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Is Your Drinking Water Really Safe to Drink? How to Be Sure

safe drinking water

It’s fun to watch movies about backcountry hiking or read books about how to survive if you get lost in the woods.

These types of activities can spark your imagination as well as lively conversation.

But in many parts of the world today, finding sources of safe drinking water, food, and shelter is not a mental exercise but a daily necessity.

And even here in Canada, large-scale waterborne disease outbreaks have made news headlines as recently as 2010, with a death toll of seven right here in Ontario.

As modernized as our water treatment protocols have become, they are by no means failsafe or foolproof. As of 2015, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) article reported that half of all waterborne disease outbreaks occur in smaller drinking water systems.

Here, the primary causes have been either a failure of an individual water system or a failure of a local water treatment facility. Nearly 300 unique outbreaks were studied, each of which affected the drinking water in certain regions of Canada or the United States.

With statistics like these, how can you know for sure that your drinking water is really safe? We have the answer—and it isn't trusting the local water treatment centers!

Bacteria, Parasites, Fungi: Drinking Water's Hidden Dangers

What types of contaminants can lead to unsafe drinking water conditions? And what types of water systems are most vulnerable to contamination?

The NIH study showed that reservoirs, wells, water bodies, cisterns, and even underground springs are all vulnerable to contamination by a wide range of pathogens.

Bacteria, parasites, fungi, chemicals, viral matter, and other pathogens can enter these and other types of water supply systems in any number of ways.

Documented entry points include storms that lead to flooding, waterline breaches, sewer line backflow, inadequate filtration, and poor system maintenance. These and other similar factors have all been implicated in permitting pathogens to enter the water supply and contaminate drinking water here in Canada.

As well, as Canada's weather patterns are becoming more intense and unpredictable, floods, fires, and other extreme weather events are becoming more commonplace and placing more strain on city and rural water treatment systems from every direction.

Actions by homeowners and renters can have their own measurable impact. For example, as many as one-quarter of Canadians may be a carrier for Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), a potent micro-parasite present in feline waste.

Simple improper disposal of used kitty litter can cause local water supplies to be infiltrated with this incredibly resilient micro-organism, which can cause irreversible fetal birth defects as well as toxoplasmosis in adults and children.

The Government of Canada points out that use of certain household chemicals such as cleaners, paints and solvents, bleach, adhesives and glues, pesticides, and oil products can leach into the water supply through storm drains and rain runoff.

Improper disposal of household items—everything from dental floss to diapers—can also cause major backups at local water and sewage treatment facilities, making the job of keeping drinking water supplies safe just that much more difficult.

What Works to Keep Your Personal Drinking Water Safe

As development continues and the human population increases, this places ever-increasing strain on all community systems. The local water treatment facilities are no exception. This means that we are all relying on each other to do our utmost to keep our shared water supplies clean and pure.

Luckily, you don’t have to rely on the “honor system” to make sure your own personal supply of drinking water is safe to consume!

As it turns out, the very best water purification technology isn’t human-made at all. It comes from our the sun. The sun emits ultraviolet light in three bands—A, B, and C. Bands A and B are already hard at work attempting to keep our planet from being overrun with toxins.

Band C is the most powerful natural purifier and cleaner of all, but the ozone layer that surrounds our planet keeps it from getting through into our atmosphere. Here is where nature and human ingenuity come together to do what neither can do on their own—keep your drinking water pure and safe!

Today’s ultraviolet water purification systems use human-generated UV-C spectrum light to neutralize 99.9 percent of waterborne toxins on contact. Unlike with chlorine and similar water additives, UV-C light doesn’t change the appearance or the taste of your water. It also doesn’t change the natural composition of your water in any way, other than to neutralize toxins that could impact your health.

When you add an ultraviolet light water purification system to your home’s water supply, you get lovely pure, clean, fresh water that tastes great and truly is safe to drink.

Ultraviolet Water Purification Maintenance

The use of UV light to purify water and air is not a new invention. It has been happening since the beginning of time naturally, and for many decades in commercial and residential applications.

Best of all, this type of system is incredibly economical to maintain. Aside from changing the UV bulb every 12 to 24 months, the system is self-maintaining. And you won't see a spike in your energy bill, either. A whole-home UV water purification system runs on the same amount of energy it takes to power a single 60-watt lightbulb.

