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16 Most Embarrassing Apartment Maintenance Requests

We love our renters. You’re like family to us.  And the fun part of family is poking fun at other family members.  Which is why we’d like to share our 16 Most Embarrassing Apartment Maintenance Requests.

We generated these after a sit-down discussion with our maintenance staff.  The common thread?  After our maintenance folks told our renters what was wrong, pretty much everyone died of embarrassment.  (Not literally, but close in a few cases.)

We’re not sharing these just because we like to watch our renters blush.  We also want to show you how to save yourself some cash, as we have to charge for some of these repairs (costs are included at the end of the article.)

1. “I have sparks flying in my microwave.”
The microwave wasn’t defective for this renter.  It’s was just so ridiculously dirty that the filth was catching fire and generating sparks.

There were two problem areas.  First, if you have a microwave with a carousel ring in the center, keep it (and the microwave) clean.  If you don’t, the build-up of gunk on the ring can cause sparks.

Second, there’s also a little piece inside the microwave called the mica waveguide cover.  If this cover gets too dirty, the microwave won’t work.  The best solution to these problems is to clean that bad boy.  Once a month should do the trick.

Here’s a quick description (with pictures) of the easy way to clean a microwave– include the mica waveguide cover.

2. “I was heating up my leftovers in the microwave and they started on fire.  Why?
The renter had tried to reheat his leftovers.  That’s fine, but he neglected to remove the aluminum foil covering it.

Aluminum foil in the microwave is flammable.  Use a paper towel to cover those leftovers, not foil.  While it may be unlikely the foil will cause your microwave to explode, it will cause a fire.

Here’s an article that explains why aluminum foil and a microwave are not a good match (no pun intended).

3. “My toilet won’t flush.”
It turned out the renter was using the toilet like a garbage disposal unit, flushing down paper towels, rags and other things we’d rather not get into.

Basically, there are only three things you can flush down the toilet.  Number 1 and 2 you can probably guess (we’ve just provided you with a hint), and number 3 is toilet paper.

Beyond that, nothing else goes.  Not paper towels, not Kleenex, not feminine products, not rags, not your roommate’s cat, not kitty litter.  For some reason, people seemed determined to flush all other sorts of weird things down the toilet.  These items will cause a clog, a back-up, and one heckuva a mess.

4. “My downstairs neighbor said his roof is leaking.”
The neighbor was complaining because the upstairs tenant had a leaky pipe under her sink, but chose to ignore it, hoping it would go just go away.  It didn’t, and the water leaked through to the downstairs apartment.
There is nothing more destructive to a housing unit that leaking water.  If you will recall the concept of erosion, you’ll know that water can do some serious damage if allow to trickle, seep, and drip in your apartment. Water and wood don’t mix.

If you notice any type of water leak, don’t stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away.  Call maintenance immediately.  Like NOW.

5. “The water from the shower gets all over the bathroom floor.”  
We received this complaint from a renter new to the United States.  It turned out she didn’t know what the shower curtain was for; in her homeland, bathrooms have a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor, and no shower curtain was used.

You generally won’t find those drains in most apartments, so pull that shower curtain closed to keep water in the shower stall and off the floor.

6. “I’m getting mold in my apartment.”
That’s a fair complaint, but the tenant didn’t know that she should run her bathroom fan to clear out the humidity after a shower.  Also, she never cleaned her bathroom, windowsills or blinds.  Those are perfect spots for mildew to form.

Avoid mold and mildew by running exhaust fans in the bathroom during your shower and a good 10 minutes after it, and wiping out windowsills and blinds.

If you don’t like to clean, take advantage of the bevy of cleaning services available on campus.  You may find them surprisingly cheap.
7. “My toilet was clogged up, and no matter how many times I flushed it, it wouldn’t clear.”
This renter had a clog in the toilet, which eventually overflowed because he kept reflushing.

If your toilet fails to flush properly, please please please please do not think that the corrective action is to FLUSH AGAIN.  This will only result in an overflow.

First, if your toilet is overflowing, shut off the water by closing the shutoff valve behind the toilet. Hint – it looks like a knob, righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.  Here’s a picture of the shut-off valve, courtesy of 1-800fasthelp.com.

toilet_shutoff-resized-600

Next, try plunging the bad boy.  In case you’ve never had the pleasure, here’s a little how-to video.  Just watch the first part of the video – don’t do the auger thing.  If you can’t plunge it out, call maintenance.

