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Two Secret Weapons for Investors

Every real estate investor should own one of these. It’s a portable pump, an extension cord and a garden hose.

I’m spending part of my Tuesday morning at a client’s house. The buyers did their inspection and noticed the sump pump wasn’t working, leaving the water levels in the sump only 4-6″ from the top. Since we’re right in the middle of spring melt, this could be a big problem.

Fortunately they let me know, I grabbed the trusty pump (which was in Brent’s garage – it’s nice to have good friends) and now the sump is nearly empty. We’ll be back every day or two until the new one gets installed (est $300-400) but it’s worth it to keep the basement from flooding. That’d make my clients angry and make it a little tougher to make sure we get their house sold.

The lesson here comes in two parts.

First, pay attention to the drainage around your properties. This obviously includes sump pumps. You or your tenants should check the sumps twice a year (I like early spring and fall). Remember, not all properties have sump pumps, so the other drainage issues should be considered too. That means lot grading/drainage, where you pile snow and the eaves/downspouts and their extensions. Make sure you know where the snow will go when it melts. The City of Edmonton has a great little brochure on sump pumps (PDF).

Second, have the right tools handy. If you’re self-managing even 2-3, one of these small portable pumps is a great investment. You should also consider a good box fan and know where to rent an industrial strength fan. Chances are you’ll have water in the basement in one of your properties eventually. You need to find out the source, remove the water and peel back the carpet/underlay to get it nice and dry. If you’ve got a sewage backup or drywall damage that can get more complex, but hopefully your tenants are like mine and let you know asap when issues involving water occur.

Two little tips that I’ve learned from experience will save you some time and cleaning. First, I tend to put the hose into the bath tub, since it’s large and you’re less likely to get water all over the place. Make sure you rinse it out since you’ve likely sucked up some sand and it can stain your tub. The second tip is to secure the end of the hose like I have here. It’s no fun when you plug in the pump and the water makes the end of the hose whip out of the tub, spraying water all over your vanity and floor.

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