Water Damage Ain’t Just About Mold

Here’s a cautionary tale from a student property in Elon:

The ceiling of one of the breezeways…had sections of concrete fall down.

No one was injured, but the students who lived there had to be evacuated. The director of inspections for Alamance County says no one will be allowed back in until the components to support the ceiling are fixed.

“Well because the walls, those tresses [sic] are attached to hold up the second and third floors of that apartment building. We want to make sure the walls are sound before we let anyone back in there,” says Robert Key, director of county inspections.

In the video interview, the inspector said that because the trusses were hidden behind concrete it was not possible to easily inspect them, which meant that water damage went undetected and that led to the supports giving way and the collapse of the concrete.

Just one more way that water can be a maintenance professional’s nemesis.

PTAA and Goodwill of NWNC Maintenance Job Placement Program Pays Dividends

1508_GoodwillJobFair1For the past few years PTAA and Goodwill of NWNC have been partnering to make NAA’s CAMT designation a central part of the maintenance program that Goodwill and Forsyth Technical Community College developed as one of their job training programs. A couple of times a year PTAA and Goodwill team up to host a job fair so that PTAA members can meet graduates of the program as well as other qualified candidates identified by Goodwill.
On the morning of August 19, 2015 one such job fair was held at Goodwill and so far the results have been impressive: five maintenance technicians and one maintenance supervisor were hired by participating PTAA members. Considering that these job fairs are fairly small this kind of result is very impressive and highlights the value of having a highly targeted event that focuses on quality versus quantity.

1508_GoodwillJobFair2As most people in the local apartment industry are aware, the maintenance tech position is one of the hardest to staff given that there’s often a great deal of turnover and the candidate pool is very limited. PTAA’s partnership with Goodwill of NWNC is a critical component of our efforts to help address this issue for our members. If you would like more information, and in particular if you would like to be notified directly the next time we schedule a job fair, please contact Carrie Langley at 336-294-4428.

Chemical Bait and Trap for Bedbugs May Be Available in 2015

This is potentially some very good news for apartment community managers:

Researchers at Simon Fraser University have discovered a chemical combination, which can be used to lure and trap bedbugs for the killing, according to findings published in the chemistry journal, Angewandte Chemie, on Dec. 21.

The combination is made up of six components that work together to create a pheromone used to attract and immobilize the wingless bloodsucking bedbugs known for infesting beds in houses and hotels…

The team hopes, as they work with Canadian company Contech Enterprises Inc., to have an affordable bait and trap on the market sometime in 2015.

NAA Announces New Member Benefit from Lowe’s ProServices

NAA recently sent this update to all its affiliates, including PTAA:

NAA Member Discount with Lowe’s ProServices

Lowe’s ProServices, a member of the NAA National Supplier Council,  is pleased to announce a special partnership with the National Apartment Association

Lowe’s stores stock 40,000 products in 15 product categories ranging from appliances to tools, to paint, lumber and nursery products. Lowe’s has hundreds of thousands of products available by Special Order – offering everything customers need to build, maintain, beautify and enjoy their homes and businesses.  With over 1,700 US store locations, we are ready to handle your everyday needs.

Program Overview

  • 5% off all in store purchases or through lowesquotes.com with the use of a Lowe’s Accounts Receivables (LAR) credit account
  • Contractor packs & volume discount pricing
  • Order ahead with delivery available
  • Open 7 days a week
  • Business replenishment program
  • + added incentive for NAA members only

For more details visit  http://www.naahq.org/join/member-benefits/Member-Discounts

Lowe’s NAA Member Discount Customer Service is being handled by:

Eric Kubitz
ProServices – Sr. Manager
National Accounts
Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

If You Can’t Chew It…

Here’s a couple of nice little FYIs from NAA’s Aptly Spoken blog:

During October 2nd’s Webinar Wednesday, “Tricks of the Trade: Maintenance,” Webinar moderator Paul Rhodes, National Maintenance and Safety Instructor for NAAEI, said the most common appliance-related service request is for the garbage disposal—which should really be called the “food waste disposer.”

Rhodes says residents think their garbage disposal is a chipper, often throwing in bottle caps, fish gravel, tree branches, egg shells, chicken bones and coffee grounds. But as a general rule of thumb, if you can’t chew it, neither can your disposal….

Mildew—essentially the same thing as mold—appears due to moisture, stale air and the presence of a food source. It craves moisture, which is why bleach is not the best remedy, as it is mostly made of water and simply removes color. 

Instead, Rhodes suggests using laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent, both of which have a degreaser that will help fight mildew. You can also leave a thin layer behind to prevent mold from re-growing around a window frame, for example.



The Perils of Droopy Drawers

At every community manager round table hosted by PTAA there’s one topic that invariably comes up for discussion: staff attire. Most of the concerns that managers have relate to the image being portrayed by the staff members, but in the case of maintenance staff there are other, very practical concerns as highlighted in this post on the NAA blog:

He was crossing the parking lot headed for a building across the way and was having trouble. His “uniform” consisted of a logo’ed shirt and some very baggy jeans. Those jeans had fallen to mid thigh, where his visible boxer shorts did not match the color scheme of the shirt (light blue or gray shirt, fluorescent yellow and green boxers…)  

There are others more qualified than I to comment on the fashion sense, I’m more concerned about the service… I did not meet or talk this Maintenance Tech, and only saw him this one, very quick instance. He was holding up his pants with one hand, so they did not fall any further and having to perform this kind of shuffle-walk due to the pants falling down while walking away from me so I didn’t even get to see his face. His other hand was juggling some tools and supplies. I do have a couple of questions if I could speak to him:

– Is the impression that he left on me the one that was intended? 
– Do I trust him to come into my home to repair anything?
– Does he actually work for the community, or is he an impostor?
– Some of the boys who are my daughters age are wearing this same style in high school… Has he graduated yet? 

R-22 Price Should NOT Impact Service You Provide

Here’s a great paragraph from Paul Rhodes in a blog post he wrote about the rise in cost of R-22:

As we head into the Summer months it is a good idea to be aware of the situation on our property level and be aware that while the price has increased, the service type that we provide to our properties and to our residents should not need to change. The service that we provide our residents and properties is not based on the price of refrigerant. Skills such as bleeding Nitrogen while brazing, charging by Superheat or Subcool, pulling a proper vacuum and cleaning coils are not related to which refrigerant we use.

How Effective Are Smoke Alarms?

An interesting post at the Freakonomics blog calls into question the true efficacy of smoke alarms. As you read this please keep in mind that the author is a deputy fire chief with the Boston Fire Department:

Over this time period (2005–2009), no one died in this type of fire if the fire was big enough to operate the alarm.  If, using the same report, we only analyze “non-confined” fires, we get the following death rate per 100 fires for homes.

  • Smoke alarm present and operated – 1.15 (980 deaths / 85,100 fires)
  • No smoke alarm or alarm did not operate – 1.64 (1,640 deaths / 99,800 fires)

This is only a 29 percent reduction in death rate (1.15 versus 1.64). Given that some of the reduction is probably due to socioeconomic factors that accompany smoke alarm ownership, the reduction in risk attributable to the alarm is less than this percentage.  The numbers for apartments are even more troubling.

  • Smoke alarm present and operated – 1.17 (220 deaths / 18,800 fires)
  • No smoke alarm or alarm did not operate – 1.43 (200 deaths / 14,000 fires)

In apartments, smoke alarms only reduce the risk of dying in a fire by 18 percent (1.17 versus 1.42). 


Have dog owners in your community?  Do they let their precious little pooch poop anywhere it pleases and then not bother to pick it up?  Well, we might have a solution for you:  a doggy doo-doo DNA testing service called PooPrints.  From the website:

We all love our pets. We also care about our environment and would do anything possible to keep our communities green and clean! With dog ownership rapidly increasing in the U.S., waste is really starting to “pile up” in communities like yours across the nation. We have the solution to your pet pollution, and we want you to get started today! 

Each property will have their own reference database to include all community dogs

To build your database, a DNA profile is created for each dog using a cheek swab collection kit

Samples are mailed to BioPet’s lab. DNA from cheek swabs are analyzed to create a unique genetic profile for each dog

Each genetic profile is uploaded to your property’s private and secure database provided through the DNA World Pet Registry

Once all genetic profiles are complete, PooPrints is fully enforceable by means of simple comparison