Jan 6th 2018
By Aaron Weinstein
Welcome to December 2017 in Canada: Its cold. So cold across the entire continent of North America that US President Trump actually said we could use some more of this so called “global warming” to help us out. Jokes aside, on Dec 25th the mercury in Calgary hits -30c and it doesn’t warm up until some time in the new year. 10 days or so of extremely frigid temperatures and nothing happened until a text pops up from a tenant residing in a four plex I manage in the trendy inner city community of Kensington in Calgary.
Fast forward to New Years Day around dinner time, a Monday for anyone keeping a record. A text message comes through:
“Our water is off”
“I called 311,” the message continued. “they said there aren’t any water main breaks that they know of and its most likely a frozen pipe, any idea what we should do?”.
We exchange some messages back and forth, I question if the parkjade door was left open at anytime or any other easy answer for this. There isn’t… I tell them to warm up their place by increasing the heat on their furnace, use the gas fireplace, get it nice and cozy in there and keep me updated. I hang up the phone but I keep thinking about it. The tenants without water are in unit #4 and I remember the others in unit #1 told me that they were all leaving to see their family for the holidays and no one would be there. Fuck it, excuse my language:
10 minutes later I decided to drive down to the building and check it out.
I arrive in Kensington and do the obvious things. I walk around the building, everything seems normal. I go into the parkade, which is under the 4 units. Everything is normal.
I ring the doorbell on Unit #1. No one answers, lights are off, tenants told me they were away. I unlock the door.
Its -30 inside their house and the water in the toilets was completely frozen.
The thermostat is frozen but I’m able to switch it from the off setting to the heat setting and I hear the furnace fire. I turn on the oven to full blast and leave the door open. I can’t believe it. The toilets are totally frozen. The house is frozen.
I get back into my Jeep and drive back to my shop where I have some electric heaters. These are 3 story townhomes and I will need the extra heating power. As I am driving back it dawns on me to turn off the water to that unit.
I get all the heaters going, water shut off, furnace blazing and I go home for the night.
The next morning I come back to survey the damage. Turning off the water saved thousands in damage.
Had the water not been turned off, once the toilets defrosted the waer would have started to run and would have destroyed the carpet, the hardwood on the kitchen level etc etc. In this case the toilets were frozen, the porcelain cracked and the frozen water all leaked out. There was damage on the ceiling and it will require $500 worth of work. The plumber was there the next morning and replaced the 2 toilets $850. We turned on the water and nothing else leaked.
The fill valve on the washing machine froze and broke. $260. We turned off the water to the washing machine and waited for the part to fix it.
When all was said and done, we had $1660 worth of damage. Very Lucky.
Had the property manager (Rentch) not responded immediately, we would have had 10’s of thousands in damage and the tenants would not have been able to return to the home. Think about it, had the toilets on the 2nd floor continued to run, water would have destroyed 2 floors in only a few hours. Hardwood floors, celings, drywall, carpets. All would have had to be replaced let alone other issues.
Do not turn off your furnace in the winter.
If you want to save a few bucks, reduce the heat to 12 degree C. Regardless, have Rentch Rental Services on your side!
Here are some photos of the damage: