Toronto Condo plumbing – What pipes do you have?

The types of condo plumbing you’ll find in downtown Toronto buildings aren’t necessarily the same as what you’d find in houses. Depending on the age and size of the building, there could be a variety of different materials in use. Read below to find out a little bit more on the topic:

Kitec Plumbing

If you have this in your condo, your unit was probably built between the years 1995 and 2007, and unfortunately, finding this is bad news. Upon finding Kitec in most buildings, property management has typically enforced mandatory removal of the plumbing. “Kitec” is actually a brand name, so the plumbing  system may be stamped with a few different names, but it’s still the same ineffective plumbing. Most condos in Toronto have either already dealt with the replacement of Kitec, or are at least aware of its presence and working towards swapping it out already. There is a large multi-country settlement currently in the works, so if you’re curious about recapturing some funds for the replacement cost of your plumbing, check out the website right here.

An example of Kitec plumbing.

Copper Plumbing

Cooper plumbing is the gold standard for plumbing as it has proven the test of time for being safe and durable. It’s not indestructible though – it is still prone to issues, since it’s metal and can corrode or have mineral build-up over time. It is still used in condos all around the city, but in order to keep costs down for builders, you may find it mixed with other plumbing types behind the walls.

An example of copper plumbing.

PEX Plumbing

PEX, which is cross-linked polyethylene, has become a favourable choice for some builders due to its ease of use (it’s flexible, after all!) and lower cost, compared with copper. PEX has an approximately 30 year history, so has a good track record over time to show that it can do the job well. The blue and red tubes make it easy to identify.

An example of PEX plumbing.

A combination of copper and PEX plumbing

In more recently constructed buildings, it’s not uncommon to see mixed use copper plumbing with PEX flexible plumbing systems for hot and cold water.

When it comes to plumbing, this is an area of expertise outside of the scope of a handy person, so it’s always best to get the opinion or skills of a licensed plumber if ever you’re in need of plumbing service. For other odd jobs however, feel free to reach out to me for help right here!

On the Google hunt for “female handyman Toronto”?

female handyman toronto painting

If you’re online looking up “female handyman Toronto”, don’t worry, I won’t be offended if it wasn’t “handywoman Toronto” or something of that sort instead. I get it – handywoman doesn’t even really exist as a word. Except for those who really mean to use it. I constantly need to override my system’s own autocorrect just to have it type “handywoman” instead of “handyman” anytime I’m on my computer or phone.

Whatever the case, you’re probably searching for a female fix-it-and/or-repair-it type person for a reason, since it’s a niche field in Toronto that is stereotypically dominated by males. Some of the reasons I’ve come across for people either seeking out a female, or me personally, come down to this:

  • A fellow female, sometimes with children, sometimes single, or a combination of the two, who doesn’t feel comfortable having an unaccompanied male stranger come into their home or personal space for any period of time.
  • Someone who wants to support the inclusion of all genders in the workforce, in all occupations or careers, especially when a particular job is stereotypically dominated by one gender over another.
  • More specific to me personally, I’m very detail-oriented and conscientious in the way I carry out my work and how I tidy up after the job is done. [This is not to say that males cannot be the same! I’m just acknowledging this here as a personal attribute]
  • With my sales background in the service industry, I understand what it means to be on time, presentable, personable, committed to the work & timeline, and accountable. Merging my approach from years in sales with the hands-on detail of handywork around a condo means that I provide a great experience from initial contact to final connection.

On the flip side of things for me personally, I also like knowing that I’m being hired by a female, because I’m also sometimes in the position of entering a stranger’s house and I need to “suss” it out quickly to make sure it’s legit so that I can complete the necessary work safely and without any dishonesty from the hiring side.

Whatever the gender, everyone wants to hire someone who can get the job done professionally, neatly, and at a reasonable cost. I’m up for the task, and know my limits too, so you’ll never have to worry about me taking something on that I can’t complete.

So, with all of that said, if you’re looking to connect on a downtown Toronto condo repair or improvement job, reach out on my Contact page right here. I’m glad you found me, whether you searched “female handyman toronto” or anything else!

 

 

A Toronto condo fridge replacement of the future – now!

Considering swapping out your current refrigerator for a newer model? Samsung has just released the new Family Hub fridge that will have you re-thinking everything about what a fridge can do for you. If you’re considering renovating your Toronto condo kitchen, definitely consider this appliance option.

Part fridge and part super-large tablet, the list of things this fridge can do beyond keeping your food cold and fresh is seemingly endless: Play music, synch what you’re watching in one room with what displays on the fridge, show family calendars, display doodle/note options, order food directly from apps on the fridge, and share photos.

Perhaps my favourite function of the fridge is the built-in cameras that allow you to see inside of the fridge without opening the door. This isn’t just for retaining the cold temperatures inside for environmental efficiency – this is about being able to remotely see inside the fridge when you’re at the grocery store too! Imagine not having to second guess yourself in the produce aisle on whether you have enough carrots to make the carrot soup recipe you’re holding in your hand, simply by opening your smartphone app to see inside your fridge in real time. I love this idea not only from a financial perspective for eliminating duplicate purchases, but also for its help in reducing Canada’s food waste problem. So much of a typical Canadian’s food goes bad before it is used, and being able to know what’s in your fridge from a distance, particularly during impromptu stops at the grocery store, will absolutely help us reduce food waste.

If you’re as keen to learn more about this fridge as I was when I first learned about it, definitely check out the Samsung website right here for more information.

Of course, Handywoman Toronto doesn’t handle appliance repairs, but for anything else around the condo, reach out to me here to see if I can help!

On the job: solving the slow flowing bathroom drain

Condo handyman work

Looking for a condo handyman to help fix the slow flow of water out of your kitchen and bathroom drains? Why not try a handywoman instead!

At one of our most recent jobs, the owner of this condo was concerned about how slowly the water drained from his bathroom faucets. After only a few seconds, the water would start to pool and take five times longer than that to wash away. So, obviously there wasn’t a full clog, but there was definitely more at play happening inside the pipes.

With some clearing out of the bottom cabinet, we were able to take off the p-trap (the U-shaped pipe that holds water in the drain to prevent sewer smells from wafting up, while also catching a lot of debris before it heads deeper into the pipe system), and lo and behold, the source of the problem was evident:

Condo handyman repair

 

Obviously not a pretty sight, but it’s certainly fulfilling to pull all of that built-up hair and grime away! Additionally, the pipe was being clogged with untold black, slimy, goo (toothpaste and whatever else?!?), so a full cleaning of the pipe from the sink to the exposed bottom was in order. We unhooked the sink stopper and cleaned that along with the internal lever mechanism too! When all was done, it was as clean as a whistle and the faucet couldn’t keep up with the speed of the drain.

Contact us to help solve this problem for you, along with any others you might encounter in your condo!

 

Toronto condo hydro

leaves

With the cost of hydro only going up in the foreseeable future, it’s important to consider how to minimize your monthly hydro costs. Here are some tips and ideas to that end:

Time-of-Use Rates

I’m amazed how many people aren’t aware of the Time-of-Use charts published by Toronto Hydro on there website, which are seasonally dependant. Choosing to run a load of laundry at 12pm versus 8pm will at least double the cost of the electricity charges. Making the decision to operate your more energy guzzling appliances, such as ovens, laundry units and dishwashers in the evening and/or on weekends instead of during weekdays will actually reduce the costs associated by 50% or more. To stay informed on the annually changing rates for the Time of Use, check out Toronto Hydro’s website here.

Toronto condo hydro
***Note that this image is for illustrative purposes only, as the pricing and time of day periods change throughout the year. Please check Toronto Hydro’s website for the most up-to-date information.

Keep in mind that not all condo buildings use Toronto Hydro as their electricity provider, so you’ll need to see what programs other companies use if your building runs off a different energy provider.

Energy Star

Whenever the time comes to replace a broken appliance, do the research to find the best priced energy efficient appliances. With the Energy Star rating system, you’ll be able to see how efficiently an appliance runs relative to other models to know if your purchase is a wise one for energy consumption. A sticker on the appliance will show a scale of expected energy consumption: the lower the amount of energy consumed, the better for your electricity bills!

Toronto Hydro Incentives

Did you know that Toronto Hydro is actively working to help you reduce your hydro bill? It might seem counter-intuitive for them to be doing that, but Toronto Hydro has a big incentive to do this because of burgeoning hydro use from all of the new condo towers and the associated increases in demand, which are posing future service problems for our limited and aging infrastructure. Take a peak on Toronto Hydro’s website here to see what current programs and incentives are being offered at the moment, as it’s constantly changing. 

Being prudent with your hydro use not only saves you money but is also the responsible thing to do for you to decrease your environmental footprint. Limiting your power use is helpful for you and the planet!

Condo maintenance and awareness

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Whether you’re the new owner of a condo or just moving in as a new tenant, there are a few important locational things to know about inside your unit to help make your home experience a positive one. Beyond the glamour of stone counters and hardwood flooring, there are very real practical considerations to be familiar with in the operation of your condo and for basic condo maintenance so that you can easily navigate around your space. Here are a few to note:

Main water shut-off valve

Every condo in Toronto has a main water shut off that is accessible for emergencies, ie. a flood in the unit. Knowing where this valve is located without delay can allow you to quickly shut off water in the event of an appliance or mechanism malfunction or other water disaster where time is ticking and water churning out can completely destroy your unit and/or dozens of units below you. For most condos, you’ll find the main water shut off valve within a tiny door that’s located under the sink of a bathroom in the condo. 

Laundry water shut-off valve

When speaking with a licensed plumber on a recent job I was part of, he mentioned it’s ideal for residents to turn off the water valve to the washing machine in between your laundry loads. He mentioned it as a good-to-know practice, since it’s just an extra step to ensure that your unit never accidentally has a flow of water that shouldn’t occur. Just don’t forget to turn the water valve back on again after starting your washer, otherwise you’ll have done a full cycle in “dry mode”!

 

Lint trap door

All dryers have a lint trap built into the machine that requires cleaning after each load of laundry, however, there is also a lesser known lint trap usually found in the ceiling above the dryer that requires maintenance too. All of the lint that passes through the dryer’s own lint trap ends up at this secondly trap, and with time, it can build up into a thick carpet of lint. Why is this notable? Because with added heat from the dryer, all of that lint built-up can become enflamed and catch on fire! It is generally recommended to check on this lint trap door once per month to fully clean it out to prevent fires and ensure that your dryer is working at maximum effeciency. 

Electrical panel

Though only a license electrician should be the only person poking around in an electrical panel, it’s important to know the location of this component so that you can switch the breaker in the event it’s overloaded and shuts off power to an area of your condo, or in the event you want to turn off power to an area of the condo for any reason. 

Knowing the location of all of these items is important to maintaining and securing your condo. Make a mental note to yourself of all of these locations if you’ve never thought about them before! It’s all part of good condo maintenance and awareness!

If you’re looking for any help with a project around your condo, reach out here.

Bathroom caulking repair – Why it’s important to do

Bathtub caulking repair

Have you ever seen a bathtub with peeled and cracked caulking surrounding all of the edges? This is usually accompanied by black mould growth, making it quite a sight to be seen. Not only is it repulsive, after all, who wants to clean themselves in a dirty environment, but it poses a serious risk to major financial and health issues down the line if not attended to in full.

It’s imperative to always keep an eye on the maintenance of your caulking in bathrooms and kitchens, especially if you have tenants and aren’t regularly attending to this, particularly because it’s such a quick and easy fix to avoid thousands of dollars in damage. 

The big risk with cracked caulking comes from the water that will be able to penetrate behind the walls, hidden away from view, and multiply mould growth into the walls around the bathroom. By the time it spreads throughout the walls, the only way to remediate the problem is to fully rip out the tiles, tub & walls, clean and dry the surfaces, and refinish the bathroom. When the price to avoid this is simply some inexpensive tools and materials as well as a couple of hours of time at most, it’s obvious what route to take. 

The types of caulking sealants available range in colour, durability and longevity. There are clear, solid white, almond or bone colours readily available, and more colour options on the market with a bit more investigation, so matching a colour shouldn’t be an issue. Most builders use cheap caulking, which in my experience only lasts a few years at most before requiring repair, but other products on the market can last up to 10 years of wear and tear. 

Depending on the severity of the need, a caulking replacement job can be done within about one hour, or at most with two separate short visits of a few hours in total to allow for air drying time in between visits. 

