters in and around the burner. If you feel so inclined, you can raise the top of the range and blow into the valve or use a small toothpick in an attempt to clean the valve of grease. Be sure all burners are off if you attempt this.

Never clean a self-cleaning oven with over-the-counter oven cleaners. The chemicals may damage the surface, and you could be charged for the repairs.

Refrigerator:
If it is too warm or too cold inside, adjust the thermostat in the refrigerator.

Icemaker:
In order to turn on the icemaker, you may need to lower the wire shut-off arm on the icemaker to the “on” position. If there is no wire arm, you may need to flip an “on/off” switch to the “on” position.

Bathrooms

Mold prevention:
If there is a fan in the bathroom, be sure to turn it on when showering and leave it on 20 minutes after showering to prevent mold build-up. When possible, open bathroom windows, and open or crack bathroom doors as well.

Shower:
The biggest problems with tubs and showers are hair clogs. Be sure to clear any hair from the area around the drain on a regular basis. You can use a combination of vinegar and baking soda or pots of boiling water to flush out drains. You can also use a plunger to unclog drains. For information about these techniques, you can search the internet for “how to clear a clogged drain.” Drano or any other chemical solutions are not recommended, as these can damage pipes and make the clog worse.

If your showerhead has poor water pressure, you can unscrew it and flush it out under the sink to clean out built-up sediments.

Use a good shower curtain to prevent water damage around the outside of the tub.

If you notice any caulking or grout that is deteriorating around the tub/shower area, please contact us immediately, so that we can minimize water intrusion.

If the shower water isn’t hot enough, and the hot water heater is in your unit, there is often a temperature setting on the hot water heater you can change. Be sure to keep the temperature at a safe level, especially if any children live in the unit.

Toilets:
The main concern with toilets is foreign objects getting stuck in them. The only thing that should be placed in a toilet is toilet tissue. Do not flush feminine products or any other large items down the toilet. No wipes of any kind should be flushed, even if they say flushable on the label. If a stoppage occurs because of these reasons, the tenant will be charged for costs to repair.

If you notice any discoloration in the flooring around the toilet or if it seems to be rocking at the base, the wax seal may be broken or deteriorating and you need to contact us immediately.

If your toilet has a leak, it could be wasting about 200 gallons of water every day. Toilet leaks are very common and are not always seen or heard. An easy way to check for a toilet leak is to place a couple of drops of food coloring (or coffee, soda, tea, etc.) in the tank and if the color shows up in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Please notify us if you have a toilet leak.

Heat and Air Conditioning Systems

If you cannot get your system to start:
1. Check to see if there is a switch that can be flipped to start/power the unit. It often looks like a light switch and is usually found in the furnace room or on the furnace itself.
2. Check the breakers to make sure they are all switched on.
3. Look to see if there is a reset button on any (GFI) power outlets that the furnace unit is plugged into. If so, press the red reset button.

If your furnace is in the unit, and if you have airflow, but very little, check to make sure your filter is clean. It is your responsibility as a tenant to replace or clean filters on a regular basis. This not only keeps the system running efficiently, it will keep your utility bills lower.

Air conditioners have a cooling system identical to a refrigerator. It is important that you not turn the unit off and then turn it back on right away. Wait at least 10 minutes after shutting the system down to allow the pressure in the refrigeration system to equalize once again. Then restart.

Electricity/Power

Complete building or unit power outage:
If all the power in the building or your unit has gone out, contact ComEd 1-800-Edison-1.
If the power outage is in the winter, leave your faucets slightly running to prevent frozen and bursting pipes.

Power in part of the unit and the breaker consistently goes out:
If the power in part of your unit consistently goes out and trips the breaker, you may need to move around any high wattage appliances, spreading them throughout the unit so that they are used by different breakers.

High-wattage items can include:
Hair dryers
Toasters/toaster ovens
Coffeemakers
Window AC units
Space heaters

Gas

If you smell gas:
Make sure all stove burners are completely off. If they are, and you still smell gas, contact People’s Gas immediately, 1-866-556-6002.

Carpets and Floor Care
Dirt, not normal wear and tear, is the single largest contributor to the demise of carpets. Be sure to vacuum on a regular basis.

If you do stain the carpet, work immediately to remove it as much as possible. The longer a stain stays imbedded in the carpet, the harder it will be to remove later. There are many household products that are effective in stain removal, and you can look up many of these products on the internet under “carpet stain removal.” Never clean the carpet without testing a very small portion of your cleaning compound on an out-of-the-way piece of carpet to ensure discoloration will not happen.

Be very careful when moving large objects and furniture across linoleum and hardwood floors. Use a dolly for large appliances and furniture pieces or slide a rag or sock over the legs of furniture when moving across flooring. Never clean hardwood floors with solvents that could damage the finish.

Roofs
If you notice any stains forming on your ceiling or wall area contact us immediately. If a large leak occurs causing a bubbling effect in the ceiling material, make a small puncture in the bubble with a knife and place a bucket under the leak immediately. Never hesitate to call us regarding roof leaks.

Common Hallways
If a hallway lightbulb is out, or if a smoke alarm in the hallway is beeping because of a low battery:
-Condominium building rental residents should contact the building management.
-All other residents, please contact Owl Management.

Pests

General pest prevention:
Keeping your home as clean as possible is the most important way to prevent pests in your residence.
– Sweep or vacuum often, especially after meals and under appliances
or furniture.
– Seal all your food in plastic containers and keep it in closed cabinets or the refrigerator. Monitor your cabinets for any signs of pests.
– Keep a lid tightly closed on your trash and make sure only a human can open
the lid.
– Pet food is attractive to pests, too, so it may help to clean or remove your pet’s food bowl between feedings or at least at night.
– Avoid leaving standing water anywhere, whether in bathtubs, stopped-up sinks, or soaking dishes, as this can attract roaches.

Bed Bugs:
To prevent bed bugs from getting into your unit:
* Hang clothing in the closet farthest from the bed
* When traveling, place luggage on the folding rack found in most hotels
* When traveling, place luggage in the dry cleaning bag found in the hotel.
* Take care when bringing used clothing, furniture or curtains into your unit. Items that can handle it should be washed and dried at high heat before bringing them into the unit.
* Don’t bring home a mattress that has been used by unknown sources.

Please contact us if you have signs of bed bugs.

Ants:
To avoid getting ants, regularly clean your kitchen floors and cabinets, and take out all trash. Ants are generally looking for food, including pet food, or the residue of spilled drinks. Even very small crumbs can attract ants. Be sure to clean up crumbs and spills anywhere in your unit that you eat and drink, including couches, coffee tables, etc.

If you have an ant problem, you can use baby power to stop the ants from coming in or moving farther into the unit, since they cannot move on the powder. Please do not use boric acid powder, as it is a hazardous substance. If an ant problem is substantial or if it persists, please contact us.

A note of caution regarding maintenance and troubleshooting:

While we encourage you to maintain your unit by keeping it clean and using fixtures and appliances according to directions, it is important that you do not attempt to perform a maintenance task that you are not qualified for or capable of doing. Aside from checking the breaker switches, never work with electricity in your unit or building. When in doubt, please contact us to request a repair or ask for advice.