After living a life going from job to job I finally feel like this is the place for me. My complex is located in metro Detroit. I have been here just about one year but feel like I have done enough work and have stories like I have been here for five. I know a lot of people rent apartments and they might have questions about maintenance or other aspects of apartment living. Today is a slow day for me so AMA!


Comments: 224 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

pighalf112 karma

As a maintenance man, have you ever taught karate to a troubled teen that lives with a single working mom and was bullied in school?

milkid30 karma

Furthermore, do you own a few vintage cars that are just in need of washing and waxing?

thelordofcheese28 karma

Also, would you open a bonsai tree store with me so I can avoid going to college?

bjelmore22 karma

You got it buddy.

TravisCan26 karma

I live in a "luxury" loft that has 2 maintenance people for 9 buildings. Anytime we call we get the run around about there always being an emergency. Our ice machine went weeks without being fixed, our Dryer went 16 days without being fixed, and we were infested with sugar ants for a week before they ever sent an exterminator. Each building has 1 luxury 2 bedroom loft with extra amenities (extra parking spaces, pool keys, elevator, etc...) and we are in one of them. We pay a stupid amount of money to live here, and there is always some pressing issue that takes precedent, even tho we are constantly seeing our maintenance guys sitting out and drinking soda on the golf carts, or sitting inside the office, or shooting the shit in the parking lots...

I have directly asked our property managers what's up, because there are some times that it's just comical how ridiculous the excuses are for why they haven't shown up, cancelled, re-scheduled, or straight up lied.

As a maintenance man, what would your advice be for dealing with this kind of stupid shit?

bjelmore29 karma

I think you went about it the right way. Climb the chain of command until you get an answer. I have three bosses all in a line. Talk to a supervisor, then assistant manager, then finally the property manager. Still no answers from the property manager then go to corporate.

TravisCan14 karma

My only concern with this, is sometimes if you call the office, you get the property manager. Like, she will literally answer the phone. And she's as useless as it gets.

I guess, realistically, I'm asking if I report her to corporate, am I going to be living in hell on my property if they don't do anything?

bjelmore25 karma

No, absolutely not. You just want an honest answer. If that means going over the property managers head then so be it. Retaliation is against the law.

farewelloldaccount25 karma

What level do you think tenants should maintain their own unit? I would think that something like a toilet plunge would be the job of the tenant. I don't know though because I haven't lived I a complex with an on call maintenance crew.

bjelmore34 karma

A clogged toilet is an emergency because you don't know if it might overflow causing an even bigger problem. Just let us take care of things because that way if we mess it up its on us and not charged back to the resident.

BobC81317 karma

My first step when my toilet clogs is to shut off the water line, then plunge. No running water, no overflow, right?

bjelmore6 karma


OptimumCorridor24 karma

What's the weirdest tenant responsibility issue you've been called to? Did you help out?

bjelmore84 karma

One weird one I remember is getting called out for a clogged toilet. Now I'm not one to brag but even the most stubborn of clogs I am able to get with a plunger. I had to bring in a hand snake to clear her toilet and ended up pulling up a huge poop encrusted weave. It was epic. Didn't eat lunch that day.

im_always_fapping7 karma

Glad I ate before reading that.

bjelmore29 karma

It was tasty.

sexrockandroll20 karma

What's the most common maintenance call you get, that is a call that requires your work?

What's the most common maintenance call you get, that the tenant could have solved themselves?

bjelmore33 karma

Most common call that requires my work is a/c in the summer and no heats in the winter. What residents need to realize sometimes is that when you lose power to a small area of the apartment most likely a breaker has been tripped. But it's calls like those that make me big bucks in overtime.

crazytr9 karma

do the apartments have breakers in their units? I know some complexes have them in maintenance closets that the units don't have access too.

bjelmore10 karma

Oh yeah, each apartment has their own breaker. There is a main feed that has its own shutoff in the mech room.


Who calls maintenance to plunge their toilet? One of those things in life you just need to figure out for yourself.

bjelmore35 karma

Right? 75% of the time they have a plunger in the bathroom. It's all about the vacuum. You have to loosen it up a little. Like a fine woman.

Zombies_Are_Dead13 karma

Cascade Complete dishwasher gel is a great thing to keep around for clogged drains. Just dilute it with the hottest water available and pour it in. Within minutes the clog should be clear and the drain working perfectly. It's especially good for tubs and showers. I used to work for Home Depot and we even cross merchandised it with the Draino. It's one of the best I've found and it's a lot gentler than the acid based stuff.

bjelmore9 karma

We use Buster on our stubborn drains. It's mostly sulfuric acid and tingles when I get it on my hand.

Zombies_Are_Dead3 karma

That stuff does a good job. I usually reserve acid based stuff for a last resort. I got some back splash on my face once and it was very uncomfortable.

bjelmore5 karma

We have to clear tub drains, sinks, and ever thing in between. Also our a/c drain line is notorious for clogging. Buster is good for all.

BobC813-2 karma

TIL bust out the Hoover when the toilet clogs. Or is this the type of job for a shop vac?

bjelmore6 karma

You use the plunger to create a vacuum in the toilet to break up your wad of paper towel or whatever else you put down there. Haha if I took the shop vac to a toilet my boss would look at me a little funny.

Nakotadinzeo2 karma

They are pretty good for getting dentures out of a toilet...

And that's when i found out why housekeeping doesn't use the shop vac, despite being the only thing that gets the ceiling vents truly clean.

This was a nursing home though.

bjelmore3 karma

If my teeth went through a toilet I might just call it a loss.

cowsonmeth15 karma

Quick sell me why I should be a maintenance man like yourself?

bjelmore31 karma

If you like using your hands and working all the overtime you can possibly work go into maintenance. Also if you can work at one with a pool there is quite a lot of attractive ladies you can gaze at.

Portmanero1 karma


bjelmore7 karma

Oh its definitely harmless looking. We have a guy on maintenance that we call the Panty-sniffer because he is kind of a creep. Now him and a few guys on grounds ogle the women and it's clear they get creeper out.

cowsonmeth11 karma

What's the worst thing a tenant has done to try and fix something that you could have fixed in a few moments?

bjelmore26 karma

Drywall done by the resident always cracks me up.

A_Contemplative_Puma2 karma

What's usually the indicator?

I've done my own drywall repairs using the landlord's paint, as the rate they charge us for repairs is exorbitant. Reinforced, taped, mudded, sanded, then painted.

So, how could you usually tell?

bjelmore7 karma

That's the proper way to do it but these people will put a fist through a wall and expect a cup of mud from home depot will fix it properly. We give out paint to the residents and 99% of maintenance is never charged back to the resident.

A_Contemplative_Puma2 karma

Cool landlord. The three I've had have done everything they can to gouge the tenants, but they're students, so I guess they're easy targets.


bjelmore1 karma

It's maintenances call whether they get charged. We know how crappy some of the apartments and materials are. Plus it makes going back there so much easier. I couldn't go back to some of these apartments after having backcharged them for things.

HippoHorse9 karma

Who are your top 3 favorite pornstars to pump off to?

bjelmore11 karma

Ooooh boy, Gianna always made me stand at attention

ALaccountant3 karma

I love all these questions you're answering when its obvious exactly who you are. Hope you don't mind that your employer knows!

bjelmore2 karma

Haha eh it's okay. The managers here are pretty cool.

cowsonmeth9 karma

What's the worst thing you seen in apartment?

bjelmore21 karma

We have multiple hoarders living at this property. One lives in a two bedroom but only stays in the living room because the bedrooms are filled with junk. Her bathroom is full of plastic bags filled with excrement. Another lady picks through dumpsters and feeds her dog from the garbage. So many disgusting people live here. I can go on and on.

cowsonmeth11 karma

People doing that to dogs make me sick. Also the lady with the plastic bags, wouldn't that smell? Do damage to the room? What about flies? So many questions

bjelmore8 karma

She doesn't bring garbage bags into her apartment, just useless junk. It probably does stink in there but I have never been inside. She lives on the first floor so whenever I'm behind her building I can see right in her apartment. The first lady I mentioned, I am convinced, started a whole infestation of ants throughout her building. More than a dozen people transfered.

agentfelix6 karma

What keeps these people from getting evicted? Surely this goes against the lease agreement.

bjelmore22 karma

They are often handicapped and it is less of a headache to keep cashing those rent checks than to take them to court unfortunately. These people need help, not eviction.

agentfelix3 karma

Makes sense. I don't understand how anyone could live directly around them, especially the poop bag lady.

bjelmore14 karma

Haha the poop bag lady was married to a guy who had gangrene and residents around them would complain about some bad cooking. Little did they know it was this persons rotting flesh.

