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911, What's Your Emergency?

Truly and honestly in property management, we do not encounter too many TRUE emergencies. And by true emergency, I mean the kind where someone's life is at risk. In fact, ::knock on wood:: in 10 years of management, I've only ever encountered one true emergency: a house fire that destroyed the house and was caused by 105º temperatures after 3 weeks of no rain, and the refraction of the sunlight onto the house from an adjacent greenhouse. Certainly not a common situation.


Still, there are other events in property management which warrant prompt action.


Water related issues. I could write a book on this almost literally. Water in part carved the Grand Canyon. Granted that didn't happen overnight, but it is continuing to happen as the years pass to this day. So now imagine water flowing through a house; what kind of damage could it do, even in a short period of time. Floods from storms, burst pipes, or even small leaks can cause huge amounts of damages; thousands and thousands of dollars. It's important always to take any water related issue seriously. The only time we ever take a little longer to respond to a water issue is if/when there is a leak from a faucet into a tub or sink, so long as there are no other obvious leaks in the surrounding area (i.e. at the faucet/wall, etc.).


Electrical related issues. The biggest problem here could be a fire. We don't always know the full history of homes, and cannot always predict what issues may be found in the walls. Still, we all have heard stories about fires resultant from electrical issues. Therefore, certain electrical issues would warrant accelerated or immediate response: smoking or popping electrical outlets/light fixtures/ceiling fans, etc. We also recommend flipping the corresponding breaker to eliminate the electrical current, until a licensed electrician can respond.


Heat. Notice I said HEAT and not HVAC. Air conditioning is not an emergency unless you do not have window screens! Additionally, if your home has two units, and one of them is not working, but the other one is, you definitely do not have an emergency. You have more air than someone who has only one unit. Back to heat: if your heat is out and the air temp is less than 40º F, then you have a legitimate emergency. DO NOT:

- Use your oven to heat the house

- Use any space heaters to heat the house. Electric, gas, kerosene, etc. All can lead to serious injury or death!

- Use the fireplace to heat the house unless it's been cleaned and inspected for the season.


Range, maybe. This depends. Do you have an alternate ability to cook in the house? I don't mean a microwave here. This means: if the oven goes out, is the cooktop portion still working, or vice versa? If so, then not an emergency. If the unit dies and all you have is a microwave, then definitely an emergency.


Toilets. This is its own separate category because it's one of those, "it depends" type situations. If one toilet had to be turned off because it was constantly running, for example, do you have another toilet in the house? If not, because you've got a 1 bathroom house, then this is definitely an emergency.


Sewer/septic backups. When this happens, it's always an emergency. Now, if your house is on City sewer (not a septic tank), and there is a backup, did you connect services? That's what we would check, first. Then send plumber or sewer company immediately. Septic is always an emergency because of the health aspects involved. That said, if it's due to a tenant caused clog, then we hope your checkbook is handy....


Mold. You won't believe how many people "suddenly" have health/breathing issues until they think they have mold in their home. They think citing this will warrant faster service. Did you know with every breath you take, you're breathing in mold spores? All sorts of things you cannot see that float in the air every single moment of every single day. I'm not saying there aren't legitimate people with health issues out there. But if you fielded the number of calls I have in the past 10 years, 100% of those calls had people with respiratory issues. Just saying. In any event. While we don't want you to live with mold, neither you nor I know what kind it is without a mold test. So we will call in a specialist, and will escalate to an emergency at the specialist's recommendation.


Fire. Don't call us. Call 911. Seriously. Get out, stand away from the building and call 911. My husband will show up (if he's working in your area and on shift that day), and they will handle appropriately from there. I hope you have renter's insurance if this happens.


Flood. Usually happens if you're in a flood zone and we have a major storm. Heed local warnings and evacuate if weather related! If due to a burst pipe: turn the water off at the main valve in the house, or at the street and call us immediately.


I'm sure there are things I have forgotten, but that's about it for emergencies. Everything else is pretty routine. Also remember if you're facing an issue, like heat or air, you're likely not alone. Please be patient with vendors, too. They are trying to service as many homes as possible. Still, should there every be an issue getting the vendor to schedule with you, make sure you alert the manager so they can help or have the vendor reassigned.