Redoing bathroom or kitchen caulking is the kind of work that HandywomanToronto loves to help with in downtown Toronto condos. Please reach out to have us look after this aspect of condo maintenance for you!

Wall Beds in downtown Toronto condos

Wall Bed

With space always at a premium in condos, having a wall bed – also referred to as a murphy bed or fold-out bed – is a smart idea. The thing is, you still need to be smart about how you use the space when the wall bed is up and hidden, so that your use of space truly stays maximized.

In the olden days of wall beds, a bed would fold up and just look like a cupboard-less cabinet against a wall, serving no real purpose when the bed was not in use. Innovation started to come into the industry more recently though, particularly with the advent of smaller and smaller bachelor units that necessitated wall beds that could provide new and interesting alternate functions while in its upright position. New ideas such as shelving, desks, dining tables, couches and more began to be seen in the new designs. 

In the Toronto area, some of the best places to consider checking out wall beds come from the following companies:

B.O.F.F. Wall Beds: A more traditional retailer, they are known for practical pieces that are well made and from a well respected company in the industry with a lot of history.

Wall Beds
B.O.F.F. Wall Beds

Resource Furniture: The big player in really innovative designs for all around a condo, these morphing pieces of furniture will blow your mind with their creativity and sleek, modern and simple style.

Wall Beds
Resource Furniture

Gautier: Newer to the wall bed scene, these sleek European pieces of furniture from this French company allow different options for dining, study and entertainment purposes.

Wall Beds Toronto
Gautier

Keep in mind that wall beds are a commitment. They are meant to be permanent pieces of furniture that are not usually transportable to new locations, or at least not in the sense that it can be done with undue damage obvious on the wall it’s mounted to or the wall bed itself. When a wall bed is installed, the baseboards are usually ripped off and major brackets and screws are attached to the wall. Most also have complicated assemblies that are done by representatives of the manufacturers, and aren’t easy to disassemble. 

In short, wall beds are a fantastic idea for maximizing the space of a condo, but they are generally lasting decisions that will become part of the condo for the longterm.  

Handywoman Toronto – A phrase to normalize

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From the start of writing this post, I was already hit with a telling reason for creating this business…

Just in simply typing the word “handyman” on the screen to write this, I was swiftly auto-corrected back to “handyman” several frustrating times, as if even the computer was trying to tell me that only a man can be handy. It seems as though the feminist revolution still hadn’t hit on the handy aspects of life yet.

I grew up in a household where my mom would do the cleaning and make some of the interior design and decorating decisions, but it was definitely my dad who did all of the repairs. If anything,  my sister, my mom, or I would become partial assistants in his work, helping to hold something up, or grab something for him while his hands were tied, which did fortunately open my eyes to observe how things work. He was the truest form of handyman – self taught from the beginning, having learned some tricks of the trade from his father, and from decades of handling home repairs on his own. It was extraordinarily rare for any sort of trades person to come into our family home growing up, since my dad really would do it all. And imagine that back in those days there wasn’t the internet or YouTube videos for consult – you really did have to problem solve or search the library for books to read on your own!

Being somewhat of a traditionalist in terms of family roles, I always seemed to be around to watch how things come together, and occasionally I would be invited in to help, but he was definitely the one always taking the lead. Later, when I got married, my husband became the default go-to person for my dad to ask for help with handy-work projects, having him become the “son he never had”. I wasn’t even asked to the table to help, even though I was eager to learn, smart and capable, and I think it was partly because I was a girl. What an unjust situation to be locked into.

So why not enter the around-the-home handy work arena as a woman?

In my opinion, it’s the quality of the work that’s important, and that comes through from character traits – not gender. I’m very detailed, careful, thoughtful, articulate and good with solving problems. I love working with my hands and seeing the visible positive results of my efforts. It matters to me that I am able to start and complete a project, and have the work space tidy during my work and after I’m done too. It’s these kinds of things that matter, and unless you’re unfairly resting on stereotypes, these traits are not restricted to one gender or another. Anyone can be handy with the right experience, patience and level of care.

I’m proud to call myself handy, and recognize myself as a woman, so why not a handywoman. I’m here to help, and I know what I’m doing 🙂

Anne Doherty
HandywomanToronto.com