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Evolution of Apartment Maintenance & Introduction to Apartment Maintenance


Intro to Multifamily Residential (Apartment) Maintenance: Chapter 1


Evolution of Apartment Maintenance


In this module, we will learn about systems in an apartment that need maintenance. We’ll also discuss how these systems have evolved over the years. Skip to quiz!


Apartment Maintenance


Apartment maintenance includes repairing damages that occur in multifamily residences. The ultimate goal is to make sure the buildings remain livable, safe, and comfortable for tenants and others on the premises.


Unlike single-family homes, multi-family properties have more than one housing unit. Multi-family homes are called duplexes, triplexes, or quadplexes, which refers to the number of units they contain.


Apartment maintenance covers a wide range of repair work. This includes:

  • Electrical systems,

  • Plumbing systems,

  • HVAC systems, and

  • Construction work.

Let’s learn about the evolution of these systems over the years.


History of Plumbing


Plumbing has played a significant part in how civilizations have evolved. The earliest plumbing pipes were made of baked clay and straw. The Egyptians made the first copper pipes.


For potable water use, galvanized iron piping was commonly used in the United States from the late 1800s until around 1960. After that period, copper piping took over.


World War II restricted iron, steel, and copper due to a material shortage. This forced the plumbing industry to start using new materials like plastics.


As time progressed, efforts were made to standardize regulations of plumbing systems in the United States. The first plumbing code was published in 1928. Today, we need to follow plumbing codes for plumbing installation and repair work on multifamily residences.


Depending on an apartment’s construction year, the plumbing system could be different. Proper maintenance work needs to be followed as per the plumbing technology used in an apartment.


History of Electricity


Much like plumbing, many developments have been made with electrical systems. The evolution of electricity began in the 17th century. Back in 1752, Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that lightning was a form of electricity with a kite experiment.


In September 1882, a house in America was powered by hydroelectricity. The station that powered the home used the direct current (DC) system developed by Thomas Edison. After Edison’s experiment, DC power in homes became mainstream.


In the late 1800s, DC could not be easily converted to high voltages. As a result, Edison proposed a small, local power plant that would power homes. With this system, power plants needed to be located within 1 mile of their end-users.


The limitation of the DC system made it challenging to distribute power in rural areas. Nikola Tesla, a student of Edison, believed that AC was a better option to use in homes. With transformers, power could be converted to higher or lower voltages much more easily and efficiently.


In the earliest days of home electrification, electricity was often carried place to place by bare copper wires with minimal cotton insulation. Sockets, switch handles, and fuse blocks were made of wood.


From about 1890 to 1910, knob and tube wiring was used for electric installation. Knob and tube wiring is open electric-wiring work. The wires are supported on knobs and encased in tubes where they pass through beams or partitions.


In this early setup, hot wires and neutral wires were run separately. They were insulated using rubberized cloth, which degraded over time. From the 1920s to the 1940s, insulated wires were enclosed in rigid metal tubes.


Electrical cable encased in metal sheathing was introduced in the early 1900s. These flexible armored cables were enclosed in rigid metal tubes. This offered some protection from wire damage.


During this time, the potential for danger was much higher than today because the equipment wasn’t grounded. If one of the hot wires became damaged, the electrical current would escape the wiring pathways. After 1965, equipment was grounded to direct electrical currents back into the ground to create a safer environment.


Apartment maintenance of electrical systems varies based on the technology present. We need to examine the technology used in equipment for carrying out any electrical maintenance work.


History of HVAC(R) Systems


In the past, people built houses with high ceilings and multiple windows to circulate air. This led to the invention of ductwork, which was used to distribute air throughout homes. This has been a lasting feature, as we still use ductwork in our current systems.


An example of an early AC system comes from the Chinese. The Chinese discovered that moving air on the skin creates a temporary cooling effect. So, they invented hand-operated fans.


To keep food cool, early Greeks and Romans covered storage pits with snow and tree branches. The storage pits acted like a natural cooler in the ground, and preserved food for a few days without spoiling.


Apartment maintenance for HVAC systems varies based on the type of HVAC system used in an apartment. We need to examine the technology used in an apartment before carrying out any maintenance work.


History of the Construction Industry


The construction industry began when humans started to build their own shelters. They used natural resources available around them. The first buildings were constructed by hand using stone tools.


The earliest building materials included bones (like mammoth ribs), bamboo, clay, and lime plaster. For example, the first bridges made by humans were just wooden logs placed across a stream, and later timber trackways.


