Whether you live in a house or apartment building, maintenance issues are a part of life. They might not happen every single day, but they do require quite a bit of attention and financial investment. After all, modern living requires a lot of amenities – air conditioning, natural gas connections, electricity, and so on.
It’s only logical that something or the other will break down and need repairing. With more people working from home or setting up home-based businesses, the use of home appliances and plumbing has gone up. This leads to a higher chance of breakages and other forms of serious property damage.
Everyone has to be prepared for some sort of maintenance issue, but apartment dwellers usually have to put in a maintenance request to sort out the problem. With that said, there might be some confusion as to what entails an emergency maintenance request.
What is a Maintenance Emergency?
A maintenance emergency is a pressing issue that occurs outside of normal business hours. This means that you should put in a maintenance request to fix the issues right away. Otherwise, you and the property managers could risk serious property damage. At times, emergency assistance is necessary for avoiding injuries, health issues, and even death.
Here are a few examples of definite maintenance emergencies that justify immediate attention from an emergency maintenance team:
- Broken water lines
- Fire that’s gone out of control
- A broken gas line or natural gas leak (you’d know by the smell – it’s similar to rotten eggs)
- No air conditioning for a long time in very hot weather
- No heat when the temperatures are very low
- The door has a broken lock
- Sewer back-up flooding the apartment
What is a Routine Maintenance Request?
Of course, not every maintenance request is serious enough to bring out the maintenance team at any hour of the day or night. There are proper business hours in place, where you can place a routine maintenance request for some issue that isn’t too threatening. By this, we mean that it isn’t causing property damage nor threatening anyone’s life or safety.
Here are some non-emergency maintenance issues; these may require a professional, but within the regular business hours. You’ll probably be safe putting in just a normal maintenance request for when:
● The central air conditioning has broken down, but the weather outside is fairly pleasant
● The heating is broken, but the temperature is not too low
● The ice maker isn’t working
● A stove burner has stopped working
● Hot water isn’t coming in the taps
● A light bulb needs replacing
If most of the above issues stay like that for a prolonged period of time, they might be considered emergency maintenance issues. Hopefully, your apartment’s management can resolve these problems before they get out of hand.
Whether it’s a routine maintenance issue or a matter of emergency maintenance, we don’t want things to get out of hand. Make sure to read up on these apartment maintenance tips that all tenants need to know.
How Do We Differentiate Between a Serious Emergency Maintenance Request and a Routine Maintenance Request?
What does it take for an issue to be considered an emergency? A residence like an apartment may require several repairs at a time. However, most of them will probably not require an emergency call outside of normal business hours.
It’s important to learn what constitutes a serious maintenance issue and what doesn’t. We don’t want to misuse an emergency maintenance team, nor do we want to risk property damage by being too confused to speak up.
At times, the emergency of the situation is fairly obvious. If the kitchen is flooded with water up to your ankles, you can call on emergency maintenance. The same goes for broken gas lines, carbon monoxide leaks, or other issues that require immediate attention.
On the other hand, noisy apartment neighbors in the middle of the night are probably not serious enough to request emergency maintenance. At the most, you can put in a routine complaint or request the property manager/landlord to do something about the situation. If all parties are in agreement, your best bet here might be to soundproof your apartment door.
Other less pressing issues may include the air conditioning breaking down or a broken heater without any suspected gas leaks. A clogged toilet may also not be serious, but it could be an issue if that’s the only one you have.
The exact nature of the maintenance emergencies might vary and you don’t want to get in trouble with property management for crying wolf. Let’s look at the matter in more detail and see what might be a maintenance emergency in an apartment and what is not.
What is Considered a Maintenance Emergency in an Apartment?
It can be hard adjusting to apartment living at first; you have to be wary about a lot of factors, and knowing what emergency maintenance entails is one of them. If you misuse this option, the property management might not be so eager to help next time.
Wondering how you can differentiate between an emergency maintenance issue and a routine one? Here are some tips to make the best judgment before calling in a team:
1. Use Logic and Rational Reasoning
Before you decide to call in an emergency maintenance team, see whether you can deal with the issue until morning. If you find that your fridge has broken down in the middle of the night, sniff around for a gas leak. If there’s no sign of one, simply close the fridge door and keep it that way. This step will keep the items inside as cool as possible until the maintenance workers arrive.
The same logic applies if the central air conditioning or heating goes out. First, make sure that it isn’t just your apartment with this problem. The weather outside will also determine whether you can consider this a matter of emergency maintenance or not. If the weather is dangerously hot or cold, you’re justified in calling the maintenance team outside of business hours.
To be on the safe side, do enquire about emergency maintenance when wondering what to ask when apartment hunting.
2. Try to Determine the Cause
Before you declare anything a maintenance emergency or even a routine maintenance matter, check your own situation. Perhaps, the heating or cooling hasn’t really broken down, but is a result of late or non-payment of your utility bills. If that’s the case, call the utility company instead of maintenance.
A power outage may be the result of a storm or hurricane. Again, this is not a maintenance emergency, but just something to wait out.
3. Losing the Key to Your Apartment
If you get locked out of your apartment – through losing the key, forgetting it, or having the door swing shut accidentally – this may not be a maintenance emergency.
You may be tempted to call maintenance or your landlord and get the property’s master key. If it’s an unusual hour, however, it’s probably better to get a locksmith. You can also take precautions to prevent such situations by hiding a key somewhere, giving a copy to someone you trust, etc.
With that said, if you suspect a carbon monoxide or gas leak inside the locked apartment, this might be a maintenance emergency. The apartment building is probably someone’s investment property, and they wouldn’t want to risk any serious damage.
4. Electricity Issues and Power Outages
As mentioned above, a power outage may be the electric company’s problem. If the problem is just in your unit, double-check your utility bill payment. If that’s clear, flip the circuit breaker, check the fuses, and reset the GFI breakers. Many times, all you have to do is turn a tripped circuit breaker back on. It doesn’t take an electrician to figure this out, but you may want to call one during business hours if the issue persists.
5. Can DIY Be a Possible Solution?
A lot of maintenance issues may be fairly minor, such as changing a light bulb or replacing a dirty air filter. If the smoke detector has depleted batteries, make sure to remove them and put in new ones. These tasks may be simple, but we shouldn’t neglect them either.
There are many ways to save money while living in an apartment, but ignoring these small maintenance problems is not one of them.
6. Know When There’s a Maintenance Emergency
It’s also essential to know when something is an emergency and requires immediate attention. Any heavy smoke or open flames can be the cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is always considered an emergency, so don’t try to deal with carbon monoxide on your own. If you hesitate, you’d be endangering others as well as yourself.
A gas leak is almost equally dangerous; they put the smell in natural gas so that we’re aware of any danger. If you even suspect a gas leak, turn off all appliances and the gas line too. Avoid using switches or anything that can cause a flame or spark.
Carbon monoxide can also get into your apartment in other ways. These include:
● Vehicles running in an attached garage
● Snow blocked dryer vents
● Malfunctioning water heaters
If you have any of the above in your apartment complex, be on the alert for suspicious smells.
A maintenance emergency team is a nice perk when you’re living in an apartment, however we must be careful not to misuse this service. As long as we’re aware of what constitutes a maintenance emergency and what doesn’t, there will be a safer environment for everyone concerned. Ask your apartment community to draw up a list of emergency situations to start with; a little information goes a long way!