Get in Touch

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we have more than 70 years of industry expertise to serve all of your HVAC and plumbing needs. We are not just a local business. We are residents, too, and proud to call the Muskoka area home!

And remember, we are always on call for you with our 24/7 emergency repair service that includes holidays, weekends, and evenings. Contact us online, or give us a call at 877-885-3403 to request a free quote for an ultraviolet water purification system, learn about our line of standby generators, schedule HVAC maintenance, and more!

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Winter Temperatures Are Plunging: How to Heat Your Home in a Hurry!

temperature dropping

If there is one weather fact we can count on here in Canada, it is this: you just never know what a Canadian winter may bring.

This particular winter season is shaping up to be a memorable one for sure, earning an array of daunting headlines such as “grim,” “old-fashioned deep freeze” and “classic Canadian winter.”


But the good news is, it is never too late to warm up your home and workplace with efficient, effective heating solutions that can be installed without disruption to your home or work routines.

In this article, we review the newest heating technology so you can choose the option that best fits your space and needs.

All Heating Options Are Not Created Equally

If there is one thing we have learned in our 70-plus years of service to date, it is this: all heating options are not equally cost effective and efficient to install and use.

As well, some options take extensive renovations or retrofits, while others can feel as simple to install and use as plug-and-play.

Here, more space to heat doesn’t necessarily have to mean more complex heating solutions, either. Thanks in large part to the new wave of heating technology developed to address the unfolding concerns regarding climate change, today’s options are more compact and customization-friendly than at any other time in history.

Here are three examples of simple, turnkey heating solutions we particularly love:

Fujitsu Halcyon

One example is the Fujitsu Halcyon systems we love. These are zone-based ductless heating furnaces. These simple, compact, efficient, and low-maintenance heating systems can work equally well in a single-room efficiency apartment and a multi-story family home.

Best of all, the zone system makes it possible to target precise areas to heat and avoid spending to heat unused spaces.


Nuheat is an innovative new system to heat the cold floors by simply laying down customized mats, cables, membranes, mesh, or a suitable combination of these options.

Nuheat can be safely placed beneath tiles, wood flooring, marble, stone, laminate, and other types of flooring, including inside showers and sauna rooms. The heating is even and consistent and a Wi-Fi thermostat attachment (sold separately) can help you control heating and energy costs even further.

Electric Radiant Heating

An alternative to Nuheat is traditional electric radiant heating, which is now available in both permanent installation and portable versions. This is another way to provide even, targeted heating in specific areas within your space without paying extra for wasted heat energy.

Even better, with electric radiant heating, you don’t suffer the drying effects of traditional heated air systems, which can leave you more susceptible to cold, flu, nosebleeds, allergies, and respiratory discomfort.

’Tis the Season for Standby Generators

With all of our wonderful modern technology, it is so easy to forget all about the pure power of nature. One deep snowfall, one furious winter squall, one batch of ice sheeting, and there goes all of our modern winter comforts!

This makes winter a particularly ideal time to consider adding a standby generator as a source of limited or whole home emergency power. A standby generator can provide extra comfort during seasonal power outages. But it can do much more than that.

For those family members who rely on oxygen or assistive at-home medical devices, having a standby generator installed that will kick in when the power goes out can make the difference between life and death. In other areas as well, a standby generator can more than earn back your investment in just one incident by providing the power to save the food stores you have tucked away in your refrigerator and freezer.

One of the best ways to determine if now is the right time to invest in a standby generator to support your existing power grid is to ask yourself what is at stake if your power goes out for 24 hours or more. The questions in this blog post can help you determine whether this is the year to make this type of valuable long-term investment.

Rent a Heater—Yes, It Really Is Possible!

Sometimes it just isn’t the right time to invest in new heating equipment. Perhaps you don’t plan to live in your current home long-term or you have already made another significant investment and new heating equipment just isn’t in the budgetary cards at the moment.

Did you know you can rent heating equipment very affordably just for the times you need some extra heat?

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we don’t want any family to have to shiver their way through the epic Canadian winter season! For this reason, we have started to offer heating and cooling equipment on a rental basis.

Our rental agreement is very economical. For every $1,000 in equipment value, you pay $15 per month per item you are renting. So, for example, let’s say you want to rent a furnace for six months. Here, you would pay less than $100 (with taxes) for your rental term.

There is also an option to purchase the equipment at any time during your rental term or at its conclusion. If you are ready to purchase new heating equipment but are not in a position to purchase it in full right now, this permits you to pay down a portion of your costs month by month until you are financially ready to make your purchase.

Perhaps the best perk that can come from renting heating equipment is the chance to try out a particular heating system to see if this is what you want to commit to on a long-term basis.

Get In Touch

Give us a call at 877-885-3403 to find out how our 70-plus years of heating expertise can support you so you can have the safest, warmest winter this year and every year!

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Stay Healthy This Winter With a Little Help from Your Indoor Air Quality Experts!

portable humidifier

If you are new to Canada's notorious winter weather, you may be understandably taken aback the first time a real winter cold front rolls in.

According to the Government of Canada, Canada can dish out extreme weather—to the level at which it takes some deliberate actions on the part of newcomers to adjust successfully.

But even if you are a veteran of Canada winters, it is always good to take a fresh look at your preparations. Are you doing enough to winterize your home to stay healthy and save as much as possible on heating costs? Is the indoor air you are breathing as germ- and toxin-free as it can possibly be?

In this article, we share two vital indoor air quality tips to help you stay healthy this winter.

Hydrate for Respiratory Health

When the weather here in Ontario gets warm, it usually isn’t a problem to stay hydrated. This is because it is often also quite humid during the warm season here.

Humidity can easily reach 60 percent or greater, which keeps your skin, tissues, and respiratory passages nice and moist to trap and repel airborne pollen and germs.

But in winter, as the temperature plunges, the humidity level typically does the same. This is actually one of the main reasons why winter has become synonymous with "cold and flu season."

Without sufficient moisture in the air to keep your nasal and respiratory passages moist and lubricated with mucus, your body is less well able to fight off germs. In winter, it is not uncommon for humidity levels to drop to 20 percent or lower. Running your heater will dry out your indoor air even further, leaving you prey to all kinds of health issues.

Here, your goal will be to keep winter humidity levels inside your home between 30 and 50 percent to keep your body hydrated. To do this, you will need to add back moisture to your indoor air.

Here are five methods that can work well to accomplish this, depending on your budget and the size of your space:

  1. Don't use your exhaust vent when you shower or take a bath. If you allow the humidity to build up and then open the door as soon as you have finished bathing, this will allow the steam to infuse your indoor air and raise the humidity levels.

  2. Boil a pot of water on the stove. Not only will a pot of boiling water release steam into the air, but if you add a cinnamon stick or some citrus peel, your home will smell lovely naturally!

  3. Place a heat-safe bowl filled with water on top of your radiator. This has an effect similar to boiling water on the stove. The heat from the radiator unit will vaporize the water and disperse humidity into the air in that room.

  4. Use a portable humidifier. If anyone in your family struggles with allergies or asthma, using a portable humidifier in that person's bedroom and/or in general living areas can help reduce symptoms.

  5. Install a whole home humidifier. A whole home humidifier can work with your furnace system to balance indoor winter humidity levels. A dehumidifier can do the same in summer.

Ventilate to Oxygenate Your Body

Oxygen is vital for every cell in your body. With each exhale, you release your body's main by-product, carbon dioxide, back into the air. In an airtight, enclosed space, this will shift the balance in the air from oxygen-rich to carbon dioxide-rich.

Common symptoms of oxygen-poor indoor air include headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, sweating, a rise in heart rate, irritability, fatigue and anxiety, among others. These symptoms, in turn, activate your immune system, which in time will become fatigued battling a problem (oxygen deprivation) it cannot hope to correct.

This leaves your body more vulnerable to airborne germs and allergens, which for many of us ends predictably with a bout of winter cold and/or flu.

Oxygen-poor indoor air is a particular issue in winter, since most people don't even consider opening doors or windows when the weather outside is cold, rainy or snowy. As well, you will likely be more inclined to stay indoors, where you will continue depleting the same indoor air of oxygen.

Here are four of the best methods to re-oxygenate through ventilation this winter, depending on your budget and the size of your space:

  1. Close the door to one room and then open a window. Select a windowed room. Close the door and the air register. Then open the window and set a timer for 30 minutes. After that time, close the window and then open the door to let the fresh, oxygen-rich outside air filter into your home.

