Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations

December, 20 2022 Published by London and Area Chapter - By Trish Kaplan

Risk Management by Owners

From the CCI Review 2022/2023-2 November 2022 issue of the CCI London Chapter

In the last issue of the CCI Review, the Board of Directors of MSCC #692 shared important information on how they adapted risk management policies and procedures in their condominium high-rise to protect the assets of the corporation. We hope other corporations are taking advantage of the successes the corporation has accomplished.

Condominium owners are not required under the Act to obtain or maintain condominium insurance. In fact, home, condo and tenant insurance are not mandatory by law in Ontario; although most banks and mortgage lenders require buyers to show proof of home insurance before advancing a mortgage. Owners could be required to have appropriate homeowners’ condo insurance if stated in their condominium corporation’s governing documents which is designed to fill in the gaps in coverage where the corporation’s policy might not offer protection.

Every one of us who reside in a condominium community, whether in a high-rise or townhouse style, have responsibilities to ensure we participate in every measure of risk management. Boards would be well advised to include discussion topics on escalating costs for insurance and risk management on the agenda of Owners’ Meetings, in newsletters and any other manner of Communiquê you share with the residents to develop clear attention to their responsibilities to safeguard their own assets. The corporation’s policy does not cover personal property and belongings, any improvements and upgrades made to the unit (before or after taking possession), personal liability if held responsible for damage to another unit or injury to someone visiting the unit. It would be appropriate for all owners to know what they may be responsible for (either the lesser of the entire deductible or the cost of the repair) through an act or negligence that caused the damage. The financial challenges you could face can be immense. For example, consider the cost if you needed to replace all of your equipment after theft or damage without the assistance of insurance.

VACATION CAUTIONS

The cold is coaxing some to put travel on their calendar. Here are a few tips that owners should be aware of to help make it less worrisome while they are away:

  • Arrange for mailbox deliveries to be picked up regularly.
  • Organize interior and exterior light timing.
  • Set thermostat to keep water pipes from freezing.
  • Lock up windows and doors and activate security system (if you have one)
  • Shut off water valves. To check whether it is shut off, test each faucet by turning it on to its highest level. The water should eventually drain and no longer flow. 
  • IMPORTANT – review your insurance policy carefully for requirements to organize while you are away. Contact your insurer with your plans so if something should happen while you are away, you will be covered.
  • Enjoy your time away!

LEASING

Condominium owners who lease their unit have additional responsibilities. The corporation’s governing documents will provide information on any restrictions relative to renting a unit. As well, the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) provides guides for residential condominium landlords and tenants to understand and navigate the unique features of renting a unit. Information on insurance is provided in the documents.: https://www.condoauthorityontario.ca/condominium-living/buying-renting-or-selling/renting-a-condominium/

IMPORTANT - insurance policy providers must know the unit is being leased.

WATER

Damage due to water claims can be devastating. Familiarity with all water shut-off valves is critical for every resident for a quick response to any unexpected flow of water and its ensuing damage.

Nothing lasts forever without a little loving along the way. Follow manufacturers’ instructions for all appliances to ensure optimum functioning.

Water appliance hoses are often overlooked with all of the other upkeep and maintenance that’s required. Even a small undetected leak can cause major damage over time. If the hose bursts, then the potential can be thousands of dollars in repair/replacement costs. It’s worth taking the time to replace your hoses every 5 years (or as recommended by the product’s manufacturer) at the very least to prevent costly damage. These hoses work hard and maintenance is required to keep them working properly and to avoid any unnecessary breakdowns that could result in substantial insurance claims. Whenever you are tackling maintenance, in this case hose replacements, it is recommended that you tag the hoses with the date and the contractor who carried out the work so you can perform ongoing and timely maintenance. While there are numerous types of supply hoses, they come with different replacement periods and cost. Braided stainless steel for flexibly is more expensive but also the most attractive and durable and has been recommended for top safety and security.

The repair/maintenance of appliances is generously the responsibility of unit owners. Every appliance will have a guide to ensure optimum performance and for a longer period of time. It is true, that sometimes the cost to replace is more economical. It’s a good practice to get to know the experts for small and large appliances that you can trust to give you qualified guidance as to the reality of repair or replacement. Some of your favourite friends should include a plumber, electrician, small appliance repair.

Escalating water costs should also encourage owners to do what is necessary to spot water loss problems quickly and to keep a check on water bills.

  1. Locate your water meter to check for hidden leaks in your home.
  2. Make sure all indoor and outdoor taps are turned OFF tightly 3. Pick a time during the day when you will not need to use the water for at least 15 minutes – including ice makers, water softeners, etc.
  3. Record the numbers from the water meter
  4. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and return to the meter to record numbers.
  5. If they have not changed, your system is good and there is no need to worry. If the numbers have increased, you have a leak somewhere in your home. Often times the leak is as simple as a running toilet where it runs constantly even when it is not being used. Such problems should not be ignored. However, there could be other reasons for a spike that may require the expertise of a plumber.

If you haven’t done so already, it is time to get your home’s plumbing ready for the colder weather! Here are 5 tips to help ensure your home is ready for the colder months.

  1. Disconnect hoses and drain them to ensure any leftover water has been removed. If any water is left inside hoses, when it gets really cold, freezing can potentially break them. 
  2. Snow birds resuming travel to warmer temperatures for extended periods, should shut off water valves. To check whether it is shut off, test each faucet by turning it on to its highest level. The water should eventually drain and no longer flow.
  3. Clear out your home’s gutters to ensure leaves or debris will not block water from flowing and draining properly away from the unit. In some corporations that is organized by the board/manager. Report any issues that may arise to the manager/board.
  4. Check your hot water tank settings. During colder months your water heater works harder to deliver warm water when you need it. Set the water heater to 50° C to ensure it’s prepared to perform at its best.
  5. Sump Pump maintenance: if your sump pump is exposed to any extreme temperatures, it may freeze and be unable to operate efficiently. Inspect your sump pump to make sure it is properly insulated and clean. To test it pour a bucket of water in the pit and see if it will kick on. If you find your sump pump is running quite regularly, you may want to consider investing in a back up sump pump.

FIRE

The London Fire Department continues to put out safety notices and more for you and your families on social media and on their website. You can stay up-to-date with the London Fire Department by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They also provide advisories that are important for you to stay safe.

We hope you will pay special attention when you are cooking during the upcoming holiday season

Appliances that may pose a fire hazard and a safety issue are space heaters during the fall and winter. Each of them have specific safety directions to ensure you stay warm and safe. It’s important that you review all safety precautions to keep you and your family safe.

LIABILITY

It is so important that we all take steps to prevent insurance claims of any sort – including those for liability. There are always steps we can take to ensure our own personal safety in our units and to make sure that you are insured for it.

  • Remove loose carpets, area rugs and mats
  • Clean up spills when they occur
  • Remove clutter
  • Secure power cords away from floors
  • Choose anti-slip flooring, especially for stairs 
  • Install and use handrails on stairs and in the bathroom
  • Ensure all areas are well-lit, especially stairs and doorways
  • Use footwear that fits (with non-slips soles) and avoid shoes without backs
  • Review the side-effects of medications with your physician or pharmacist, especially those that may lead to falls (e.g. dizziness)
  • Follow the recommendations of your medical professionals regarding the use of walkers or canes
  • Keep a cell phone with you or get a personal emergency response system

NATURAL GAS SAFETY

Natural gas in both London and Middlesex County is provided by Enbridge Gas, Inc. There are a number of retail electricity and natural gas providers to choose from for their energy needs. Your safety and that of your family comes first. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are properly maintained and in working order. If in doubt as to your personal responsibility as a unit owner or need assistance, contact the manager/board for clarification.

Preventing Gas Leaks - furnace and fireplace Safety –

  • Have your HVAC system inspected and maintained annually by a TSSA-registered HVAC contractor
  • Don’t put flammable materials near your fireplace
  • If the pilot light or flame goes out, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for relighting.
  • Never use a fireplace with a cracked glass
  • Know the signs of natural gas leak: rotten egg smell, hissing sound, bubbling water or blowing dirt.
  • Leave the area immediately and call 911.
  • Review your family emergency plan.

Keeping your natural gas meter and natural gas appliance vents clear throughout the year is essential to your home safety and well-being. During colder months, regularly check your meter, natural gas piping and vents to ensure they are clear of debris. Gently clear snow and ice from your natural gas meter, regulator and natural gas appliance vents to help avoid safety hazards, service interruptions and appliance malfunctions. Repair any leaks right away.

  • Appliance intake and exhaust vents that are blocked by snow, ice or other debris can cause natural gas appliances to malfunction, which could release dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) into your home.
  • Water dripping on your natural gas meter, regulator or natural gas appliance vents can freeze, cause damage and create a safety hazard.
  • Every natural gas meter installation has a regulator and a pressure relief vent. Build -up can impact the ability to control the pressure of the natural gas supplied to your home, which could lead to a loss of heat, a fire or even an explosion.
  • Snow or ice build-up can also damage your natural gas meter’s piping, which could cause a natural gas leak.
  • Never use outdoor fuel-burning equipment (generators, patio heaters, barbecues) inside your home or garage as a temporary heat source.
  • After a storm, gently use a broom or soft brush to clean snow, ice or other debris off your natural gas meter, regulator and vents.
Each of us in the community needs to be a partner in making a difference in how we protect its assets and those who reside there. In that role, safety must be first, always.

Trish Kaplan, CCI (Hon’s) is the current part-time Administrator for the chapter; having served in the position from April 2003 to September 2010. She received the CCI Distinguished Service Award from CCI National in November 2006. Trish served as a director on the chapter board from 2010-2015 and was subsequently returned to the position of Administrator.

Trish is a condominium owner, served as a director of the corporation she resides in for a time and is a retired condominium manager.

Her experience in the different areas of condominium continues to be a benefit to the chapter and its members.

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