8. “The bottom drawer of my refrigerator broke.”
This is because the renter tried to use his refrigerator as a step stool to reach overhead cabinets. Not a wise move, as the fridge is meant to hold lettuce, not support your weight. They will break, you will pay to replace them.

9. “My refrigerator isn’t keeping food cold.”
If you pack every square inch of your refrigerator full of food (or other items) it will run like a three-legged goat.  This is assuming the three-legged goat doesn’t run very well.

This renter, who was sharing space with three roommates, had overloaded the fridge after a big shopping run.  As a result, his cold cuts weren’t so cold anymore.

If you find that your refrigerator isn’t keeping your food cold, you may too much stuff jammed in it.  Overload the fridge, and it won’t work correctly.

10. “The bottom electrical outlet doesn’t work.”electrical_outlet-resized-600

When the renter plugged a computer into the wall outlet, she couldn’t get juice.  The reason why?  The outlet is wired for a lamp, and the power to that outlet is controlled by the flipping a switch on the wall.  If you try and plug something in to one these outlets and find it doesn’t work, flip the switch for a pleasant surprise.  (Photo by shaire productions.)

11.  “My dishwasher is broken.”
In this case, the renter’s dishwasher wasn’t broken.  She had simply neglected to close the soap dispenser cap entirely.  The dishwasher won’t run if that happens.

12.  “My apartment has a weird odor in it.”
Most odors, other than the ones emanating from your roommate’s laundry hamper, can generally be traced to the kitchen.  In this case, the renter forgot about the perishable food items in the fridge before she headed out to break.

When you leave on break, be sure to also empty the garbage, and don’t forget to also run your garbage disposal before you leave.  A good way to clear the smell from your disposal is to cut up some citrus fruit, such as a lemon or orange with the rind on, and throw it in.

13. “My garbage disposal is smoking!”
A renter told us smoke was rising from her disposal unit.  It turns out she didn’t know you have to have water – and cold water at that – running in the unit while its grinding.  D’oh!

14.  “I’m locked out of my apartment – my keycard doesn’t work.”
The reason this student got locked out in the wee hours of the morning was because for a week, he had ignored the flashing yellow light on his electronic door lock reader.

That flashing yellow means the battery is going dead.  Call maintenance right away for a replacement battery when this happens.  Don’t leave it until the middle of the night, when you come home from a tough night of studying and find your electronic key won’t work at all.

15.  “My AC unit isn’t working properly.”
A legitimate concern, with a very easy fix.  In many of our apartments, there is a white metal door in the wall.  Behind the white door is your HVAC unit.  The HVAC unit behind this door pulls air through the doors vents, which in turn prevents your unit from overheating.  If you block the white door, it can cause your system to shut down.

In this case, the renter was using the door as a place to posters, and had put a couch in front of it.   Ergo, the AC unit went south.

16.  “My car died, and I haven’t used it in months.”
This renter thought that the only way a car dies if as a result of use.  However, the longer a car sits without running, the more it will slowly drain your battery.

If you’re leaving your vehicle for a long stretch, it’s a good idea to start it every now and then and take it for a quick spin around town.  Driving it a short distance will recharge your battery so it’s ready when you’re ready to go.

Cost of Maintenance Repairs

Hot pan on a non-granite countertop – $390
Many of our residents in our Lucky Apartments have discovered that putting a hot pan on certain countertops destroys the finish and requires replacing.  Hot pad anyone?

Screen replacements – $60
Window screens are a necessary evil in mosquito-ridden Wisconsin.  Be careful around those screens; any rips and tears will have to be replaced by our maintenance team.

Clogged up disposals – $92
Our maintenance guys shook their heads as they produced a list of things not to put down the disposal unit in the sink:

  • Shot glasses, bottles or glass of any kind
  • Baggies
  • Contents of a vacuum cleaner bag
  • Wrappers
  • Stones from a fish tank (as in don’t clean your fish tank in the kitchen sink)

You see, the disposal unit, or garbage disposal as it’s commonly referred to, is not for garbage.  It’s for food products only.

* * *

There you have it.  Sixteen embarrassing apartment maintenance requests, and how you can best avoid them.  Please know that this article was printed not to ridicule mistakes of the past, but only to prevent their reoccurrence in the future.

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