What Is Considered Emergency Maintenance in an Apartment?

Emergency maintenance services are a lifesaver for renters.

But do you know when to request emergency maintenance in an apartment? In most cases, it is fairly obvious.

However, some situations will leave you scratching your head. 

The fact is, it’s not always easy to determine if the problem at hand qualifies as an emergency or not.

If you find yourself in the same predicament, scroll down to take a look at when you should (or shouldn’t) call in for emergency maintenance in an apartment.   

What is Considered Emergency Maintenance?

It is advisable to request emergency maintenance as soon as you face any of the following situations.

Flooding or Broken Water Line  

A minor leak that can be contained for a few hours is not considered an emergency.

However, if your apartment is flooded and excess water poses a risk of damage to your possessions or the apartment, you should not wait to call emergency maintenance services.

In the meantime, try to turn off the valve that supplies water to the broken pipe. You can also consider turning off the exterior water main if you are able to locate the water main.

Do everything in your power to contain the leak and limit the spread of water as much as you can.

It is also a good idea to inform your neighbors or other residents of the situation if the leak may impact them.

Fire in the Apartment

It is recommended to keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times. But what to do if a fire breaks out in the apartment and you are unable to contain it immediately?

Well, it certainly counts as an emergency that requires you to call the emergency maintenance services immediately.

However, first, you must call 911, and then alert the maintenance department.

If there is a fire alarm in the apartment building, ringing it might be a good way of alerting other residents of the fire hazard.

Vacate the apartment and get to a safe location away as soon as you have alerted the authorities of the fire danger.  

Carbon Monoxide (CO) In the Apartment

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas.

However, it is injurious to health, and inhaling in the presence of carbon monoxide can lead to serious health problems and even death.

It is produced whenever a material burns, which means you can have a carbon monoxide leak in your apartment, especially if you have fuel-burning appliances.

The most common sources of carbon monoxide in apartments include stoves, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, lanterns, and furnaces. 

This makes it essential to install a carbon monoxide detector system in your apartment.

These detector systems are readily available in most hardware or home improvement stores. It is advisable to inform the concerned authorities as soon as the alarm goes off. 

Open all windows and vacate the apartment immediately. You must also call 911 if you or anyone else from the family exhibits the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The poisoning symptoms can range from mild flu-like symptoms to severe reactions.

In either case, immediate medical attention is crucial. Here is a list of symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

  • Weakness 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness 
  • Confusion 
  • Chest pain 
  • Vomiting 

Untimely HVAC Troubles

This is a tricky one. Whether the problem with your HVAC system is considered an emergency or not, depends on the weather of your area.

In most apartment communities, HVAC troubles require emergency maintenance only when the weather is above or below a certain temperature.

Most apartments have set temperature ranges for emergency HVAC services.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask the contractor about HVAC maintenance rules beforehand.

However, the general rule of thumb is that you should call emergency maintenance services if the AC unit in the apartment stops working while the temperature outside is above 90 degrees.

Similarly, if the heating unit stops and it’s freezing outside, you should call for emergency service.

 It must be stated that the maintenance department would not be able to help you if the utility is shut off due to nonpayment.

Similarly, if the power in your area is out due to bad weather conditions or any reason, emergency maintenance won’t be able to resolve the problem.

Broken Gas Line or Gas Leak

A gas leak is a fire hazard. Even the tiniest spark can lead to a major fire incident inside the apartment if there is a gas leak.

It can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. However, natural gas has an unmistakable odor when the leak is significant. This makes it easy to detect it in an apartment.

You can also rely on signs other than the smell of the gas to detect a leak. It is recommended to evacuate the apartment immediately if you experience any of the following.

  • Notice an odor of Sulphur or rotten eggs
  • Hear a hissing sound coming from the gas line 
  • Find a damaged gas pipe or connection 

Avoid lighting fire or touching electrical appliances if you suspect a gas leak. Instead, open all the windows and doors, and leave the apartment at once.

Contact emergency maintenance services once you have safely removed yourself and other residents from the apartment.

Along with the emergency maintenance services, you can also report the leak to a gas company and alert the local fire department.  

Sewer Back-Up 

Sewer blockage is a common problem faced by renters in apartments. However, a clogged toilet is not considered an emergency as long as it is not flooding in the apartment.

It is important to understand that sewer back-up flooding can not only cause damage to property, but it may also be harmful to health.

Sewage back-up may release airborne contaminants inside your home. This is especially true if sewer back-up transfers harmful gases from the main sewer inside your house.

Inhaling these contaminants can lead to health concerns, such as gastroenteritis, vomiting, cramping, etc.

On the other hand, physical contaminants leaking out of the toilet are also highly dangerous.

For all these reasons, it is recommended to call emergency maintenance services if the sewer is backing up and can damage your possessions, property, or health.

In the meantime, try to contain the leak or flooding as much as you can. It must be stated that a full-blown sewer back-up flooding rarely happens out of the blue.

You can avoid this situation by engaging in regular maintenance. Here is a list of signs that indicate that your sewer may back-up soon.

  • A foul odor coming from the drains 
  • Slow draining laundry lines and bathtubs 
  • Water back-up in the toilet, shower, sink, etc.

If you notice any of these signs, call for regular maintenance to check the plumbing conditions in the apartment.

Don’t wait around for the sewer to block completely and spew harmful physical or gaseous contaminants inside your house.  

What Does Not Require Emergency Maintenance?

It is important to understand that not all maintenance issues qualify as an emergency.

For example, if you find a minor leak under your kitchen in the middle of the night that does not pose a serious threat to you, your possessions, or the apartment, it is better to contain it with a bucket and wait till the morning to call for help.

Here are some maintenance issues that generally do not require emergency maintenance

  • A broken heater when the temperature outside is not freezing (above 50 degrees).
  • A broken AC unit when the temperature outside is (below 50 degrees).
  • A blown-fuse, faulty light bulb, partial power outage, etc. 
  • No supply of warm water 
  • The stove burner stops heating up
  • Ice maker stops working  

Keep in mind that while minor issues can hold for some time, you should never ignore them completely. A bucket is not a permanent solution.

So, make sure you report the issue to the maintenance department.

They will send in their experts to take care of the problem during normal business hours.

Be aware that it may take them anywhere from a few hours to days to get to you because they need to tackle emergencies first.

The Bottom Line

Emergency maintenance services are provided to deal with emergencies only. Therefore, it is not the best idea to call the contractor after office hours every time you face a minor maintenance issue. 

However, if you determine an issue is an emergency, do not delay putting in an emergency maintenance request.

Requesting assistance quickly and efficiently can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Also, engage in regular maintenance to avoid ending up in emergency situations. 

In the end, it boils down to your better judgment. If an issue poses a threat to you or your property, it must be resolved immediately. Do not hesitate to call emergency maintenance!    

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