Over time, humans refined their construction practices and started building more permanent structures. As humans abandoned nomadic life, these societies built permanent shelters. The Egyptian Pyramids are some of the first examples of large-scale, permanent structures.


Population growth and urbanization led to an increasing need for shelter developments. The construction industry in many parts of the world started to grow with increasing demand. With time, more advanced technology was being used in the building industry.


Focused attention was given to local building materials. Steel was mass-produced in the mid-19th century, and used in the form of I-beams and reinforced concrete. Glass panes also went into mass production and changed from luxury to every man’s property.


With the evolution of systems used in apartments, maintenance becomes complicated and mandatory. We will look into the importance of apartment maintenance in the next lesson.


Apartment maintenance covers a wide range of repair work including:

  • Electrical systems,

  • Plumbing systems,

  • HVAC systems, and

  • Carpentry systems.

With the evolution of systems used in apartments, maintenance becomes complicated and mandatory.


 

Introduction To Apartment Maintenance


In this module, we will learn about the skills and responsibilities of apartment maintenance technicians. We’ll also compare maintenance technicians with other trades. Skip to quiz!


Defining Maintenance


A poorly maintained building can create dangers and uncomfortable living conditions for those working or living there. This makes maintenance mandatory for an apartment.


The common problems in an apartment include:

  • Peeling paint,

  • Uneven walkways, and

  • Faulty plumbing, HVAC, or electrical systems.

Regular maintenance helps to prevent these unsafe environments.


There are various types of maintenance we can perform to prevent deterioration in a building. These include:

  • Preventive maintenance,

  • Condition-based maintenance,

  • Predetermined maintenance, and

  • Emergency maintenance.


Preventive maintenance is aimed at catching and fixing problems before they happen. It is most commonly carried out in regular inspections, usually occurring multiple times per year.


Condition-based maintenance is an advanced alternative to preventive maintenance. The systems are carefully observed for changes that could indicate coming failure. During this maintenance, we need to monitor specific parameters like the temperature and speed of a system.


Unlike other types, predetermined maintenance is carried out using suggestions by a manufacturer. But relying solely on a predetermined schedule may risk system failures, as technicians may not be able to predict problems. It can also cause multi-family maintenance teams to replace parts too early, resulting in additional costs.


A maintenance emergency is something that requires immediate attention. Emergency maintenance is performed for problems that could harm one's health or cause severe property damage if unresolved.


We often carry out preventive, condition-based, predetermined, and emergency maintenance for apartments. Different types of maintenance technicians perform this maintenance.


Maintenance technicians are categorized based on building type. This includes:

  • Plant maintenance technicians,

  • Apartment maintenance technicians,

  • Facilities maintenance technicians, and

  • Public works maintenance technicians.


Apartment Maintenance Technicians


Recall that the ultimate goal of apartment maintenance is to make sure the buildings remain livable, safe, and comfortable for tenants. An apartment maintenance technician performs this maintenance on assets, and is responsible for the upkeep of a facility.


The major systems that an apartment maintenance technician deal with are:

  • Electrical systems,

  • Plumbing systems,

  • Construction or carpentry work,

  • HVAC systems, and

  • Managing property exterior appearance.

Let’s go over each of them.


Plumbing system issues repaired by apartment maintenance technicians include replacing or installing faucets, toilets, and hot water tanks. Apartment technicians can fix minor problems with drainage systems, dishwashers, water-dispensing refrigerators, and washing machines, which are all affected by plumbing issues.


Electrical repair is another crucial responsibility for apartment maintenance technicians. They repair and replace power switches, fuses, and wall sockets. Technicians also troubleshoot electrical appliances such as ceiling lights, ceiling fans, climate control systems, and garage doors.


Applying new coats of paint for minor touch-ups and damage repair on walls is common for apartment maintenance technicians. They keep apartments visually appealing by using drywall to fill in small holes and cover-up normal wear and tear.


When renters change apartment units, the walls might get dirty and damaged. Maintenance technicians add a fresh coat of paint to get an apartment ready for a new tenant.


Maintenance technicians are also responsible for fixing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. When these systems fail due to minor issues at apartment complexes, they are immediately called upon to help make residents comfortable again.


Apartment maintenance technicians are responsible for helping an apartment complex maintain an attractive appearance at all times. They address many aspects of community presentation, including picking up trash and fixing any needed outdoor repairs.


Apartment Maintenance Technicians Vs Other Trades


Each of the maintenance tasks performed by an apartment maintenance technician are quick fixes and require an hour or less. For problems beyond a technicians' capabilities, like significant appliance malfunctions, they are forced to call outside contractors.


