Property Maintenance to Maintain a Healthy Home

By Nicole Tucker,2014-05-06 11:27
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Property Maintenance to Maintain a Healthy Home

    Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home

    Acknowledgement: This document was developed by ERT Associates

    and ICF Consulting for the Asthma Regional Council. Some information

    in this guide was taken from “Read This Before You Turn Over A Unit,” a

    pamphlet developed by Building Science Corporation. This guide

    supplements and provides additional tools to the information in that

    pamphlet. Special appreciation is provided to Affordable Comfort, Inc for

    its input.

This guide introduces property maintenance practices, particularly for multi-family housing

    properties, which improves or maintains a healthy home environment. After a brief overview,

    tools and resources are provided to assist property owners and managers, maintenance staff

    supervisors, and affordable housing program staff implement these maintenance practices.

Benefits of Good Maintenance Practices

All buildings require maintenance. Doing it right can benefit both the owner/manager and the


    ? Increase Durability. Homes with health risks to occupants often have conditions that

    can accelerate wear and tear on systems (e.g., heating and cooling) and cause

    structural damage (e.g., wood rot, mold).

    ? Reduce Cost. Replacing or fixing systems and components cost money. Small

    problems that are not corrected quickly can cause expensive problems in the future (e.g.,

    small water leaks can cause big mold and rotting problems).

    ? Improve Resident Health. Home conditions can both cause and trigger asthma and

    allergies. How a unit is turned over and maintained has significant effects on the control

    of asthma triggers and other indoor and outdoor contaminants.

    ? Reduce Liability. A failure to adequately address lead-based paint hazards, excess

    mold or moisture, and other environmental hazards is increasingly the subject of legal

    action. Adopting maintenance practices that address potential health hazards can

    reduce the likelihood of lawsuits and code violations.

Eight Steps to a Healthy Home

There are eight steps to a healthy home. Conduct maintenance to achieve each step.

    1. Dry. Water is a precondition for mold, insects, rodents, and dust mites all of which are

    linked with asthma. Water is also the most important factor affecting durability of a home

    and maintenance costs.

Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

     Page 1

    2. Cleanable. It is inevitable that a home will have some dust. The goal of a healthy home

    is to minimize dust brought into the home and to make it easier to clean and remove

    dust and allergens.

    3. Well Ventilated. Ventilation provides a mechanism to remove air contaminants and

    reduce dust allergens.

    4. Lead Safe. In homes built before 1978, deteriorating lead-based paint creates lead

    hazards in the dust and soil.

    5. Combustion Product Free. Combustion products such as carbon monoxide can cause

    severe health problems.

    6. Toxic Chemical Free. Toxic cleaning compounds, pesticides, oil- or alkyd-based paints

    and solvents can lead to poor indoor air quality.

    7. Pest Free. Pests can cause allergic reactions associated with asthma. Pest problems

    also encourage the use of pesticides. Controlling water, holes, and providing tight food

    storage help minimize pests.

    8. Comfortable. Uncomfortable homes can make people take action that makes a home

    unhealthy. For example, a resident without working air-conditioning may open a window,

    allowing pollen to enter the home.

Opportunities to Identify Problems and Perform Maintenance

In a multi-family housing property, there are usually several types of opportunities to examine a

    unit for conditions that need attention and to perform maintenance.

    ? Resident request. When a resident notifies the manager of a maintenance problem

    with the unit, such as a leaking water pipe, an appliance that is not working property, or

    a pest problem.

    ? Unit turnover. When cleaning and preparing a unit for a new resident.

    ? Upgrades or replacement. When the manager is upgrading or replacing an appliance

    or feature in several units at the same time, such as installing several new window unit

    air conditioners.

    ? Code Inspection. When a local code inspector is in a unit looking for code violations.

When inside the housing unit during these opportunities, identify and correct maintenance

    problems taking into consideration the eight steps described above. This will result in a

    healthier home for the residents and will have long-term benefits for the property owners and


Residents Have a Role in Good Maintenance

Since the property manager only has access to a unit on limited occasions, the residents also

    have a role to play in maintaining a healthy home environment. Encourage residents to:

    ? Report maintenance problems immediately. You can’t fix it, if you don’t know there is

    a problem. Make sure to be responsive to maintenance complaints.

    Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

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    ? Use walk off-mats. Either those provided in common areas, or personal mats inside

    the unit to collect dust from outside.

    ? Use bathroom and kitchen fans. Fans remove moisture and odors; install quiet and

    durable fans on timers.