Jon_Ham_Cock3 karma

Can u guys call a social worker or health and human services or something? Try and get them some help?

bjelmore2 karma

We try and let family do their stuff with their family member, unless there is children involved in any way.

MehPsh8 karma

Do you care/judge how messy a place is when you come in?

bjelmore14 karma

It's really hard not to. I try and separate the mess and the resident. Often they are really nice and I feel bad.

Schikelgrubber7 karma

Have you ever been called into an apartment where you felt that your life might be in danger?

bjelmore18 karma

If you mean that I might catch a disease or something then yes, however I have never felt like I have been in any physical danger. I have been sick more often than I ever did prior to maintenance.

butter_onapoptart6 karma

People are disgusting. I am watching a crew start a turnover on a unit that we had to get evicted. They have to redo everything. Nothing is salvageable and the smells are horrible. What I don't understand is how gross people will let themselves live.

bjelmore10 karma

We had an apartment that took 3 months to turn. We have another one now that's pushing two and i wouldn't be surprised if it broke the record.

butter_onapoptart4 karma

You need LA crews. There are so many people renting out here, they get bonuses for finishing ahead of schedule so that we can get it rented out as fast as possible. 3 months for us would mean someone was getting fired.

bjelmore3 karma

If our turnover guys got bonuses these would sparkle.

ALaccountant4 karma

I walk units as part of the due diligence process when we acquire properties. The horrors I've seen. The smells I've smelled.

bjelmore3 karma

Yeah if turnover finds a bad one we all are curious and swing by the apartment to have a look

SilentlyCrying7 karma

Do you feel that your paid enough to do the job you do or should maintenance workers be getting paid more?

bjelmore13 karma

I mean sure, when I am ankle deep in water and shit I think that I should be making more, but for the most part I am happy with the pay structure here. I had zero experience prior to coming to the Harbours so I am very fortunate to be making what I do.

SilentlyCrying2 karma

Do you have to have a degree in electrical or anything like that

bjelmore14 karma

I do not. Just get shocked a couple times and you will know what not to do. It's mostly basic circuitry and electrical here anyways. I did have to be EPA certified to be able to work around freon but that test was only 80 questions and the study booklet was only 8 pages.

SilentlyCrying5 karma

Is it easier or harder to work for an apartment complex vs like a hotel or other buildings

bjelmore8 karma

I have never worked for a hotel or anything similar but my manager used to work at a Hyatt in Chicago. It seemed very similar to apartment work. I would imagine a big difference would be in quality of materials. There is a higher standard for hotels as compared to apartments. Our materials here are garbage.

FightForGlory6 karma

If that is the Harbours at hall road and Garfield you work at my apartment complex!

Are you supposed to be on-call 24 hours a day or is it in shifts?

bjelmore7 karma

The Harbours is at Hall and Heydenreich, it's Northport at hall and garfield. But they are the same company. There are five of us on call and we each take a day of the week and alternate weekends. We help each other out so much, especially working on a/cs.

MrsKristyLynn2 karma

I toured the harbors when I was still apartment living. Ended up at lakeside village instead and was so much happier.

bjelmore3 karma

Yeah they look pretty nice. I used to live at 19 and Hayes. I like it over there.

Killtherich102-2 karma

I almost moved in to those, and now I'm glad I didn't.

Anyway, question; What color is your shirt?

bjelmore5 karma

We get on average five or so calls a night. There has been an increase in crime recently so good on you.

x8BITxZombie6 karma

Is it an older complex or fairly new?

bjelmore18 karma

We have apartments that opened up in 1989 and we have new buildings opening up about every four months. It's amazing how much more reliable my older buildings are compared to the new ones. I'm out at my newer buildings far more than the older ones.

irontan6 karma

Ever seen any dead bodies?

bjelmore13 karma

So far only only one suicide. The guy was out in his car when he pulled the trigger. I was in the next building over when I heard it. The old timers have seen a few bodies.

