From blocked drains to malfunctioning AC units, there’s a lot that can go wrong with your property especially in the hot climate we live in. But instead of waiting until you have a fully-fledged problem on your hands, try adopting a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to property maintenance.

It’s worth bearing in mind that problems in the home caused by not looking after your house properly are not covered by your home insurance policy, and this applies to both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. And while some landlords cover the cost of regular maintenance, others do not, so it’s often up to you to look after the property. Here are a few simple and inexpensive ways to keep your home in tip-top condition and avoid those unwelcome maintenance bills:

Unclog your drains

Blocked drains can be costly to fix – and a real hassle, as Emma White, a resident of Jumeirah Village Triangle in the UAE recently discovered when the drains in her one-bedroom townhouse started playing up. “I noticed an unpleasant smell in my upstairs bathroom and before long there was filthy water spewing out all over the bathroom floor,” she recalled. “I called in a property maintenance company but by then the problem was so advanced that they came back four or five times and still struggled to solve the problem.”

In the end, specialists had to be called in and it cost White USD 550 to get her plumbing system in order, cash that would have been used somewhere else.

To avoid White’s predicament

  • Incorporate drain maintenance into your cleaning routine: place strainers over all plug holes to prevent hair and debris from clogging your drains
  • Avoid pouring grease down your kitchen sink as this will congeal in your pipes
  • Pour boiling water down your drains as often as possible and, once a week, pour a cup of distilled white vinegar or baking soda mixed with hot water down your drains.

Also, always have a plunger and some commercial drain cleaner handy in case you notice that your sink isn’t draining properly. Address your property issues immediately and you should be able to avoid any expensive call-outs.

Maintain your AC

It’s no secret that we are entirely reliant on air-conditioning for large swathes of the year, so AC maintenance should be a top priority. Make sure to get your AC serviced at least once a year. This will cost around USD 80 to USD 270 depending on the size of your property and the number of units that need to be serviced. However, it’s worth it. An unserviced system is more likely to conk out entirely and will be expensive to fix or replace.   Generally AC is in the contract for the landlord to maintain but again, not all contracts are the same.

Keep pests at bay

The warm climate presents ideal breeding conditions for a number of pests, particularly flying insects. Again, there’s no point waiting until you have a fly or, worse still, cockroach infestation and then calling in a costly pest control company – prevention is better than cure.

Good hygiene and effective housekeeping are your first line of defence; empty your bin as often as possible and don’t leave any food out on your counters; look out for holes in your skirting boards or in between your tiles where creepy crawlies might be hiding out and seal them with silicone. Also attach bristle strips to the bottom of your doors.

It’s also wise to check your fly screens for holes and make sure that your garden isn’t a hotspot for unwanted guests. Cut back hedges and bushes and clear up piles of leaves.

Watch out for bed bugs

Bed bugs are another common affliction in our warm climate and can be difficult to eradicate, so make sure you are washing bed linen on a regular basis at the right temperature – 60C degrees and above. Hoover your mattress regularly as well.

Manage the mould

Mildew is another common problem and is unhealthy as well as unattractive. The fungus-like organism can grow on any damp, flat surface, so check your tiles, windowsills and ceilings which for our climate would generally be in bathrooms. Air out your bathroom after every shower, keep extractor fans on and dry laundry and towels thoroughly after washing. If you do come across mildew, clean the affected area with undiluted bleach straight away.