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Home COFSAB Forum Condo Owners Forum Q&A How to cool down a too-hot condo in winter without frozen pipes Reply To: How to cool down a too-hot condo in winter without frozen pipes

  • Tricia Lowrey

    October 27, 2022 at 11:07 am

    Thank you both for your replies.

    My reply is long, so I have tried to make it as easy to skim as possible.

    My first thought was lack of air conditioning… except that there are radiators at each of the entrances, and they cycled on and off all summer. The forecast for my move-in day was something like 34C, and I asked, could at least the radiator at the main door please be turned off because my poor movers – I didn’t get a reply and it was not turned off. (Footnote 1)

    Another possibility is that the heat is coming from other people’s units. I had a problem with the heat in mine when I moved in, where the temperature was over 30C, and the radiators were going full blast, and would not turn off – I am not sure how many times I called and emailed the building manager about that (never got a reply), before I took matters into my own hands. I did eventually figure out how to fix it myself. (Footnote 2) Even other units having the same issue may be part of the problem, if it was the whole problem, I would expect more variability in temperature, rather than a narrow fluctuation between 26.5C and 27.5C in all the time I monitored.

    It’s not like this is a weird, heritage-old building with some arcane heating system that the people who would understand it, are at the end of their lifespans. It was built in 1999. There should be a way to fix it, and if there isn’t, it really should have been in the pre-sale disclosure package. I really, really don’t want to have to go the latent material defects route.

    Honestly the complete lack of responsiveness of the building manager is at least as big a concern as the heat. The level of incompetence is darn near impossible to distinguish from malice.

    He almost never responds to email. It almost always takes multiple, increasingly frustrated emails, over several weeks or even months (Footnote 3), to get any reply at all, even if it’s just ‘call (someone else) at (their number)’ … unless it’s something super easy like, notices were slipped under everyone’s doors about voting on new bylaws, with a note at the end, please email him for a copy of the new bylaws if you don’t have them, so I did, and the response time on that was under a minute. So I know he does have access to email and does check it, he’s just very selective about what he responds to.

    And no, he doesn’t answer the phone, or return calls if you leave a message, either.

    I will be sending another, very sternly worded email, pointing out the waste of money, the comfort issue, and the risk of frozen pipes due to thermostats being overridden by the heat coming in from the hallway, and then my girlfriend has offered to take over on phoning (maybe if there is an unfamiliar number on his call display, he will answer?). She is highly skilled at dealing with broken systems and unhelpful people (Footnote 4) – but I imagine, since she doesn’t live with me and her name isn’t on the title, she will just get stonewalled because privacy.

    After that, I really don’t know. Mail letters to the last board members on record (assuming they even still live there), and the president/owner of the management company? Get RECA involved with licensing for the building manager, and/or the management company? Get a lawyer?

    Thank you again for reading all this!


    Footnote 1: They were pros and didn’t complain in my earshot, but I bought a couple cases of gatorade at costco and they drank all of it.

    Footnote 2: I started taking the radiator apart and sticking my phone into it to take photos of any part with a brand name or model number and googling it all. It turned out that the problem was, the zone valve is a normally open valve, and the thermostats you can buy at big-box hardware stores are for normally-closed systems, so the zone valve was responding to the signals from the thermostat, in reverse. The previous owner had left the thermostat turned up to its maximum setting, to turn the heat off, so when I looked at it and said why on earth is it cranked to max, and turned it off, the heat came on. I was able to find the right kind of thermostat at a specialty plumbing/HVAC store, and once I wired it in, my heat worked properly – but who knows how many other units people have tried to be environmentally responsible and installed programmable thermostats they got at a big box hardware store, and are now trying to manually control their heating by turning it all the way on, or all the way off, in reverse. I would love to create an info sheet about this (and I have the skills to make a good-looking one), and distribute it to everyone in the building, but I think that is the kind of thing that I should get permission from the Board before doing. I also think such an info sheet should have been included in a ‘welcome new owner’ type packet – but I don’t think such a packet exists, or at least I never got one.

    Footnote 3: I could go back and count how many emails it took to get him to send me the forms a new owner needs to complete – it was a lot, and took a subject line in capslock and sharp words to get a reply at all (and several more reminders before he actually sent the forms). Over 3 months, and I lost count of how many emails, to get the intercom connected. One month, and five emails, to be told who to contact to get my move-in damage deposit refunded. Lost count of how many emails and phone calls about not being able to turn off the heat in my unit, never received a reply to any of them.

    Footnote 4: She (and her then-wife) adopted a child pretty much as soon as it became legal for them to do so – and anyone who can successfully navigate the adoption and child welfare system, OR get the necessary disability supports in school for their child, is a serious Boss, but she not only did both, she did so back when homophobia was so much worse and so much more prevalent. She doesn’t think she’s a hero but I do.

    Please spread the word!
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