  2. Continue to run your fans, but in reverse mode. Ceiling fans generally have a switch that reverses the blades in winter. This serves to pull the cool air up and push the warm air down to even out the temperature. But its more important function is to keep the air moving throughout your home so no one room becomes too depleted of oxygen.

  3. Add houseplants to your indoor space. Plants "breathe" carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen as their waste product. This makes plants the perfect addition to keep your home oxygenated!

  4. Install a heat or energy recovery ventilator to provide whole home ventilation. As Natural Resources Canada explains, a heat/energy recovery ventilator (HRV/ERV) is a useful appliance for keeping your indoor air fresh and oxygenated year-round. If your home isn't ducted, you can even install separate ducting to run your HRV!

Give Us a Call

Need help staying healthy this winter? Give us a call at 877.885.3403!

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Save On Your Hot Water Costs & Save the Planet Too!

hot water heat recovery

If you have never heard of drain water heat recovery (DWHR) until now, you are in for a treat! We love this energy-saving, water-saving, cash-saving way to get more out of every drop of hot water you use.

Let's say you turn your faucet to the hot water setting. The moment the heated water starts to come out, you use what you need and then turn the tap off again. But in that simple, brief time, much of the hot water coming out of your faucet has actually gone right down the drain unused!

The U.S. Department of Energy explains how anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of the energy draw to heat your water disappears with the unused portion of your hot water. What a waste of perfectly good (and not cheap) extra heat energy!

With a drain water heat recovery system, you can put that otherwise wasted heat energy to good secondary use—preheating cold water for future hot water needs. Keep reading to learn more about how this innovative energy and cash saving system works!

What is Drain Water?

There are three different types of water: white, grey, and black. White water is fresh tap water that has not yet been used for any purpose. Black water is, essentially, toilet water.

Grey water comes from sinks, tubs, showers, and washing machines. So this water may contain a bit of other matter, such as soap residue, hair, skin flakes, cooking oil, and washing or cleaning products.

Drain water is grey water. Essentially, grey water is "gently used" water that can still be re-purposed for a variety of energy-saving uses. For our purposes here, this water will be reused for its remaining heat content.

The way that this energy is captured for re-use will depend on what type of hot water heater system you have, so that is what we will look at next.

Re-Using Water Heat With Your Hot Water Heater

There are two basic types of hot water heaters: storage and non-storage (otherwise known as on demand).

Storage hot water heaters will use the remaining heat energy from your home's grey water to preheat the stored water for future uses.

Non-storage hot water heaters will use the remaining heat energy to preheat the water that flows out to meet immediate hot water demands.

What is important to know here is that both types of hot water heater systems can make use of this otherwise wasted heat energy.

As well, both types of systems use a heat exchange coil to capture and reuse the heat energy. The placement of this coil is just different depending on what type of system you use.

How the Heat Exchange Process Works

Different systems may have slightly different names for their heat exchange technology. Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, we work with a wonderful company called RenewABILITY Energy. Their system is called the Power-Pipe® DWHR.

The Power-Pipe® is a patented system that harnesses grey water heat energy through a process called Falling Film Heat Exchange.

Here is a brief step-by-step of how this system works:

  • Unused hot water falls from the tap down the drain.

  • The 1 mm wide wall of fast free-falling hot water hits the sides of the drain pipe.

  • As it falls, this water hits a section of special copper drain pipe surrounded by coils of copper wire (this section is added to your drain pipe system during Power-Pipe® installation).

  • When the water enters the Power-Pipe® section of copper drain pipe, an energy hand-off occurs when the water transfers its remaining unused heat to the surrounding external copper coils.

  • The copper coils, in turn, are full of fresh incoming cold water, which receives the transferred heat and begins to warm up in advance of any future hot water demands.

  • Current estimates indicate that incoming cold water can increase by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit before the water even enters the water heater unit itself, which is an energy draw savings of up to 25 percent of what your hot water heater normally requires to function.

This system is what is called a Double Wall Heat Exchanger. The "double wall" is what ensures the incoming cold white water and the still-heated draining grey water never meet and mix. Rather, the combination of copper-on-copper permits safe transfer of the unused, re-usable heat energy while keeping the two water sources completely separate.

Who Can Use a Drain Water Heat Recovery System?

Here is the best news of all—the reason why we are so passionate about introducing our clients to the Power-Pipe® system of heat energy re-use: This system can be used safely, effectively, and affordably in ANY type of structure!

Single-family homes, multi-unit residences, commercial businesses, factories, and industrial warehouses are all good candidates to harness this otherwise wasted source of heat energy to save money and help conserve our planet's dwindling freshwater resources.

What Type of Savings Are We Talking About Here?

How much you save on hot water heating-related energy costs annually will depend on how much hot water you use. The Power-Pipe® system is designed to help you save up to 40 percent on your hot water heating costs annually.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that it will take anywhere from 2.5 to 7 years following installation to recoup your investment. Here, of course, the price of the initial installation as well as your average hot water usage both impact this estimate.

For commercial entities, installation of a drain water heat recovery system comes with additional payoffs, including smoothing the path to obtaining and maintaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) sustainable building design certification.

Give Us a Call

It is simple and quick to install a drain water heat recovery system and the system itself is quite affordable given your return on investment.

Give us a call at 877-885-3403 or visit us online to schedule your initial consultation!

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5 Reasons You Need a Home Standby Generator Now

backup generater

A home standby generator, otherwise known as a home backup generator, is no longer an optional appliance for many homeowners today.

With its unprecedented thunderstorms, tornado activity, flooding, and outdated water control infrastructure, the entire Muskoka district has been subjected to intense and unusual weather activity over the past several months.

Ongoing climate change is contributing to ever-warming temperatures across Canada, which is thought to be fueling this strange and severe weather activity.

In light of these occurrences, if you have been considering adding a home standby generator to your family home safety toolkit, there has never been a better time than now!

What Is a Standby Generator?

A standby generator is like a power guard. While you have power, the generator will just sit quietly in its place. It won’t draw any power or cost you any money.

This is how the standby generator earned its nickname of “home backup” generator. You will quickly see why, the moment the power to your home goes out.

The instant you lose power to your home, your home backup generator will sense it. It will then switch on and supply all the power you need until your central power is restored.

The moment central power is restored, your generator will sense it once again and turn itself off. Then it will sit quietly until the next moment it is needed.

Features of Standby Generators

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we are proud distributors of the Generac brand of generators.

Generac’s line of standby generators offers you a compact, space-saving design packed full of cutting-edge, cost-saving features such as these:

  • Mobile-link technology permits you to check on your generator when you are away from home.

  • Fuel choice lets you choose from on-grid and off-grid generators powered by natural gas, liquid propane and diesel, and all offer fuel-efficient operation.

  • Certain generators offer an intuitive remote control device with multiple language options.

  • Standby generators can tap right into the central electrical panel so you don’t have to deal with extension cords.

  • Certain generators come code-ready for installation and can be placed as close to the house as 18 inches!

  • These “smart” generators auto-sense a power outage and kick into gear, whether they are routed for whole-home power restoration or simply protection of sensitive appliances and electronics.

  • With different power levels, you can select the generator with the right capacity for your home’s average power draw.

5 Reasons to Invest in a Home Backup Generator

In today’s uncertain climate, a better question might be, “Why not?” Still, a generator, like any other home improvement decision, can represent a significant investment.

So let’s take a quick look at some of the many reasons homeowners tell us they are ready to add a home backup generator to their home safety toolkit:

  1. Temperature control. It is one thing to lose power in the spring or fall when temperature is typically temperate and manageable. But imagine if the power failed in winter when the temperature outside was a mind-numbing -26 degrees Celsius!

  2. Safeguarding perishables. For a single person who is used to eating out, a loss of power probably won’t do much damage in terms of food perishables. But once you have a family, there can easily be several hundred dollars’ worth of refrigerated and frozen food at stake if the power goes out.

  3. Hot water. No one likes stone-cold showers, even if it is brutally hot outside. And just try to imagine waking up without your morning coffee or tea… that is usually all it takes to convince caffeine addicts of the value of having a standby generator during a power outage!

  4. Basement flooding. In some homes, the sump pump stops working when the electricity goes out. The easiest fix for this is to equip the sump pump with a backup battery. But another equally easy fix is to invest in a standby generator, which can do a lot more for you during an outage than just run your sump pump.

  5. Resale value. When it comes time to sell your home, the presence of a standby generator can add to its resale value and appeal.

