Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Five Ways to Fix a Slow Sink Drain

A slow, sluggish sink drain is a very common plumbing problem. The bathroom sink is the one most frequently afflicted with this particular problem, and several things can contribute to a slow sink drain. Often the pop-up that is used to stop up the sink can collect a lot of hair and debris, because the sink is used on a daily basis.

Also, soap and other products that are washed down the drain can slowly collect in the drain pipes. The build-up that naturally collects over time reduces the size of the drain, effectively slowing the progress of draining water. This drainage issue happens naturally over time and usually cannot be avoided. The only solution is to clean the drain periodically to keep it flowing.
  • Clear Out Debris With a Zip-It Tool - The first step to getting the sink drain flowing again is to clear out any hair and debris that has collected there. One quite easy way to do this is to use the Zip-it tool, an inexpensive tool that works wonders in just minutes. The Zip-it tool can be put into the drain to catch hair and debris, which can then be pulled out. The Zip-it can be used in a sink drain with or without a pop-up, because it is thin enough to fit in the drain even with a pop-up in place.
  • Remove the Pop-up - The shape of the sink pop-up is such that it often collects debris and build-up. If you do not have a Zip-it tool, or if the tool was not able to clear out all debris, another option is to remove the pop-up and clean it out. Most pop-ups are held in place with a nut attached to the drain just under the sink. To remove the pop-up, reach behind the drain pipe under the sink to find the pop-up nut. Once the nut is removed, the pop-up can be pulled out of the sink drain, cleaned, and then reinstalled.
  • Use Homemade Drain Cleaner - A mild, homemade drain cleaner can be used to clean the drain pipes after the larger debris has been pulled out. The reaction caused by combining two common and inexpensive household products can help to break down the mucky build-up on the inside of the drain pipes. Getting even a little of the build-up out of the drain can help get it flowing freely again. By using homemade drain cleaner, you avoid using harsh chemicals and save money as well.
  • Clear the Sink Overflow - One purpose of the overflow opening is to divert water into the drain if it accidentally rises too high in the sink, of course. But another important purpose is to allow air into the drain when the sink is filled with water. The air that comes into the drain through the overflow helps water in the sink to drain faster. The sink overflow is another place where debris and build-up can collect over time. If a sink is draining slowly and cleaning the drain does not seem to solve the problem, it is a good idea to clean the overflow as well.
  • Use a Plunger - A plunger can be used on a slow sink drain; it does not have to be reserved for a complete drain stoppage. A little plunging can help to loosen and dislodge hair and debris that is collected in the pipe. To be sure that the plunger is effective, cover the sink overflow with a rag or some duct tape before plunging. Covering the overflow helps create a seal, which is needed to clear any blocked pipe.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Kitchen Planning Guidance

A renovated kitchen is one of the biggest selling features in residential real estate. It's worth considering any such projects as a long-term investment - and taking the time to carefully plan every aspect. Right from the start, the most critical challenge is achieving an efficient kitchen layout. Regardless of the size, a kitchen should have the sink, refrigerator and oven/cooktop situated in classic work triangle or quad layout for ease of access within a few steps. It is also important to plan for adequate task lighting, as well as ambient, accent and/or overhead lighting. 

In addition, when designing the kitchen, consider window treatments for ambience and privacy. Even though an abundance of daylight or direct sunlight is generally appreciated, it will probably need to be diffused or screened at different times of day. Once these basic perimeter decisions are determined, devote any available space to comfortable seating, an organized counterspace and practical cabinetry - including drawers, shelving and storage. With so many specialty appliances and utensils being regularly used in modern kitchens, good and thoughtful design is particularly important to ensure a new kitchen is as functional and clutter-free as it is beautiful. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

GTA REALTORS® Release February 2023 Stats

February sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) were down substantially from the pre-rate hike levels of early 2022. However, the number of new listings also dropped substantially year-over-year. The result was that the average selling price and MLS® HPI continued to level off after trending lower through the spring and summer of last year.

“It has been almost a year since the Bank of Canada started raising interest rates. Home prices have dropped over the last year from the record peak in February 2022, mitigating the impact of higher borrowing costs. Many homebuyers have also decided to purchase a lower priced home to help offset higher borrowing costs. The share of home purchases below one million dollars is up substantially compared to this time last year,” said Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) President Paul Baron.

GTA REALTORS® reported 4,783 sales through TRREB’s MLS® System in February 2023 – down 47 per cent compared to February 2022, the last full month before the onset of interest rate hikes. The number of new listings entered into the system was down by a similar annual rate of 40.9 per cent to 8,367.

“New listings continued to drop year-over-year in the GTA. Recently released Ipsos polling suggests buying intentions have picked up for 2023. This increased demand will run up against a constrained supply of listings and lead to increased competition between buyers. This will eventually lead to renewed price growth in many segments of the market, especially those catering to first-time buyers facing increased rental costs,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

The average selling price for February 2023 was $1,095,617 – down 17.9 per cent compared to February 2022. Some of this decline is attributable to the fact that the share of sales below $1,000,000 was 57 per cent in February 2023 versus only 38 per cent a year earlier. On a monthly basis, the average price followed the regular seasonal trend, increasing relative to January 2023. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was down year-over-year by a similar annual rate of 17.7 per cent, but was also up on a monthly basis.

“As we move toward a June mayoral by-election in Toronto, housing supply will once again be front and centre in the policy debate. New and innovative solutions, including the City of Toronto’s initiative to allow duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in all neighbourhoods citywide, need to come to fruition if we are to achieve an adequate and diverse housing supply that will support record population growth in the years to come,” said TRREB Chief Executive Officer John DiMichele.

TRREB MLS® Sales-to-New Listings Ratio February 2023

TRREB MLS® New Listings February 2023

TRREB MLS® Sales February 2023

TRREB MLS® Average Price February 2023

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

There are a few things you can do to prevent the problem of freezing pipes from occurring. 
  • Leave the faucet dripping during the coldest times. The steadily moving water will keep the pipes slightly above the freezing point and prevent them from freezing. No one wants to waste water, but it is better than dealing with burst pipes. A burst pipe can easily spill several hundred gallons of water per hour.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow the heated air from the room to reach pipes inside the cabinet. This is often sufficient to prevent kitchen pipes from freezing on the coldest nights.
  • Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape and plug it in when the weather is especially cold.
  • Insulate problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces. But remember that insulation merely slows the transfer of heat and will not prevent a pipe from freezing if the surrounding air is cold enough. ​
  • Install a permanent heater to keep areas with pipes above the freezing point. For example, an unheated basement or garage can be fitted with a permanent baseboard heater to keep temperatures above freezing. However, do not use portable heaters, which should never be left running unattended.
  • Remove garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets (hose bibs or sillcocks). If the faucet is not a frost-proof type, winterize the pipes by turning off the water to the faucet inside the house and draining the exterior section of the pipe and faucet.