Dear Maintenance Men:

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Jerry L’Ecuyer & Frank Alvarez

Dear Maintenance Men:
When is the best time to do an annual roof inspection?  Can you give me some pointers as what to look for when I inspect the roof?

Dear Tom:
The best time is before it rains!  However, we find summer and fall to be most the prudent time to inspect and repair the roof.    In other words, don’t wait to do roofing work after the first rains of winter.  The roofing contractors will be very busy and costs may go up or you may have to wait in line for the work to get done.   Inspect the roof during the summer and fall and get the roofing work done before it becomes an emergency. 

During the roof inspection, pay close attention to the flashing.  Flashing is used to transition between the roofing material and the building or a change in roofing direction or angle.  Flashing can also be found where pipes or a chimney come up through the roof.  The flashing is sealed with roofing tar and water leaks can form when the sealing tar cracks or separates from the building or the flashing material.  Look for curled up roof edges on composition roofs, low spots on flat roofs and bird nests in tile roofs.  Check all roof drains and cut away any trees branches that are touching or overhanging the roof.   While you are inspecting the roof, check the gutters.  Winter storms have a way of loosening gutters and filling them with gunk thereby causing them to lose their pitch and pool water.   Pooling or overflowing gutters can deteriorate fascia boards and siding. 

Dear Maintenance Men:
I’m getting my work check off list started before winter comes.  Do you have recommendations of what should be on the check list?


Dear Lisa:
After checking and repairing any roof damage, we recommend looking at the outside walls of the property.  Stucco, wood siding or other vertical surfaces, is the building’s skin.  Cracks, breaks and other damage to the siding invite “infection” to your building.  This “infection” can take the form of wood rot, mold, siding delaminating or separation from the subsurface, material breakdown of the stucco will cause discoloration and crumbling.   Common siding material found in most buildings is stucco, wood, brick, vinyl or concrete panels etc.  Water intrusion of the siding can find its way through the smallest cracks by capillary action or more directly from misaligned sprinklers or other water sources.   A little known and often forgotten solution to leaky windows is the clogged weep holes along the bottom of the window frame and track. These weep holes clog with dust and debris and very easily can cause water to enter the building through the window frame or even through small cracks in the stucco or siding at the edges of the window frame.   

Dear Maintenance Men:
It won’t be long before we need to change our clocks for winter.  I’m a bit concerned about the lights at my apartment building.  I have various fixtures, sensors and timers, not one of which turns on the lights at the same time. Some don’t turn off or on at all.  Any suggestions?

Dear Brian:

There are two ways to effectively control exterior lighting: 

             1:  A timer clock.

             2:  A photocell for detecting light and dark

 Both time clocks and photocells have been around forever. We prefer to activate landscape lighting with a photocell as it is virtually maintenance free.  A photocell will ensure the property has light only when it is needed and turn off automatically with the approach of daylight.  Be sure the photocell located where it can “see” ambient light and not near an artificial light source.  A time clock needs constant attention in order to keep up with the changing seasons and adjustments for longer or shorter nights.  There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the property all lit up at 5pm and it only gets dark at 7pm or even worse; the lights turn on at 7pm and it has been dark since 5pm.  Remember: the safety of your residents is at its greatest risk when it is dark and the lights are out. 

If you need maintenance work or consultation for your building or project, please feel free to contact us. We are available throughout Southern California. For an appointment please call Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. at 714 956-8371 

Jerry L’Ecuyer is a licensed contractor & real estate broker. He is currently on the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Education Committee of the Apartment Association of Orange County. Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.

Frank Alvarez is the Operations Director and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. He has been involved with apartment maintenance & construction for over 20 years. He is also a lecturer & educational instructor. Frank can be reached at (714) 956-8371 For more info please go to: