Electric Cars, Upgrading Vacant Units, and Water Heater Problems

Last Updated: December 14, 2009By

Dear Maintenance Men:

I’m exited about all the electric cars coming into the market starting at end of 2010. I plan on owning one myself!  My question is:  How do I make my apartment building electric car friendly?  I believe this will be the future and I want to have a leg up on the competition.  If I can rent my vacancy faster and for more money, I’m in!   What do I have to think about to convert my existing garages or parking areas to accommodate the electric cars of the future?  George

Dear George:
Wow!  You are really thinking ahead.  Good for you!  We also believe the future lies in the use of more and more green technologies.  In Southern California, the car is king and public transportation leaves a lot to be desired.  Electric cars make a lot of sense for those commuting thirty or forty miles a day.  Many of the new electric cars coming out will allow charging from a 110 volt/15amp outlet.  But, that is marginal at best.  We would recommend installing at minimum, a dedicated 240 volt/40 amp outlet in each stall or garage.  Optimally if you are going through the expense of running 240 volts, back it up with at least 80 to 100 amp service.  This will allow for future expansion and easily charge two 40 amp electric cars at one time.   The outlet station should be no more than 25 feet from the vehicle.  This is pretty heavy duty electrical work and we would recommend you use a qualified electrician who understands what you want to do.

Dear Maintenance Men:
I have a vacant unit ready to rent.  I have done most of the usual upgrades: new carpet, flooring, counter tops and paint etc.  But the unit still looks a bit dated.   Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Manny:
Sounds like you have done a lot of work to your units.  We recently walked a completed unit and were also struck by something being just not right, but it was hard to put our fingers on it.  Upon closer inspection, it hit us; the wall plugs and switches were the wrong color.  As a matter of fact, some even had a different colored cover to the plug, or some had been painted over.  This made the unit look dated, unfinished and sloppy. Electrical wall switches and plugs are easy to ignore and a bit time consuming to replace.  But, we removed each of the old switches and replaced them with square flat switches and did the same thing with the receptacles.  The hardware stores offer a number of colors, so try to match or contrast the existing wall color.  Now all the switches, plugs and plates were uniform and the vacant unit just came alive.  We also changed out dated light fixtures for newer modern lighting and replaced old tarnished door knobs and striker plates.  The unit looked finished and appeared more modern. These are subtle improvements like lipstick and mascara; transforms the ordinary to extraordinary.

Dear Maintenance Men:
My resident manager notified me that the 100 gallon rapid recovery water heater in the building’s laundry room was spewing soot.  The soot is covering the walls and ceiling and is dirty to the touch.  I have never seen a water heater do this; how can I fix this problem.

Dear Leslie:
Soot from a water heater of any size or gas appliance in general is not good and indicates a major problem.  This is not a do it yourself repair job.  Because of the health and safety issues involved, contact a licensed plumber or water heater expert to evaluate the problem and make the necessary corrections.  That being said, we can provide you with the three main reasons that would cause a water heater to spew soot.  One: The burner assembly under the tank is dirty; soot has formed on the assembly and is causing flame distortion and improper burning of the gas.  Essentially debris has caused restriction of the burner ports.   Second:  The air shutter opening directly under the burner head is restricted and causing improper burning of the fuel.   Third: The spiral baffles inside the water heater flue are deteriorated and causing a disruption in the air flow which causes soot to build up in the flue.  This could eventually produce a blockage which would force the burner flames to “rollout” from under the tank.  This would trigger a very dangerous situation in the location of the water heater.

If you need maintenance work, consultation or management 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  and  JLE Property Management, Inc. at 714 778-0480


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