Annual Pre-emptive Maintenance.
Last week I looked at cheaper alternatives to brand new double glazing. This week I’ll discuss inexpensive jobs you should do at the outset of any new tenancy and annually to avoid expensive repairs later.
For safety reasons, landlords are obliged to carry out gas checks annually, and appliances should be PAT tested. However, cost-wise water is usually the biggest problem. Checking and maintaining any fittings & equipment likely to leak is incredibly cost-effective.
Washing machines should be inspected annually for slow leaks from the hose, door-seal and underneath. Even a slow leak can cause a lot of damage over time, or suddenly become a fast leak!
Other common problem areas are waste pipes under the bath, shower, sinks, basins and toilet cisterns, as well as the shower hose. These are usually screw or push fittings and can become loose. While the bath panel is off, look for signs of water running behind the silicone. Also check the silicone around the shower, and behind the kitchen sink.
Rain water and damp are the other main causes of water problems. Gutters should be checked for blockages after the autumn fall. Visit on a rainy day to make sure water isn’t sloshing over the top and down your walls. It can soak in causing damp patches inside. Also check overflow pipes aren’t dripping. A ball valve in the loft, or on a toilet cistern, is cheap to replace compared to rot caused by penetrating moisture. I dealt with other forms of damp in the last four-blogs-but-one.
Prepare for the worst and avoid additional costs. Install isolation valves to every outlet, avoiding having to turn off the whole system to repair a leaking tap washer, at massive inconvenience to tenants.
Airbricks should be kept clear to allow ventilation to potentially damp basements. Floors above ventilated basements should be insulated, and NEVER have bare floorboards, unless the gaps between have been thoroughly sealed with matching-colour caulk or silicone. Without the gap-sealing, the rooms will be very cold and drafty. If they have any choice, your tenants will leave.
Drains should be inspected for fatty deposits, and debris blocking drain grids removed.
Roof tiles & chimney mortar joints should be visually checked from the ground (gritty deposits falling down chimneys is a sign of problems).
Also check silicone seals around windows and doors. These can let in a lot of water, especially at the bottom.
Make sure any outward-opening doors can be hooked back, otherwise the wind can blow them off.
These things don’t cost much to do but cost a lot NOT to do. Most structural damage to properties could easily be avoided with a little forethought.
Fire is the other major hazard, fortunately much rarer than flooding but even more devastating. I’ll discuss it next week.