How to Choose a Standby Generator

There are two basic kinds of generators: portable and stationary.

Portable generator

The portable generator is what most people are most familiar with—typically, this is a compact, lightweight generator that needs to be manually plugged in before it will power on and work. It usually powers only one or two essential appliances at a time.

Stationary generator

The stationary generator typically needs to be installed by an electrical professional and will hook into the central power source to automatically power on and off during power outages. It usually is able to power several essential appliances at a time, or in some cases, an entire household.

Then there are two basic models of standby generators: a managed generator and a whole house generator.

Managed generator

A managed generator will power a suite of essential items, such as a sump pump, refrigerator/freezer, security system, garage door opener, and furnace fan. You can choose which items your standby generator powers, but you won’t be able to power your whole home all at once with this type of generator.

Whole house generator

A whole house generator can “act as if” your regular power source has been restored, powering any and every appliance and gadget in your home at the same time.

Clearly, you will need to invest more to power your whole house versus choosing to power only certain essentials during a power outage.

Give Us a Call

Need help selecting and installing a standby generator? Call us at 877-885-3403 or contact us online!

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Where There Is Fire, There is Smoke: Safeguarding Your Indoor Air Quality

wildfire smoke indoor air quality

According to weather experts, 2017 was not supposed to be a "wildfire year" for Canada.

But as it turned out, when you mix climate change leading to record-setting high temperatures, lightening strikes and dry air, this creates "perfect storm-like" conditions for wildfires to develop.

To further worsen the situation, many Western areas throughout North America, including both Canada and the United States, are burning, and the smoke that the combined wildfires are producing can be seen from space. As the smoke intensifies, airborne toxins spread farther and across the continent, affecting those who live hundreds or thousands of miles from the source.

With more than 500 wildfires reported just in British Columbia thus far, it is now clear this is one of the worst seasons for wildfires in recent history. In this article, we outline how to ensure your indoor air quality remains safe and healthy for you and your family during this dangerous time!

What Is In Airborne Smoke?

Smoke doesn't seem that threatening visually. It turns the air white or grey and often carries dust and fine debris.

Unfortunately, smoke and the debris it produces represent a toxic blend of airborne gases and particulate matter, including some of the deadliest known to science today.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) published the results of a study in Critical Reviews in Toxicology that named the major toxins present in airborne smoke as follows:

  • Carbon monoxide

  • Hydrogen cyanide

  • Nitrogen

  • Halogens (inorganic chemical acids)

  • Ethanol

To further complicate matters, fire is a voracious consumer of oxygen, which leaves the resulting air very oxygen-poor. Instead of breathing in oxygen, you are now breathing in the toxic chemicals listed here plus copious quantities of carbon dioxide, which further depletes your body's oxygen reserves.

The combination of elevated smoke/fire-related airborne toxins plus the resultant oxygen depletion can reach fatal levels 10 percent faster than the presence of either danger on its own.

Health Dangers of Airborne Smoke

According to Air Now, a partnership between agencies throughout North America, smoke is a potent source of air pollution. While it may smell good when coming from your holiday fireplace or someone’s campfire outside, your lungs and heart are not enjoying it nearly as much as the rest of you.

And when the smoke is coming from what is now said to be one of the largest continuously burning banks of wildfires in recent history, the potential health impacts can range from mild to catastrophic.

Proximity and pre-existing health conditions combine to indicate who bears the greatest health risk from breathing in smoke-filled air.

If you or a loved one has any of these health conditions, it is critically important to ensure you have a continuous smoke-free source of indoor air to breathe:

  • Heart condition

  • Lung condition

  • Asthma

  • Allergies

  • Diabetes

  • Trying to conceive or currently pregnant

Also, very young and elderly individuals are more at-risk of experiencing more serious side effects from breathing in smoke-filled air.

The most commonly reported side effects arising from breathing in smoke-filled air include:

  • Respiratory symptoms: watering or itching eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, wheezing, phlegm, breathing issues, increased asthma attacks.

  • Cardiovascular symptoms: heart palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, fatigue, inability to breathe deeply.

How to Clean Your Indoor Air

The best time to clean your indoor air is before wildfire season even arrives. This preventative step ensures the least health impact from either airborne smoke-related toxins or oxygen depletion or both.