Recall that some of the specialized trades present in the maintenance industry are:

  • Electrician,

  • Plumber,

  • HVAC technician,

  • Carpenter, and

  • Appliance repair technician.

A contractor calls a suitable tradesperson depending on the problem.


The main difference between specialized tradespeople and maintenance technicians is that they can handle complex problems within a system. On the other hand, a maintenance technician can only solve quick fixes outside a system.


For example, in an apartment, the routine maintenance of air filters, thermostat setting, and replacement is done by a maintenance technician. But for more complex problems like refrigerant leaks or a broken compressor, the technician calls a contractor. The contractor then calls an HVAC technician to solve the problem.


Similarly, for plumbing problems, depending on the complexity of the problem, a technician calls a contractor. For example, the technician will call a contractor if their plunger will not remove a clog or clear a drain. The contractor then calls a plumber to solve the problem.


Maintenance technicians install and maintain low-voltage electrical systems. Low voltage is generally less than 50 volts, with little or no risk of fire or shock. Electricians work with high voltages of about 50 to 4160 volts.


If a home appliance, like a dryer, is not working in an apartment, the technician needs to test the dryer using a multimeter. If there is no power, we need to call a contractor instead of opening the electrical panel. This is because electricians can deal with higher voltages.


Skills and Responsibilities


The duties of a maintenance technician are:

  • Inspecting buildings, equipment, and systems to identify any issues.

  • Developing and implementing preventative maintenance procedures.

  • Helping to develop and implement a budget for the maintenance department.

  • Maintaining inventory records for equipment and supplies.

  • Ordering parts and supplies to maintain inventory.

  • Taking bids from and negotiating prices with vendors, contractors, and suppliers.

  • Recognizing when a job is above their skill level and requires more expertise.

  • Being available for periodic 24-hour on-call rotations to provide service in case of emergencies.


The following skills are essential for technicians to get the job done:

  • Troubleshooting skills,

  • Physical endurance,

  • Communication skills,

  • Organizational skills, and

  • Customer-service skills.


Work Ethics


The job of an apartment maintenance technician is physically strenuous and requires the ability to stand, lift, climb, bend, push, pull, and kneel. They often need to carry out many different tasks in a single day.


Maintenance workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Workers risk electrical shocks, falls, cuts, and bruises. This is why maintenance workers always need to wear safety gear while working.


Most general maintenance workers work full time, including evenings or weekends. Typically, they work a varied schedule of 40-60 hours a week. They also need to be available for periodic 24-hour on-call rotations to provide service in case of emergencies.


We often carry out preventive, condition-based, corrective, and emergency maintenance for apartments. Each of these maintenance types is completed by an apartment maintenance technician who specializes in quick fixes that require an hour or less.


The following skills are essential for technicians to get the job done:

  • Troubleshooting skills,

  • Physical endurance,

  • Communication skills,

  • Organizational skills, and

  • Customer-service skills.

They need to be available for periodic 24-hour on-call rotations to provide service in case of emergencies.


 

Question #1: What systems are included in apartment maintenance repair work? (select all that apply)

  1. Electrical systems

  2. Plumbing systems

  3. HVAC systems

  4. Intercity highway systems

  5. Construction work

Scroll down for the answer...

















Answer: Electrical systems,

Plumbing systems,

HVAC systems, and

Construction work

Apartment maintenance covers a wide range of repair work. This includes:

  • Electrical systems,

  • Plumbing systems,

  • HVAC systems, and

  • Construction work.


Question #2: What material was used for pipes in the past?

  1. Gold

  2. Silver

  3. Baked clay

  4. Aluminum

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Baked clay

The earliest plumbing pipes were made of baked clay and straw.


Question #3: Who demonstrated that lightning was a form of electricity with a kite experiment?

  1. Thomas Edison

  2. Benjamin Franklin

  3. Nikola Tesla

  4. J.D. Gibbs

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that lightning was a form of electricity with a kite experiment.


Question #4: What is the advantage of an AC system over a DC system of electricity?

  1. AC systems are less expensive than DC systems

  2. AC systems are safer to use than DC systems

  3. AC systems can be easily converted to high voltages

  4. AC electricity is easier to store than DC electricity

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Answer: AC systems can be easily converted to high voltages

AC systems can be easily converted to high voltages, whereas DC could not be easily converted to high voltages.


Question #5: Why does equipment need to be grounded?

