Our kids have always been early risers. It’s routine to wake up to a small figure in the dark trying to cuddle up well before the alarm goes off. But this morning, something was different; there was no attempt to sneak into our bed. Daddy,” the small voice said, “my floor is all wet.” I wondered what my four year old meant. Scenarios went through my drowsy mind — maybe a spilled glass of water? “Daddy, my feet are all wet, the carpet is all wet.” I pushed off my sleepiness and put both feet on the floor as I sat up in the dark.
I got up and walked across the house with my eyes barely open. I first felt the slosh of water pour over my foot as I stepped down on the carpet in his room. My eyes were wide open now. I turned on the light and investigated more closely, to find that his room was soaked. Flooded. I determined that the water heater in a storage room adjacent to our son’s bedroom had leaked overnight, went through the wall and was still leaking. I grumpily turned to the business of moving furniture, coloring books and stuffed animals out of his room and into the dry tiled hallway. I shut the water main and prepared to work from home for the day. Since we’d just replaced the water heater (which we’d discovered the same way) a few months before, I thought that it must be a bad unit. A few hours later, our handyman figured out that it was actually a broken water main line.
I was not very happy. We had to call plumbers to the house, who had to tape a tarp from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. They spent hours in our home, jackhammering away at the concrete to get at the line. But in reality, was it really an emergency? To us it certainly seemed urgent, and we were grateful that the plumbers were able to come out the same day. But in reality, this isn’t what we as property managers would consider a true emergency.
There are times that being handy around the house, well, will come in handy. Things will definitely go wrong, and sometimes it takes a day or two for service providers to make it to your home to make things right. Here are some tips for handling your home’s mishaps and knowing the difference between frustrating
problems and true emergencies:
Water leaks: This is probably not a true emergency. If you have a small leak under your sink, put a container underneath it to catch the water and empty it regularly until a repairman can make it out to your home. If it’s a more significant problem and you’re in a single-family home, shut off the water main. If you’re in a condo where the water main leads to multiple units (i.e., you’re cutting off everyone’s access to water in your building) call your HOA right away.
Gas leak: This may be an emergency. If you smell rotten eggs, you should shut your gas and call 911 or your local gas company. That smell is added to the gas to make leaks obvious, and you need to get that checked out by a professional right away. They will tell you what to do while you’re waiting for them to get to your home.
Toilet trouble: If the toilet is backing up and won’t flush, grab a plunger and try to resolve the issue yourself (if you rent, most plumbing clogs are considered tenant responsibility, so taking action before calling maintenance could result in saving you money in the end). If the toilet isn’t overflowing and you have access to another bathroom, you can wait until a repairman can fit you in during normal business hours. If the toilet has overflowed and flooded the home significantly, first turn off the toilet at the shut-off valve and then call for maintenance.
Electrical issues: If an outlet has stopped working properly, it can usually wait for a repairman to visit your home during normal business hours. If you see smoke or flames you should call 911; if you rent you will want to notify your landlord or property manager right away as well. If you’ve simply lost power to your home, this is probably not going to be considered an emergency unless it’s during the hot summer months here in Arizona. In this case, do your best to get an electrician to your home as soon as possible, if you rent call your landlord or property manager and consider asking to stay with friends temporarily.
by Joseph Maggiore, Designated Broker