How to Maintain Your Condo Investment
Aug 11, 2021 August 11, 2021
Whether you choose to live in, use it as a second home, or rent it out full time, your condo is one of your most valuable assets. And just like any other investment, it requires regular maintenance and upkeep to avoid tiny issues snowballing into major expenses.
Compared to a home, one of the biggest perks of living in a condo is that you’re only responsible for maintaining everything “walls in,” while the HOA (or condo board) takes care of everything else. This means your unit (and everything in it) is all you need to worry about, while the pool, gym, landscaping, building exterior, roof, hallways, stairways, and all other amenities are cleaned and maintained by a professional staff.
So, what can and should you do to take care of your home and investment? The number one cause of loss in condos is water damage. So below, we’ll be discussing pointers that, while they may seem simple, will help keep your condo in top shape, all year long, year after year, and prevent water damage.
We’re also including a cheat sheet right at the end of this post, just in case you, your housekeeper, or manager need a handy checklist.
Why Do I Need to Maintain My Condo Investment?
Condo cleaning and maintenance go deeper than face value. A well-kept condo not only looks great but more importantly means you’re preserving its market value by maintaining key components of your unit, that if not looked after, can become big and expensive issues down the road. Knowing what and how to take care of your condo investment means you are protecting your asset.
To live in your condo… If you live in your condo, then you are using it regularly, and you are in the best position to maintain it. And wherever you live, you want peace of mind that your home is healthy. With all the cogs in the machine working well, you’ll be keeping damages to a bare minimum, repair costs low and increasing the longevity of your unit by preventing minor issues from becoming full-fledged hazards.
To rent your condo… For those renting out their investment condo, regular maintenance checks are absolutely a must. While many renters are excellent tenants, they aren’t invested in the unit like an owner is. They also often don’t know as much as about home ownership or how to handle common maintenance issues.
If you are renting out your condo, regular maintenance can help increase your property value, prevent major issues like expensive renovations or mold, and make it stand out to the right tenants.
To keep insurance premiums low… For those looking to keep their insurance costs down, a well-maintained condo will help to keep your premiums low. Knowing that your appliances, A/C unit, water heater and more are running efficiently, your unit will be low-risk for potential hazards and damages that could result in a claim, which could increase your premium.
Cleaning House: Deep Cleaning Matters
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All residences need regular cleaning, including sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, mopping and disinfecting. The basics. And while regular cleaning is important, when it comes to protecting and maintaining your condo investment, you’ve got to make sure you go beneath the surface and include deep cleaning.
Deep Cleaning Essentials to Maintain Your Condo
We highly recommend deep cleaning your condo about once a month. How you tackle your condo’s deep cleaning schedule is entirely up to you, but here are the key areas that will require special attention:
Your Condo’s Common Living Areas. Your common areas get the most use and traffic. They’ll be the first areas to see wear and tear and also the first to show it. When deep cleaning your condo’s most used areas, be sure to check for any early signs of damage to the flooring, the seals to all doors to the exterior, and clean the tracks for all doors and windows.
In addition, be sure keep a periscopic eye out for dust bunnies, mold, cobwebs, and possible infestations in hidden corners or areas where you have indoor plants. Pay close attention to far-to-reach areas under or behind the furniture, window treatments, light fixtures, ceiling fans, crown molding, and ceiling corners. Also, give all your rugs, cloth curtains, throws, cushion covers, etc. a wash, at least once a month, and have special rugs cleaned twice a year.
Pro Tip: If you have wooden floors, switch out mopping for sweeping, swiffering and vacuuming to keep them from buckling.
Baseboards. Considering most condos have white baseboards, they should be on your deep cleaning schedule once a month. Baseboards are not just cosmetic or a fancy architectural design element. Baseboards also act as a seal between the flooring and the wall, protecting against water damage, particularly to drywall, which is highly water sensitive. So, keep an eye out for any cracks, separations in caulking or dents in your baseboards and have them addressed as soon as possible.
Kitchen. In the kitchen, counters and backsplashes are similar to walls and baseboards. Deep clean these areas for any mold or mildew, and check for any separation in caulking that could allow water get into your cabinets or under the sink. Besides the counters, check in the cabinet under your sink once a month for any smalls leaks, cleaning solution spills, or moisture that could allow mold or mildew to grow. If you have a bar, check under that cabinet as well.
Bathrooms. When it comes to deep cleaning, tile grout, drain gunk, and the often-neglected areas under the sink and toilet should top your list. Keep an eye out for cracks in tile grout, separating tiles or cracks in the shower floor, where moisture could seep through. One of the most common condo leaks is through the shower pan.
