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While providing appliances in rental units isn’t mandatory, most do in order to attract more potential tenants. Property managers responsible for rental units that do furnish appliances should make sure they’re in good working order after a tenant vacates the property and before a new tenant moves in. That’s also good practice to showcase your superior investment property management skills.
Appliances, especially those in rental units, don’t last forever. Therefore, it’s a good idea to test appliances in between tenants to make sure they’re running smoothly. The last thing a new tenant wants is a wonky refrigerator or gasping dishwasher in their new home. Appliances can malfunction, and when they do they exhibit distinguishable signs. Inspecting appliances for telltale signs of distress usually requires no tools.
Refrigerators contain moving parts and they can make noise when they’re not operating properly. Since refrigerators are always running, a noise signaling a problem can most likely be heard and should be considered a warning signal to bring in a repair professional or replace it with a new unit. A refrigerator’s fan, gaskets, and refrigeration system are also important to test.
- Open and close the refrigerator doors to check the gasket seal. There should be a slight pull on the door when it’s almost closed. If a gasket is torn in the refrigeration or freezer sections, replace it.
- Place a thermometer inside the refrigerator and set the temperature control to mid-range. Check the temperature after 12 hours. The thermometer should read 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If it doesn’t, turn the temperature control to cold and check it again in another 12 hours. If the temperature doesn’t read 40 degrees Fahrenheit, there could be a problem with the refrigerant.
- Check for water on the floor near the refrigerator or in the unit’s lower compartment. If you discover water, it can signal issues with the refrigerant or the int’s controls.
Kitchen Stoves and Ovens
The kitchen stove is generally the easiest to test.
- Turn on each stove top burner or heating element one at a time to the highest heat level to make sure it delivers maximum flame or glow.
- Place an oven thermometer in the oven and set the temperature to 400 degrees. Wait 10 minutes for the oven to reach the target temperature and check the thermometer to see if it reads 400 degrees.
• If the stove or oven fails either of these tests, repair or replace the unit before a new tenant moves in.
Testing other stove features such as the clock, timer, and oven light is optional. Those features don’t need to work for the stove or oven to perform properly, but you must disclose any non-functioning features to the new tenant.
Both washing machines and dryers often malfunction due to something blocking the outlet hose. Because the outlet is located inside the machine, you may have to call in a professional to remove it. However, before you call in a pro you first need to determine if a blockage exists.
- Run a load of wash and check to see if the machine drains properly.
- Running a load of was may also disclose unusual sounds that may indicate a loose belt or a problem with the machine’s motor.
- Running a load of wash also provides an opportunity to test the machine’s controls. If you hear any unusual sounds or if the machine vibrates excessively or the controls don’t work, call a service pro. Most washing machine problems can be fixed.
Dryers are the most problematic appliance since they can overheat and start a fire. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEM), dryers cause 2,900 fires in the U.S annually. After making sure the dryer’s vent and lint trap are clean, dry a load of laundry after running it through the washing machine and perform the following simple tests:
- Move the dial to the manual setting to make sure the dryer starts. Monitor for squeaks or excessive vibrations, which may indicate a loose drum belt. Set the dryer’s timer to 60 minutes or set the drying cycle to “Normal” and time how long it takes for the dryer to shut off. If the manual timer is working. it will take 60 minutes. For electric dyers. the timing is variable, although it should be close to 60 minutes.
- Remove clothes and check how dry they are. If they’re still wet. it indicates that the vent line could need a deeper cleaning. If you’re certain that the vent is clean, call a professional to check the dryer’s burner or heating element.
The following steps should be taken to test water heater function:
- Run the hot water at every faucet in the apartment and check the water’s temperature.
- Closely examine the water’s color. If the water coming from the hot water taps is cooler-than-expected or exhibits a yellow or brownish tinge. It signals that there may be sediment and rust in the water heater.
- Repair or replace a malfunctioning water heater before a new tenant moves in to avoid water quality issues and untimely water heater failure.
Investment property management is no easy task. If anything it forces you to be on top of everything that affects your tenants and their quality of living. Here are more tips on how to ensure that your tenants will stay with you for a long time.
- Check for Gas Leaks
As you’re testing appliances, make sure to listen for leaks coming from appliances fueled with gas. It’s a good idea to perform a bubble test on each gas connection. To perform a bubble test:
- Mix a 50-50 solution of dish soap and water or purchase commercially prepared test solutions that perform consistently because they adhere to the pipes, valves, and fittings better than soap-and-water solutions do.Brush or spray the solution on the pipes, valves or fittings to be tested.
- If bubbles appear on any connection, tighten the connection.
- If you can’t stop the bubble formation, call in a licensed gas technician to service the connection.
- Test Lights, Plugs, and Smoke Detectors
Plug an outlet tester into each outlet to check for power.
- Test the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets by pressing the bottom button on each and verify that the power goes off. Next press the reset button on the outlet’s top to make sure the tester lights up again.
- Turn on each light in the unit and replace any burned-out bulbs.
- Press the test button on each smoke detector in the unit to make sure the alarm sounds. If any smoke detectors fail to set off an alarm, replace the battery.
As you test appliances, you may discover problems that require professional repair or replacement. Schedule time to complete repairs by conducting the tests at least a week before occupancy. That way, there will be no unexpected surprises when the new tenant moves in. More importantly, they’ll say that you’re doing investment property management right.