JiveTurkeyMFer5 karma

At what level do you sub out work to a contractor or make resident call and pay a contractor? How much do you make? What skills have you learned since working there? Do you live in the complex also and if you do how much discount on rent do they give?

bjelmore10 karma

On call guys have to live on site and because of this my rent is paid for. I make 15/hr which is halfway decent in my opinion considering my free rent. I have learned plumbing air conditioning, heat, appliances, generally I have learned how to use my hands better. We contract out anything carpet related, copper plumbing (we do our own pvc), a/c install. We do most everything else. Big drywall jobs are sometimes contracted out.

JiveTurkeyMFer3 karma

So if an idiot tenant clogs the toilet and continues to poop in it or overflow the bowl, do you clean it up or make them call a plumber?

bjelmore2 karma

All I need to do is clear the clog. They are responsible for cleanup. If a plumber needs to be called I just have to clear it with a manager.

chemicalxx1125 karma

Anyone ever tip you with sex?

bjelmore11 karma

Haha my supervisor the other day had a french lady answer the door naked and continue to stay naked. Plenty of people arent really dressed first thing in the morning.

im_always_fapping2 karma

Is this saying true "The nudity you want, you can't get, the nudity you can get, you don't want"?

bjelmore7 karma

I agree wholeheartedly.

tweakingforjesus4 karma

So what's your opinion on "flushable" tampons. Flush it or trash it?

bjelmore7 karma

Although I get a lot of overtime from plunging toilets filled with that shit it isnt quite worth being away from my family.

TheJester733 karma

So do you keep a pack of smokes rolled up in your sleeve and chew gum like Schneider from One Day At A Time when doing a service call?

bjelmore5 karma

Haha my cigarettes are usually crushed up in my pocket because I layed down on the floor and forgot about them.

apizzamymind3 karma

What's the strangest thing you ever found flushed down and clogging the toilet?

bjelmore8 karma

Toothbrush, toy cars, a weave. Just because something goes down doesn't mean it goes through. It will get stuck and we have to pull the toilet to remove the object. Backcharge!

tle36lsu3 karma

Do you ever get called out to check on a resident's complaint but the complex doesn't want you to fix it, so you tell the resident that everything is okay? Like an A/C unit that doesn't blow cold enough.

bjelmore3 karma

Nah we want to please everyone. If there is something I can do to fix your shit I will do it or call in my supervisor. We try to please everyone around here

MsNewKicks3 karma

Weirdest things you've come across when entering a tenant's property?

I admittedly had to submit a maintenance request for a smoke alarm that wouldn't stop beeping (even after a fresh battery) and left a few, ummm, toys out from the night before. Yup, glad I moved out of that apartment so I wouldn't have to see the maintenance guys anymore though they were always extra nice for some reason. ;)

bjelmore3 karma

Haha that's great. We are pretty oblivious to belongings. We find sex toys often, drug stuff, all kinds. Weirdest thing I find is a telescope on a balcony pointed right at our pool. It gives me the creeps.

MsNewKicks1 karma

Ewwwww. To add to the pool point, every time I'd tan by the pool, guaranteed there'd be at least one guy casually taking the longest cigarette break ever on their balcony.

And I'm sure you don't hear it enough but "thank you". I don't know how many times the maintenance guys came through for me at my places over the years and I don't think they get enough thanks.

bjelmore2 karma

Feel free to call your office and let them know! The girls who take the calls will appreciate a nice call instead of the endless number of bad ones.

rxvterm2 karma

I had a friend in college who cleaned up a pet "accident" with a wad of kitchen paper towels, and then proceeded to attempt to flush them down the toilet.

How often do you get serious plumbing calls (i.e. needing a snake or worse) where the tenant was literally retarded?

bjelmore9 karma

We handle a lot of our own plumbing problems, like a plunger and a hand snake. We have a rooter but we use that about once a month. We pull whole globs of grease and what not. Like in the shape of a 4-5 inch drain pipe. People will overflow a toilet and not call until it's flooded so bad that the people downstairs have already called.

dangfrick3 karma

What's the weirdest thing you've pulled out with the router? Once I got a tape measure. Someone somehow managed to get a fucking tape measure down their drain and into the plumbing.

bjelmore3 karma

The cylinder of grease was epic, although it just floated up to the flange. A weave was intense and almost made me hurl because it was so unexpected.

