Dear Maintenance Men:

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


Dear Maintenance Men:

My pest control company has removed a beehive from my property.  However, the bees have not left and the tenants are complaining about bees inside their units.   I have sealed every hole, crevasse and crack I can find.  Yet, the bees still find a way of getting into the units. What is missing or are these bees just too smart?


Dear Bert:

We have had a similar problem at one of our properties. We also sealed everything we could think of and still the bees found a way in.   You may want to look at your roof vents that service the bathroom & kitchen exhaust fans.  The bees come down the vent and go into the voids between the ceiling and roof. Most fan boxes are not well sealed below the fan blades.   Once they are in the ceiling, it is easy for them to travel to different units, find a hole and drop down into the apartment’s living area.   Because the bees may be discovered in an area far from the original entry point, it is hard to track down where they first came in.  We now install screening at all bath and kitchen exhaust vent tubes.   The material used is 1/8 inch square metal screening and is attached to the top of the vent tube at the roof level.  Be sure to extract the hive and any honey you find or you might not only continue to have a bee problem, but an ant problem also.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have a bathroom sink that is slow draining.  I have already snaked the drain and found no stoppage.  When I remove the pop-up assembly and have an open drain, water whooshes down with no problem. However, with the pop-up in place, water backs up into the sink and drains very slowly. 


Dear Paul:

Most bathroom sinks have an overflow hole near the top edge of the sink.  This hole serves two purposes; 1: Acts as a safety drain to keep the sink from overflowing should the water rise above a certain level in the sink.  2: The overflow hole also serves as an air vent for the sink when the water levels are above the pop-up plug.   The overflow hole allows air to escape through the drain and the water to evacuate more efficiently.  

What has happened is hair, toothpaste, grime etc. have built-up and sealed off the overflow drain where it exits just below the pop-up assembly plug.  Most snakes are too big to go through the overflow drain.  Alternatively, a speedometer cable will work great or even a long zip tie will work.  Push the cable or zip tie down through the overflow hole at the top of the sink and push any gunk out into the drain.  Use water to help push the debris out the overflow drain, a funnel works great to direct a good flow of water.  If you cannot get the overflow to drain, disassemble the main drain assembly to gain access to the overflow drain exit.   Once the overflow drain has good airflow, the sink should drain a bit faster.  If this does not solve the problem completely, look at restricting the water flow coming out of the faucet.  Use a restrictive aerator to cut down on the GPM of the faucet.     

Dear Maintenance Men:

I am thinking of converting my thirsty lawn into a drought resistant landscape. What recommendation do you have to help me achieve my plan?


Dear Dorothy:

Creating a drought tolerant landscape is a great idea.  In the end, the drought tolerant landscape will cost you less money in water and will be easier to maintain.  The single greatest consumer of water in your landscape is the turf.  Reduce the grass area to ease the burden on water.  Xeriscaping is a term for a water conserving landscape.  Some of the benefits of Xeriscaping is water saving, low maintenance, pesticide free, pollution free (no lawnmowers) and use of local native plants.   You might want to consider using Ornamental grasses, as they are drought tolerant, look great and give your landscape a bit of vertical dimension.  Succulents of course are great at conserving water.  Flax and Delphiniums Iris are a few perennials to use.  Marigolds, Mexican Sunflowers, Phlox and Vinca Passion are Annuals that will work well.  As for shrubs, look at Japanese black pine, Mountain currant, Sassafras, Honeysuckles etc and good trees are Acacia, Gray Birch, Monterey Cypress, Eucalyptus, Fig, Juniper Amur Maple to name a few.

Maintenance Tip:  If you keep potted plants or flowers on your deck; always elevate the pot with plastic, or terracotta legs to let any water under the pot evaporate. This will help avoid water and rust rings from developing under the pot. 

WE NEED Maintenance Questions!!!    If you would like to see your maintenance question in the “Dear Maintenance Men:” column, please send in your questions to:

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
Frank Alvarez
is licensed contractor and 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 and Co-Chair of the Education Committee of the Apartment Association of Orange County as well as being Chairman of the Product Service Counsel.  Frank can be reached at (714) 956-8371 For more info please go to:
Jerry L’Ecuyer
is a real estate broker. He is currently on the Board of Directors and Past President of the Apartment Association of Orange County .and past Chairman of the association’s Education Committee.  Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.