    ? Maintain smoke alarms. Remind residents not to disconnect smoke alarms.

    ? Avoid or properly use and store pesticides and toxic chemicals.

Tools and Resources

Use these tools and resources to help your program or property incorporate maintenance

    practices that will lead to healthier homes.

    ? Checklist: Use this checklist when you turn over a unit, or add items from this to an

    existing checklist to ensure you consider all eight steps to a healthy home.

    ? Maintenance Solution. Use this chart to consider appropriate options for fixing a

    problem, or to ensure that you have identified the root cause of a problem, not just a


    ? Sample Work Orders. Sample work order and specifications for window maintenance

    and lead-based paint hazards can help ensure that these common maintenance

    activities are performed effectively.

    ? Resource List. Other resource with healthy homes information and materials.

    Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

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    Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist

Name of Inspector: _________________________ Date:___________________

Property Name and Address:________________________________________________


    1. Moisture

    Check these locations for water stains and wet spots: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? Under windows and doors, including sliding doors _______ ________

    ? Under sinks and dishwasher _______ ________

    ? Around toilets, tubs, and showers _______ ________

    ? Around washing machine connections _______ ________

    ? In crawl spaces and attic _______ ________

    ? On baseboards touching basements/floors _______ ________

    ? Near missing or moldy exterior siding _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    Also check for: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? Wet or moldy paper products stored below grade _______ ________

    ? Moisture attracting storage shelves particle board _______ ________

    ? No insulation on cold water pipes

    (leads to condensation) _______ ________

    ? Clogged gutters and downspouts _______ ________

    ? Washing machine hose connections not fully intact _______ ________

    ? Dryer vents to exterior not present or not functional _______ ________

    ? Dryer pan under refrigerator soiled or moldy _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010 Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist Page 4

    2. Cleanable Surfaces

    Check for dust, debris, mold, and conditions that

    make it difficult to effectively clean a surface: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? Dust and debris from repairs has been removed _______ ________

    ? Unit has system to remove tracked-in dust

    (e.g., walk-off mat, grate) _______ ________

    ? Carpet is not old, worn, or dusty _______ ________

    ? Crawl spaces and attic are clear of debris _______ ________

    ? Damage to tile surfaces, floor coverings, and

    wood floors with gaps that make it difficult

    to clean, or which collect dust _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    3. Ventilation

    Check for adequate ventilation: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? HVAC filter is proper size and efficiency _______ ________

    ? HVAC filter replaced within six months, rated

    At least MERV 9 _______ ________

    ? Fans in bath and kitchen work and exhaust outside _______ ________

    ? Exhaust ducts are clear _______ ________

    ? Good air flow to all rooms _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

    Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist Page 5

    4. Lead Safe

    In homes built before 1978, check for conditions that

    Pose a likely hazard if lead-based paint is present: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? Deteriorating and peeling paint, especially

    around windows and friction surfaces _______ ________

    ? Damage to painted surfaces _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    5. Combustion Safety

    Check for hazards related to combustion safety: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? All gas and oil fired appliances received

    maintenance check within the last six months _______ ________

    ? Exhaust ducts and flues are clear _______ ________

    ? Smoke alarms work properly _______ ________

    ? Carbon monoxide detector(s) working properly _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    6. Pests

    Check for the presence of insects and rodents: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? Evidence of insects or rodent droppings _______ ________

    ? Holes for insect or rodent entry into the building _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________

    Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

    Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist Page 6




    7. Toxic Chemicals

    Check for toxic chemicals: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? Toxic chemicals stored in the unit (e.g., pesticides,

    oil- or alkyd-based paints, and solvents) _______ ________

    ? Old chemical cleaners under sink or in storage _______ ________

    ? Chemical odors in the unit _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    8. Comfort

    Check for amenities contributing to comfort: Problem

     Checked Detected

    ? Working blinds to shield the interior from sunlight _______ ________

    ? Working screen/storm windows _______ ________

    ? Working windows _______ ________

    ? Working heating and air-conditioning _______ ________

     Actions Taken: ______________________________________________________




    Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010 Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist Page 7

    Sample Work Order

    Window Maintenance

Approximate labor time:

    3 hours (not including set-up or final cleanup)

Material list

    ? Inside stop and compression track


    ? Inside stop with weatherstripping ? Glazing and glazing points ? Glass as necessary

