Many self-storage managers have the distinct advantage (or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it) of living on the property where they are employed. If this applies to you, I hope to give you some hints on how to make your home and business just a little bit nicer. For the most part, management companies concentrate on the business and sometimes forget that an onsite apartment’s maintenance can be just as important as maintaining the storage facility.
Open and Shut Case
Let’s start by looking at what I call the seals. Windows and doors are main areas where blowing dust and dirt can penetrate if the proper seal is not maintained. Start by checking around windows for caulking that has cracked or been penetrated. If necessary, I recommend removing the old caulk and starting fresh. Be sure to buy quality product and apply it meticulously. If done correctly, it’s possible to prevent dirt and debris from coming into your home/office and will save money on heating and cooling. Mention these points to your owner to justify the work.
How about your door openings? Again, check to see they are properly set, thresholds are firm and all screens and windows are in good shape. If a screen or window is torn or broken, now’s the time to replace it. If your threshold is not properly seated, install a new one. These tasks are relatively simple, and your local hardware professional can provide proper instructions on how to replace them.
If you live in a particularly dusty environment, contact your local heating-and-cooling contractor about duct cleaning. Each year I have a company “vacuum” the ducts to remove dirt and dust, which helps my air-conditioning unit and heater work more efficiently and longer.
Of course, I also maintain a regular monthly schedule of changing return-air filters (usually, my electric bill reminds me). Based on advice from several contractors, I use a good but inexpensive filter, which goes a long way in keeping the premises fresher. Last but not least, have your heating and cooling systems checked annually by a professional. The service cost is easily justified when one considers the price tag of a new unit. A quick checkup can prolong the life of your system for months, even years.
I also take a monthly tour around my house on the lookout for unwanted birds, bees and wasp nests. Armed with my can of spray (check with your local pest-control company for the best kind), I cautiously destroy any bee or wasp nests under my roof eves. If I have birds’ nests, especially invasive woodpeckers, I relocate them to safer quarters where they can’t harm my home.
The same goes for rodents (such as pack rats or mice) or reptilian creatures (snakes and lizards). It’s amazing how these critters can make your home theirs. They’re fast to set up residence, so be sure to check regularly and act promptly. Of course, use caution in doing so. If this task makes you uncomfortable or jeopardizes your safety, call your local pest-control company pronto.
Walkways and Driveways
Don’t forget to put your personal sidewalks and driveways on your maintenance list as well. Cracked asphalt allows water to permeate underneath and compromise the structure. Filling the cracks is an easy application process—a quick do-it-yourself project—that goes a long way in preventing further decay and people tripping and hurting themselves. If this is beyond your skill level, contact a local masonry contractor for professional service.
While I’m checking the sideways and byways of my property, I also take the time to freshen up planters with new flowers or plants. It’s amazing how many people will take notice of these, especially during the spring and summer.
The summer is the best time to inspect water valves, too, checking for exposed piping and damage that occurred over the winter or spring. I keep an eye on all irrigation connections, valves and sprinkler heads, replacing them if needed. Check around the water meter for leaks. If something is awry, repair it immediately. This simple step can save hundreds of dollars.
Finally, make sure electrical wiring is not exposed anywhere. Even properly installed wiring can make an appearance now and then. While you’re at it, check all exposed conduit and assure it’s still in good shape.
After a good week of fixing and inspecting, I plan on sitting on my front porch with a cold beverage in hand while my wonderful wife fixes up the hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob and, of course, freshly cut watermelon. Even if she doesn’t, I still know our home has been maintained and is ready for us to enjoy this wonderful time of the year. I hope you can do the same, in your own self-storage home.
Mel Holsinger is the president of Tucson, Ariz.-based Professional Self Storage Management, which offers self-storage facility management, consulting and development services. He is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences and a regular contributor to Inside Self-Storage. For more information, call 520.319.2164; visit www.proselfstorage.com.