If you own rental property, you’ll probably want to learn how to make some common repairs.
After all, necessity is the mother of invention, right.
Be prepared: If you do start working on your rental property after work and on the weekends, you’ll probably hear comments like: “Why don’t you just hire someone to do that?” or even worse … “I don’t do those types of things. My time is worth more than that.”
“I don’t do those types of things. My time is worth more than that.”
Let’s focus on that quote for a minute. Many people who make comments like that don’t have any serious net worth simple because they aren’t willing to put in the hard work. They think that common or mundane tasks are beneath them and their pride gets in the way of their success.
With that said, other times, it’s true. When I have a net worth of 10 million, I won’t be cleaning tubs, but until then it’s worth doing the dirty work.
True stories about taking ownership
You need to take ownership of your properties, both figuratively and literally!
1. Many years ago I worked at a hedge fund and worked a lot of weekends. One Saturday, I saw the owner of the entire office park plunging the toilet and cleaning the restroom. This guy had a personal net worth of well over $100 million. He even had full-time maintenance employees. Why weren’t they plunging the toilet and cleaning the bathroom?
It’s the same reason I sometime fix my own properties: ownership.
2. Two years ago I was facing some monumental issues. I had bought several properties, had too many vacancies, and the bills were adding up. Instead of blaming property managers for not getting renters and contractors for not showing up, I took ownership of the problems.
These were my problems, and I had only myself to blame.
I have one sign in my office, and it’s the same sign that Harry Truman had on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here”.
10 Most Common Repairs
Let’s examine the most common issues that come up at a rental property, and how you can fix them yourself. Yes, it might take a little more time than hiring a professional, but you’ll learn new skills and save thousands in the long run.
Always be safe, especially if working with power tools or electrical systems. If you’re unsure about what to do, hire a professional the 1st time and ask him/her to explain the repair as it is performed. You’ll see how easy it can be, and next time, you’ll be able to try it yourself.
1. Squeaky Floors
Squeaky floors are a major red flag to people when buying a house. Most people improperly assume that there are structural problems if there are squeaky floors. In reality, it’s probably just some minor settling.
The Fix: There are two fixes for this. Sprinkle talcum powder between the cracks to see whether that fixes the issue. If it doesn’t, install some supporting braces (2x4s cut for length) underneath the squeaky spots.
2. Replace Caulk Around Tubs and Sinks
Many properties need the caulk replaced around the bathtub. It’s a major turnoff for potential tenants (not to mention extremely disgusting) if you don’t repair it.
The Fix: Buy a special tool at the hardware store for removing caulk. It costs less than $5 and makes your life a lot easier. Be sure to get a caulk gun, and get the special bathroom caulk. This whole process takes less than two hours and can save you several hundred dollars.
3. Gutter Maintenance
You probably don’t love the idea of gutter cleaning. However, all gutter issues are easy to fix, and you can get all the replacement parts at the hardware store.
The Fix: If you’re afraid of falling off a ladder, consider using this tool: Gutter Clutter Buster.
This tool is especially good for people who live in the mountains where there is little flat land to use a ladder.
4. Stained Bathtub
Stained bathtubs are a major turnoff for potential tenants.
FAIR WARNING: You can try to paint a bathtub, but it usually doesn’t turn out well. And refurbishing a bathtub is usually cost prohibitive.
Try to deep clean the bathtub.
The Fix: Here are two strategies.
- Spray Comet everywhere, and let it soak for an hour. Then scrub.
- More natural option: Combine cream of tartar and baking soda with lemon juice. Scrub it into the tub, and let sit for an hour. Then wash away.
5. Repair Drywall
Somehow, rentals accumulate random holes in walls.
The Fix: Buy a simple drywall repair kit at Home Depot.
Even if you’re no expert, you can probably get good enough results to get the apartment rented.
All you do is cut the screen so it fits tightly in the hole in the wall. Then you rub the compound over it. The trick is to make sure you don’t make the screen too loose; you don’t want it to collapse. Also, make sure the compound is smooth against the wall.
After it dries, repaint the wall section, and it’s as good as new.
6. Unclog a Toilet
Toilet problems happen all the time.
The Fix: Have a heavy-duty plunger, such as this one: Neiko Toilet Plunger
If that doesn’t work, you need an auger, such as this one: Toilet Auger (This is what plumbers use.)
7. Fix a Leaky Pipe
There can be several causes of leaky pipes. However, it’s usually from a seal becoming worn out or a fitting becoming loose. Lucky for you, these are easy and cheap to fix.
- Turn off the water.
- Clean the area where the drip is occurring.
- Use a putty knife to cover the area with some epoxy.
- Cover the leak with some rubber.
- Tighten with a bracket on both sides of the rubber.
- Allow everything to settle for at least an hour before turning the water back on.
8. Getting the Smoke Smell out of a Property
You should have a clause in your lease that tenants are not allowed to smoke in the property. Hopefully, your tenants actually follow that clause. If not …
The Fix: There is no one single thing that can fix an awful smell.
The best thing to do is to replace the flooring and paint the walls and ceiling.
You can burn a scented candle while working at the property. And you can set out several large bowls of pure white vinegar, changing the vinegar after a couple of days. Keeping the windows open when the weather permits is also a good idea.
9. Replacing a Roof Shingle
Shingles can be damaged fairly easily from trees or wind, and the entire roof doesn’t need to be replaced.
The Fix: Use a hammer or pry bar to remove the damaged shingle. Remove the nails as well. Slip the new shingle into place. Nail the new shingle into place, and then apply roofing cement under the replaced shingle and the one above it.
10. Unsticking a Wood Window
Sometimes windows don’t open. This is often because they are painted over.
The Fix: Cut through the paint with a sharp knife between the very bottom part of the window and the frame. Use a putty knife to try to pry the window up. If that doesn’t work, try a pry bar. But be careful! You also want to try to unseal anything on the side that might have been painted over and that should move.
Did I leave out a common maintenance request you get? Let me know in the comments!