    ? Sash chain

    ? Linseed oil sealer, linseed oil primer and latex topcoat

    ? Wood filler

    ? Epoxy, epoxy primer

    ? Caulk and backer rod

    ? Wood glue and syringe

? Remove inside stop and lower parting bead

    ? Bring sash to dust room

    ? Remove damaged glass

    ? Remove weak glazing

    ? Remove exterior paint and loose interior paint ? Glue, pin, and/or epoxy corners as necessary ? Finish sand

    ? (Pre prime if necessary)

    ? Prime

    ? Reglaze into bed of glazing

    ? Double top coat

    ? Wet scrap and sand exterior jam and top sash ? Close-up, seal, and block up top sash

    ? Caulk, fill, and epoxy jamb and still as necessary ? Remove damaged all paint

    ? Prepare inside stool (remove paint from nose) ? Pre prime, prime, double topcoat

    ? Attach bottom sash to counterweights

    ? Reinstall sash in compression track


    ? Install weatherstripped inside stop

    ? Install sash lock and window lift

Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

    Sample Work Orders Page 15

    Work Criteria, Site Set-up,

    Sample Specification and Work Order

Specifications are designed for low and moderate income housing. Choices should be weighted

    against current market practices and prices. Costs may rise above the market but this increase

    must be small and the extra effort justifiable. For example “it will last three times as long” or

    "making your rental property mold and lead safe will help protect you from litigation."

1. Protecting the occupants - masking, containment, isolation and occupancy

    2. Protecting the workers -health and safety (particularly respiratory protection)

    3. Site set up- clean up, work area / occupant separation, dust room, scheduling in

    occupied units etc.

Each work protocol will be chosen taking into account five criteria (somewhat in the

    order of priority):

1. Immediate and long-term occupant health and safety

    2. Life cycle cost of installation or repair including projected energy-saving and

     maintenance costs

    3. Up-front labor and material cost

    4. Green and sustainable?

    5. Historic preservation

This is a sample specification and work order using a double-window as an example.

    To lower cost this spec fixes the top sash in-place. The top sash is usually already painted shut.

    Making it operative is relatively expensive. It is recommended at least one sash on each floor

    be made operative for effective ventilation. (This may include the installation of an effective

    window fan).

Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

    Sample Work Orders Page 16

    Double Hung Wood Window Maintenance


? Remove and discard inside stop.

    ? Remove and discard parting bead below top sash.

    ? Remove and number bottom sash (pin counterweight chain so it remains accessible)

Sash prep in dust room

? Remove and retain hardware.

    ? If needed remove glass and scrape rabbet clean

    ? Remove paint on exterior face of sash. Start with a hand scraper (mist surface as

    you work) to remove bulk of loose paint, locate and remove nails. ? The remaining paint can be removed with a planer or random orbital sander

    attached to a high efficiency vacuum.

    ? On exterior face of sash remove most of paint. Sound interior paint can be sanded

    but its probably worth it to remove interior paint as well ? If there is no rot- fill corner joints with using glue syringe

    ? If there is minor damage at corners - run glued through stiles into rail

    ? If there is sever rot at corners open joint, remove rot to bright wood (use die

    grinder) Fill with epoxy system designed for doors and windows (use primer not

    consolodent system)

    ? Do not compress. A sheet of plywood with edge guides set to the exact size of the

    sashes helps maintain consistent to the sash. (Cutting off the plywood’s corners

    allows you to work where the rail and stile meet.

    ? Sand once glue, and/or epoxy is cured

    ? Where glass is removed, reinstall it in a bed of elastomeric glazing compound. ? Secure glass with glazier points.

    ? Glaze and let cure overnight.

    ? Where wood face is severely weathered remove damaged surface and pre prime

    sash with boiled linseed oil cut %50 with paint thinner plus 1 bottle of mildewcide per


    ? Prime using a top-grade linseed oil based primer

    ? Top coat sash using a compatible latex topcoat. Let cure overnight.

    ? Apply second coat. Let cure overnight.

    ? Reinstall sash-lift hardware on bottom rail of bottom sash.

Exterior Jamb and top sash

    ? Mechanically strip most paint on the exterior jamb sill and top fixed-in-place top sash.

    Use hand scrapers (power tools may be used if attached to a high efficiency

    vacuum). If rotary tool is used, take care not to tear wood grain. ? Using die-grinder, remove decayed, soft and weathered wood, from jamb and sill. Property Maintenance for a Healthy Home (Draft) 5/6/2010

    Sample Work Orders Page 17

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