DIY Apartment Maintenance & Upkeep

By Holland Residential
Posted 1/15/2018

Save yourself (and your maintenance team) both time and headaches with these simple DIY maintenance tasks.

    • Resetting Power Outlets & Breakers

You just finished making your world-famous cinnamon swirl waffles. You know, the ones that require the mixer, the waffle iron, and then the toaster to heat them back up before serving.

Problem is, one of the outlets in your kitchen isn’t working!

Not to worry. Lost power in your kitchen outlets is actually a safety feature of your GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets. These outlets automatically shut off and cut power if there’s an imbalance in power flow (such as plugging in too many appliances at once).
Countertop Outlet
To restore power, first, check the individual outlets in the kitchen area. Some, or all, should have an indicator light that’s turned on when the outlet has power. If the light is off, press the ‘reset’ button on the outlet.

If an outlet doesn’t have a reset button and isn’t functioning, it’s likely on the same circuit as a GFCI outlet that has tripped. Check all surrounding outlets to ensure they are functioning – following the previous step to reset power.

If your outlets still aren’t working, your next stop should be the breaker box.

Open your breaker box and visually inspect each breaker. Under normal conditions, each should be flipped to the “on” position. Check for any breaker in the center position – this indicates that the breaker was tripped.
Breaker Box
Flip the tripped breaker to the "Off" position, then back to "On". Return to the affected outlets to verify power has been restored.

Please note, you should never attempt to alter or remove any element of your breaker box or outlets. If you still have issues getting power to your outlets or lights, contact your maintenance staff and let them handle it.

In some apartment homes, you may find outlets that don’t seem to work no matter what you try. Often, these outlets (or at least one of the slots) are connected to a switch.

To test, connect a lamp or small appliance to the outlet, then begin testing switches nearby. This wiring configuration is added to modern apartments by design, allowing you to control additional light fixtures from a switch, rather than toggling the device itself.

    • Lightbulb Replacement

It isn't really rocket science to replace a lightbulb. But there are a few facts you should know before starting.

First, always make sure the power to the light is off, and the bulb has had time to cool.
Changing Lighbulb
Second, if the old bulb should happen to break while still in the housing – do not attempt to remove it with your hand! If the light is a permanent fixture of your apartment, contact maintenance and let them take care of it. If it’s a personal lamp or something similar, unplug it, then try to remove the broken bulb with a pair of pliers.

Don’t own any pliers? Cut a potato in half then firmly press it into the socket and twist counter-clockwise. This should grip the base of the bulb while leaving the socket in place.

Lastly, don’t touch your new bulb with your bare hands. Use a glove or towel when handling to prevent adding additional oils to the surface. Oils on lightbulbs can create hotspots – leading to a shorter lifespan of the bulb.

    • Replacing Smoke Detector Batteries

While everyone enjoys the sound of chirping birds in the morning, the sound of chirping from your smoke detector at 2am is less than ideal. This sound indicates it’s time for a new battery.

Using a ladder or solid step-stool, open the battery compartment of your detector (which may require you to untwist it from its base). Disconnect the old battery and replace with one of the same type.

Press and hold the “test” button on your detector to ensure it’s functional, then reattach your detector to the wall or ceiling.

Please note, if your device continues to chirp or the “test” function doesn’t work, contact your maintenance staff right away.

    • Unclogging Drains & Toilets

Few things are as sobering as a clogged toilet or drain. We recommend every renter should be equipped with a plunger to handle such emergencies. And while you may think you know all there is to know about clogged drains (honestly, how much could there be?) – you may be surprised to learn the following:
Union Denver Bathroom
If water is rising in your toilet bowl but it isn’t flushing, quickly remove the tank lid and close the flapper (it’s the piece that looks like a flap). This piece controls the flow of water into the bowl. Closing it manually should help prevent a flooded bathroom.

Next, warm your plunger under hot water before using it (or you can add hot water directly to the toilet bowl). This softens up the rubber, helping you get a better seal and also helps to break down clogs.

Lastly, attempt to clear the clog with your plunger with a stern up and down motion. The sudden change in pressure should be enough to dislodge most clogs, allowing the toilet or drain to flush normally. But accidents happen, and sometimes, plunging isn’t enough. Better to call your maintenance team then to risk hundreds or thousands of dollars in damages just to protect your pride.

On a final note, we often get questions about the use of liquid drain cleaners. These highly toxic chemicals may clear a slow drain or clog, but they’re actually harmful to the environment, yourself, and your maintenance team.

Contrary to popular belief, liquid drain cleaners do not clean your pipes. Most contain hydrochloric acid which eats away at your plumbing over time. We highly discourage apartment renters from using these products. Not only are they bad for pipes and fixtures, but unknowing maintenance staff in other areas of the property may be exposed to the harmful chemicals.

Dont feel like a DIY master just yet? No worries! Holland Residential's team of maintenance staff are always happy to assist. Simply submit a maintenace request either in office or through the online resident portal.

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