Whether you are about to move into your first-ever rental home or if you're in your 10th home, there are just some essential items that every tenant should own. Here's a "Top 9" list of essentials compiled by PMC General Manager, Eric Jones.
- A step ladder with handrails or a 5 foot ladder
- Heavy duty plunger
- Allen wrench
- Drain clog wand
- Water Shut-Off Valve T-Wrench
- Fire Extinguisher
- Basic toolkit – Hammer, Screwdriver set with both flathead and phillips head, needle-nose pliers.
- Heavy Duty Flashlight
- Duct Tape
The Humble Step Stool
Cost Range: ($20 -$100) A step stool (usually two or three steps) is an essential for any home as maintenance above our heads is a constant in life. In order to save yourself from balancing in your socks with one foot on a shelf and the other on that chair you found at a yard sale, do some research. Step stools come in a variety of sizes with safety features that can make changing lightbulbs much less ominous. Reliable step stools usually are of the folding variety and made of a lightweight material like aluminum (stay away from plastic as a rule). Make sure you get one with non-slip ends (plastic or rubber) and read to make sure you know the weight limits. Best of all, most stow away in a closet and are durable if kept dry.
Cost Range: ($60 to $165) So you have a step stool, but maybe you are a person that is vertically-challenged or you have recessed lighting that has bulbs just out of your reach. Made of aluminum or fiberglass, an A-frame ladder is usually 3 to 4 steps and allows tenants to access most indoor lighting, ceiling fans and HVAC filters. Like the step stool, go for non-slip ends and read the weight limits. Most can be tucked away in a closet or safely stowed under a bed.
Heavy Duty Plunger
Cost Range: ($9.99 to $39) Sure, laugh if you want but when nature calls and the pipes just aren’t up to the total transaction, you will see the value. Don’t wince at splurging on a top of the line instrument. Most plungers are made from cheap rubber and the plunge portion is the same red rubber that elementary school dodge balls are made from. But look for the black, heavy-duty plunger with a long handle. Fit the black bell over the drain and push down. Water pressure is an awesome thing. For a few bucks more, buy some bleach to douse the business end and use the plastic bag from the store to stash the plunger in a garage or laundry room.
Allen Wrench Set
Cost Range: ($7.00 to $18) We will leave it to those of you who enjoy looking up origins of items, but suffice to say that an allen wrench can come in handy. Whether you have one (considerably less than $7) that came with your last foray into putting together your entertainment center or found the set that comes like a pocket knife in different sizes, allen wrenches are handy. The most common use that will actually save you money is when your trash disposal unit of your sink clogs due to attempting to dispose of chicken noodle soup. Don’t run bulk food down the disposal, but when you do and it jams, a few turns of the allen wrench can unclog the drain and save maintenance calls.
Drain Clog Removal Tool
Cost Range: ($6.00 to $18.00) – All mammals have hair and how it ends up in sink and tub/shower drains is well documented on YouTube. There are many varieties of products in shapes and sizes to help you with your own clog. The least expensive solutions tend to be wands with brushes and flexible plastic ziptie-type sticks with barbs that can be twined to catch hair and pull it out. It is seldom pleasant, but most clog removal is painless. Plumbers are the superheroes that come and clear drains, but there is a price to pay for it. Own your hairclog – or re-own your hairclog and save money. Remember, clogs can cause water leaks and that can lead to costly repairs.
Outdoor Water Valve Shut-off Tool
Cost Range: ($9.99 to $15.00) – In some circles this is also known as a street key and in the case of an apocalyptic water emergency, it can be a real cost-saver. Possession is just the first part of the real value of this t-shaped tool. To truly count yourself as owner of this you should also go out to your water main shut-off by a street or outside drain and locate the valve. Your local water department can also help you find the valve.
Cost Range: ($15.00 to $90.00): Keep in mind that you should have one fire extinguisher for each floor of your home. Depending on the type of extinguisher, generally A. is for ordinary combustibles (i.e. wood, cloth), B. flammable liquids (i.e. cooking oils, paint chemicals) or C. electrical (i.e. wiring, fuse box fires). Ideally get one that is rated for all types of fire. Fire extinguishers come in both rechargeable (will need to be pressurized periodically) or disposable versions. Don’t skimp on fire protection and don’t dream of fighting the fire; just concentrate on getting everyone out of the home safely. Your fire extinguisher should be used along with a well-rehearsed fire escape plan. Let the dudes with the spotted dogs and hoses do the heavy fire fighting.
Cost Range: ($25.00 to $125.00) – The definition of a basic tool-kit is certainly up for debate. Start with a hammer, tape measure, multi-screwdriver with interchangeable heads for all types of screws, and an adjustable wrench. A durable plastic tool-box with trays to organize is also a must. Add and upgrade tools based on needs of your home. Consider exotic additions like a stud finder for hanging pictures and of course, an assortment of screws, nuts, bolts and washers.
Heavy Duty Flashlight
Cost Range: ($17.00 to $80.00) – It is truly the age of powerful hand-held flashlights. LED lighting speared on production while the battery industry has beefed up production at a World War II assembly line pace. A good flashlight is one that makes getting around during power outages a must-have. Also, flashlights light the way in out-of-the-way places like under sinks, in the attic and even behind dryers where dry vents remain a tight fit. Get good flashlights, keep batteries in your utility drawer and never be surprised at how much they are needed.
Cost Range: ($3.50 - $6.00 per roll) – There are many brands, sizes and even colors now as the Age of Duct Tape enters it’s seventh decade. Richard Drew invented the military version in 1942 during World II and it has become the staple for quick fixes all over the globe. Ranging from normal to industrial strength, make sure you read up on the various versions before using. Duct tape versatility can also be a curse as it can take the finish off wood, drywall and metal. It is excellent for affixing dryer hoses to vents and for temporary fixes until professional help can do actual repairs. The more duct tape you have, the more uses you will find for it. Just don’t make yourself a duct-cedo.