How to Maintain and Care for Major Appliances and Fixtures
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Maintaining Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System and Water Heater
The health of your home is dependent on the health of its key systems, mainly its HVAC and plumbing systems. While some of your condo’s HVAC and plumbing may be in shared walls, and some building have a main boiler, your own A/C unit and water heater typically will be your responsibility. Additionally, these are the two most common fixtures in a condo that, when not properly maintained, can cause major damage.
Air Conditioner (A/C)
Your air conditioning (and heating) system uses vents to collect warmer air in your house, and after passing through a filter, cool it through an evaporation process using coils, drain the condensation produced, and recirculate the cold air again in the house. However, this process is dependent on good maintenance to keep your house cooled and to prevent excess moisture and leaks, which, in humid climates (like South Florida), can lead to mold.
Here are essential tips to follow to maintain your condo unit’s A/C system:
- Always replace your filters monthly. Your filters keep dust, pet hair, and other microscopic pollutants from building up on the A/C coils. In addition, they help the air you breathe and your house cleaner. One of the most common reasons an A/C unit breaks down is because of dirty coils, which stresses the system. So use replace your filter monthly to ensure proper airflow.
- Check your condensate line and drain regularly. The condensation from your A/C goes into your drain pan, and then drains through a small pipe. Sometimes this pipe can become clogged. An easy way to prevent this is to add A/C tablets to your drain pan to flush the line.
- Once a year, have an A/C specialist check your A/C system and refrigerant levels, and clean your ducts and coils if necessary to maintain cooling efficiency and have fresh, clean air.
- At least once a year, check your A/C closet for any leaks, musty smells, or visible mold.
Water heaters do not require much maintenance, in general. They are often placed in the same closet as the A/C, so it’s easy to check both at the same time. But here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If your water heater and A/C unit are in the same closet, check your water heater each time you change your A/C filter for any rust or possible leaks. And if you have wood floors, always check the area around the water heater for any warping or buckling of the floors, which would indicate water intrusion.
- Try to keep the area around the water heater clear to avoid any hazards.
- If you’re going on an extended vacation, turn the thermostat down when leaving town.
Pro Tip: Consider installing a leak detector right next to your water heater pan on the floor. If your A/C closet is in a different area than your water heater, place a leak detector on the floor in area as well. This will immediately alert you to any water leaks. There are many “smart” water leak detectors available that will send you alerts using wi-fi or that can be used in addition to a smart water shutoff valve – a great solution for those renting their condo or using their condo as a vacation or second home.
Maintaining Your Home Appliances
When to comes to the appliances inside your condo -- the refrigerator, washer and dryer, dishwasher -- our best advice is to buy an extended warranty if your condo unit is not brand-new. There are many home appliance service and repair programs that are worth the cost should one of your appliances break or need replacement parts.
Here are some key tips to maintain each common home appliance:
Washing Machine and Dryer
Your washing machine and dryer are two of the most frequently used appliances in a home, so here are a few pointers to keep them in good shape:
- Washer: Leave the washing machine door open every now and then to help it dry and avoid any unpleasant odors from building up.
- Washer: Once a month do an empty wash cycle with vinegar or an appliance cleaner to clean away any potential mildew.
- Dryer: Clean the lint filter after every use. This is one of the simplest ways to keep your dryer running smoothly for longer. This also prevents lint build-up in the dryer vent (see below).
- Dryer: Have your dryer vents checked frequently for any lint build-up. Clogged dryer vents make it harder for your dryer to work, and lint buildup can also cause accidental fires.
- Keep your washer/dryer at least 4 inches from the wall to avoid water hoses from kinking.
- Check all water hoses for cracks, leaks, or bulges and replace them as soon as you find any issues.
Dishwashers are built to be one of the more reliable appliances in your home that can easily last 10-15 years with proper care. We recommend the following checks to avoid running into any costly problems in the long run:
- Clean out your dishwasher’s filter regularly to avoid any debris or unpleasant odors.
- Use an empty “hot” wash cycle with white vinegar or an appliance cleaner every few months to decrease lime buildup, remove residual food particles, and kill any bacteria.
- Clean the dishwasher’s seal or gasket frequently to avoid any leaks.
- Check the spinning arm-holes for clogging - use a toothbrush to remove any debris or food particles blocking the holes.
Prevent Costly Water Damage, Mold and Mildew
When it comes to maintaining your condo investment, particularly in Florida, one of the most important things you can do is never underestimate moisture. If you find moisture in your house, get it dried quickly, and if there’s an active leak, treat it like it’s fire. Any moisture, even the smallest of a leaky faucet drip under a cabinet, will end up unsightly, a big repair or eventually turn into mold, which not only can cause very expensive repairs, but is also a health hazard.