  1. To reduce electricity cost

  2. To verify circuit

  3. To direct stray electrical currents back into the ground

  4. To make more electric power

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Answer: To direct stray electrical currents back into the ground

Equipment needs to be grounded to direct stray electrical currents back into the ground to create a safer environment.


Question #6: Which of the following is an example of a previous HVAC(R) system?

  1. People built houses with no windows to circulate air

  2. Humans made hand-operated fans to cool themselves

  3. Early Greeks stored their food in the ocean to cool beverages

  4. Early Romans used paper to cook food

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Answer: Humans made hand-operated fans to cool themselves

The Chinese made hand-operated fans to cool themselves. This was the beginning of our AC systems.


Question #7: Which of the following are materials used for construction during ancient times? (select all that apply)

  1. Bamboo

  2. Concrete

  3. Animal Bones

  4. Steel bars

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Answer: Bamboo

Animal Bones

The earliest building materials included bones (like mammoth ribs), bamboo, clay, and lime plaster.


Question #8: Which of the following is an example of an early large-scale permanent structure?

  1. Solar power plant

  2. Pyramid

  3. Aqueduct

  4. Bridge

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Answer: Pyramid

The Egyptian Pyramids are some of the first examples of large-scale, permanent structures.


Question #9: What are the different types of maintenance carried out by a technician? (select all that apply)

  1. Preventive maintenance

  2. Condition-based maintenance

  3. Corrective maintenance

  4. Location-based maintenance

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Preventive maintenance

Condition-based maintenance

Corrective maintenance

There are various types of maintenance we can perform to prevent deterioration in a building. These include:

  • Preventive maintenance,

  • Condition-based maintenance,

  • Corrective maintenance,

  • Predetermined maintenance.


Question #10: What parameters do we monitor during condition-based maintenance? (select all that apply)

  1. Toughness

  2. Temperature

  3. Density

  4. Speed

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Answer: Temperature

Speed

For condition-based maintenance, we need to monitor variables that could affect a system's functioning, like temperature and speed.


Question #11: What is emergency maintenance? (select all that apply)

  1. Maintenance as per the suggestions of a manufacturer

  2. Maintenance that requires immediate attention

  3. Maintenance done by monitoring variables that could affect the functioning of a system

  4. None of these

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Answer: Maintenance that requires immediate attention

A maintenance emergency is something that requires immediate attention.


Question #12: Which systems does an apartment maintenance technician repair? (select all that apply)

  1. Electrical systems

  2. Plumbing systems

  3. Construction or carpentry work

  4. HVAC systems

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Electrical systems

Plumbing systems

Construction or carpentry work

HVAC systems

The major systems that an apartment maintenance technician deals with are:

  • Electrical systems,

  • Plumbing systems,

  • Construction or carpentry work,

  • HVAC systems, and

  • Managing property exterior appearance.


Question #13: Which of the following issues can be solved by an apartment maintenance technician? (select all that apply)

  1. Paint damaged walls

  2. Replacing faucets

  3. Troubleshoot flame sensor of gas furnace

  4. Repair ceiling lights


Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Paint damaged walls

Replacing faucets

Repair ceiling lights

Maintenance technicians can fix minor issues like painting damaged walls, replacing faucets, and repairing ceiling lights.


Question #14: When does an apartment maintenance technician call an outside contractor? (select all that apply)

  1. When they need to order parts

  2. For maintaining inventory record

  3. When the problem is not able to be solved by the technician

  4. For negotiating for prices

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Answer: When the problem is not able to be solved by the technician

For problems beyond technicians' capabilities, like significant appliance malfunctions, they call outside contractors.


Question #15: What are the duties of an apartment maintenance technician? (select all that apply)

  1. Repairing refrigerant leakage

  2. Maintaining inventory records for equipment and supplies.

  3. Ordering parts and supplies to maintain inventory.

  4. Being available for periodic 24-hour on-call shifts.

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Maintaining inventory records for equipment and supplies.

Ordering parts and supplies to maintain inventory.

Being available for periodic 24-hour on-call shifts.

For problems beyond technicians' capabilities, like significant appliance malfunctions, they call outside contractors.


Question #16: What skills should apartment maintenance technicians have? (select all that apply)

  1. Customer-service skills

  2. Troubleshooting skills

  3. Reading and writing skills

  4. Communication skills

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Customer-service skills

Troubleshooting skills

Communication skills

The following skills are essential for technicians to get the job done:

  • Troubleshooting skills,

  • Physical endurance,

  • Communication skills,

  • Organizational skills, and

  • Customer-service skills.







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