Skinflaps552 karma

Bill, I have question for you. Why didn't you censor your last name instead of two letters in your first name?

bjelmore4 karma

You could guess it from my username dawg

MystikIncarnate2 karma

Do you think it's ignorance or laziness that people call you to plunge a toilet at 2:30 AM?

bjelmore5 karma

A little of both. They always say "oh I have tried plunging it. You will need something a bit bigger." 1. If you are aware of your massive dumps then do your business first then the paper. 2. Stand back while I plunge your shit, bitch.

loudstarfish2 karma

Due to the nature of my work, I meet many building caretakers on a daily basis who have varying degrees of feigned interest in their jobs. As I understand, a lot of them get reduced rent as well as a salary. My question is - do you have this job because you enjoy it, or is it just a paycheck?

bjelmore5 karma

I admit that before I got the job I was in a place where I couldn't really refuse the free rent. I was about to be laid off and my lease was ending so it came at a great time. That being said I have come to really like my job and my coworkers. I can see myself being here for a while.

BellTheMan2 karma

I wanted to apologize to all Apartment Maintenance workers, and then ask the following;

I called for a maintenance man because my tub wouldn't drain. The help desk couldn't get a hold of Maintenance immediately, and said they would keep trying and call me back, but that they'd mark it as urgent and leave messages.

So, thinking it may be a day or so before anyone got here, my girlfriend and I put it out of our minds, and proceeded to do what young adults who live alone do.

Well, about 15 seconds after finishing our activities, there was a sharp knock on the door. We freaked out, thinking some company we were going to have over later was hours early, but then we heard the person proclaim "Maintenence!"

My girlfriend ran into the closet, and I quickly threw on pants. I couldn't leave him out there for long, so as soon as I was covered I got the door. Unfortunately it was still pretty obvious what had been going on, especially as I still hadn't had a moment to calm down.

The dude just did the work and left, said nothing about it, but I felt so bad. I guess my question is, does this happen often?

And again sorry.

bjelmore6 karma

Haha that's a good story. Personally I don't care what you are doing in the apartment, unless someone is in danger. So many people try to hide bongs and what not but it's cool. We aren't there to cause trouble or anything. If that were me I would have asked to come back later. Something like a tub drain here takes a day for us to get it downstairs. Your maintenance guy is all about his job apparently.

BellTheMan3 karma

I'll be honest... it wasn't a tub... My girlfriend clogged the toilet so bad I couldn't fix it :(

bjelmore3 karma

Haha bummer dude. I get calls for emergencies and I'm there within a minute sometimes.

nankerjphelge1 karma

What do you charge the management company for your services?

Also, what is the limit to your services? Like at what point do you have to send out for a specialist to fix something?

bjelmore4 karma

I am employed here at the complex. I get free rent because I'm on standby a fifth of the time which is pretty nice. We have 7 in maintenance that split up the 42 buildings we have currently. We are building 8 more.

easthennepin1 karma

Do you get show up pay?Or hourly pay for on call hours?

bjelmore1 karma

Time and a half for everything after 5pm. We fill out our own overtime. Minimum of 30 minutes on everything

kuanes1 karma

How quickly did you become an expert on putting sliding glass/screens patio doors back on their tracks?

bjelmore3 karma

Haha thats great. Our frames are so warped that you're lucky if you get a smooth screen door. Like the Iraqi guy I work with would say "I get them like butter". Our replacements are garbage. Self adjusting my ass

thelordofcheese1 karma

Can you come fix the leak in the unit above mine?

bjelmore1 karma

I would certainly try!

Grimsterr1 karma

Do people REALLY call you to plunger a toilet? Because seriously that's asinine. The whole point is plunger that shit WHILE it's backing up and if you're damned lucky, before it spills over.

bjelmore7 karma

A toilet will only overflow if it runs after being flushed. If one suspects their toilet is about to overflow then just shut the water off.

FallSe7en4 karma

Unfortunately, most people don't know how to shut off the water in my experience.

bjelmore3 karma

I tell the people to shut off their shit before I get there and when I arrive it's still wide open, having flooded just that much more.

mikikop30000 karma

Hey what's up?

bjelmore15 karma

Oh you know, maintaining things