Yes, one of the biggest attractions of living in a place like Miami is easy access to the beach, great weather year-round, and plenty of cool ocean breeze to help you cool off. But one of the downsides of living in a tropical climate is having to deal with excess moisture, humidity, and mold. Mold spores are naturally abundant in the air in tropical climates, and they thrive on humidity. But mold will become one of the most costly and aggravating repairs in a condo.
Here are key checks to help you stay on top of any potential moisture or mold problems below:
- Never open your terrace or balcony doors while your A/C is on. If you want to open your doors, turn your A/C very high or off. Leaving balcony doors or windows open will quickly create condensation around registers, which is the perfect recipe for mold. Once mold gets into your A/C system, you are looking at very expensive repairs and health concerns.
- Inspect your A/C unit every few months (or hire a professional) to check for mold, especially around damp areas and in closed spaces like cupboards, and get it treated as soon as possible. Mold isn’t just about unsightly patches that ruin your condo investment’s aesthetic appeal, but it can also cause major respiratory and skin problems.
- Use detergent or a mold cleaner to nip any infestations in the bud before they snowball into major headaches.
- Consider installing smart water leak detectors in addition to smart water shutoff valves to instantly alert you on leaks and keep the condo from flooding if you’re away. Top places for installation include under sinks, near a/c drains, underneath water heater valves, and close to water hoses connected to your dishwasher or washing machine.
- Regularly check your window and door seals for any gaps or aging seals (see below for more).
Regular Safety and Maintenance Checks
Finally, maintaining your condo investment also involves some common sense regarding safety.
- Electrical Wiring – While we don’t expect you to be an electrician, faulty wiring and other electrical issues definitely give us signals. Keep an eye out for flickering lights, outlets that don’t seem to work well, faulty switches, and other electrical issues. Get them checked promptly to prevent any major fire hazards. We also recommend keeping a regular check on your breaker panel to ensure performance and safety.
- Smoke and CO2 Detectors – Smoke detectors are required by law inside condo units. And while a lot of owners and tenants tend to resolve beeping detectors by just pulling them out, replacing the batteries every six months to a year is a smarter option. And it may just save your life.
- Fire Extinguishers – They are the next best thing to have in your condo after CO2 detectors. Make sure to have one in your condo at all times. You should also test extinguishers on a regular basis, and replace any if they don’t work.
Note: It is cheaper to replace fire extinguishers than an entire condo unit!
- Doors and Windows – While most people tend to overlook their windows and doors, we highly recommend keeping your doors and windows in top shape. Make sure to service and oil balcony doors and windows regularly. If the springs stop working on your windows, they can drop, and that is a huge hazard. Also, if your balcony door starts rumbling or sticking, make sure to have it checked by a professional. Properly working windows and doors help prevent moisture and also are key when living in areas prone to storms and weather events.
Pro Tip: In case you need a balcony door specialist in Miami, we’ll be more than happy to make a recommendation.
A few timely checks and regular maintenance can go a long way in increasing the value of your condo investment. Regardless of how long you live/hold on to your condo, it will serve you will well if you decide to put in just a little time and care. If you need help looking for a well-maintained condo investment in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, reach out and a local expert will be happy to connect you with the perfect property for your residential or investment goals.
How to Maintain Your Condo Investment Checklist
Here’s a quick recap on how to keep your unit safe to live in and protect your condo investment to serve you better for years to come. You can even download this condo maintenance checklist and keep it handy for whoever’s on cleaning duty:
- Dust, sweep, vacuum, mop.
- Wipe down all counters and cabinets. De-clutter while you’re at it.
- Empty, clean, and defrost (if required) the refrigerator.
- Scrub the stovetop, oven, microwave, and coffee maker, inside-out.
- Clean and disinfect all doors, windows, and mirrors.
- Clean inside and under the sinks plus toilet bowls.
- Clean out grout wherever you have tiles.
- Wash, clean, disinfect all rugs, carpets, cloth curtains, pillow covers, and bedding.
- Get an extended warranty for your appliances if they’re not brand-new.
- Air conditioners – Seasonally check, clean, or replace filters, coils, refrigerant levels, drain pans, and ducts.
- Water Heaters – Drain water seasonally, switch to “vacation” mode when out of town, check pressure valves for leaks.
- Washing Machine/Dryer – Keep lint filters and dryer vents clean, check all water hoses for leaks or damage.
- Dishwasher – Clean out the filter, run a hot cycle with white vinegar every few months, clean out the gasket.
- Check for mold at least once a month or hire a professional to stay on top of possible infestations.
- Install smart water leak detectors and smart water shutoff valves if you plan to stay away for long or simply wish to stay stress-free.
- Make sure all electrical wiring, plumbing, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, plus doors and windows work properly in your condo to avoid fire and other hazards.