Happily, indoor air quality (IAQ) technology has made a giant leap forward in recent years, with the result that you have more efficient and more affordable IAQ options to choose from than at any other time in history.

As well, any technology you choose to implement will protect you not just during wildfire season, but year-round.

Here is a list of the major IAQ aids we recommend for our clients:

1. Heat Recovery Ventilator  or Energy Recovery Ventilator

Both HRV and ERV systems ensure that fresh incoming air and stale outgoing air do not meet and mix. Both systems also filter out airborne toxins, boost HVAC and furnace efficiency, and balance humidity in your indoor air systems.

ERVs are generally recommended for warmer and more humid climates, while HRVs work well in more temperate climates with lower humidity.

2. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration system

The HEPA filtration system is currently the "gold standard" for indoor air filtration. HEPA filters are often installed in hospital and laboratory settings, but today's HEPA options include residential filters as well. HEPA filters can filter out airborne particulate matter as small as 0.3 microns (the width of a single human hair!).

In addition to using HEPA-rated filters with your existing HVAC unit (if rated at a MERV 16+), you can retrofit any HVAC system with a HEPA whole-house filtration system that filters the air before it enters your ducts.

You can also purchase HEPA-rated vacuum cleaners for use on your floors and carpeting.

3. MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) furnace filters

A MERV-rated furnace filter of 16 or higher is the equivalent grade of a residential HEPA filter and can filter out even very tiny toxic particles in your indoor air.

4. Dehumidifiers and humidifiers

The amount of indoor air humidity can exacerbate or reduce the potential health impact of toxic airborne chemicals, gases, and particulate matter.

The ideal range is 30 to 50 percent humidity, which may mean using a combination of humidification and dehumidification to regulate your indoor air humidity levels.

5. Portable air filters

For homes that are lacking a central duct system, portable air filters with a high CADR (central air delivery rate) rating can achieve a similar effect as the other aids listed here.

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Tips for a Speedy and Seamless Cottage Closing

cottage closing fall

Wow! In just a few weeks, we will be welcoming September and the beginnings of fall! And even though memories of opening your cottage for the warm season are likely still fresh, it will soon be time to close it down again for the return of the cold.

If you have had your seasonal cottage for years, you likely know the drill—perhaps you just need a bit of professional assistance when you are crunched for time.

But if you are new to seasonal cottage upkeep and maintenance, the onset of cottage closing season can be a stressful endeavor.

In this post, we offer our favorite tips for a speedy and seamless cottage closing process. We are also happy to work with you to ensure your cabin is winterized properly before winter actually arrives.

When to Close Your Summer Cottage

As climate change continues to unfold, some of our long-predictable weather patterns are beginning to shift. This can make it more challenging to choose an optimal cottage closing date.

Traditionally, cottage owners have aimed to have a seasonal cottage closed and winterized no later than Thanksgiving weekend, perhaps earlier, if snow is predicted to make an early appearance that year.

Herein, of course, lies the essential seasonal conundrum—close your cottage too early and you miss out on some of the loveliest weather of the whole year. Close too late and every step of the cottage closing process will be harder to complete.

So aim to close down your cottage as soon as your fall schedule no longer feasibly permits you to visit the cottage regularly. This way, you have ample time to attend to each critical item, which is particularly vital if this is your first go-round with fall cottage closing procedures!

Major Cottage Closing Checklist

Some items on your cottage closing checklist are simply too important to be neglected. Forget or skip over these items and you may return to a ghastly and expensive repair job.

1. Drain and wrap your pipes. You want to be sure you guard against pipes freezing and bursting over the winter season. Drain out the water and then shut off the main water valve.

2. Leak-proof your hot water heater. Only by draining and turning off your hot water heater can you be sure it won't spring a damaging mid-winter leak.

3. Defrost your refrigerator/freezer. Unplug it and leave the doors slightly ajar to prevent mould and mildew. Remove all food, even canned items, which may freeze and/or spoil or attract wildlife.

4. Prepare your septic/sump system for winter. What you do can depend on the height of your water table and whether your pipes pump uphill or downhill. Take advice from the manufacturer or an expert on how to winterize your particular system.

5. Wildlife-proof your roof, vents, main cottage, and storage shed areas. Rodents and insects will be eager to enter your cabin to shelter when temperatures drop. Re-seal old caulking, install vent screens, close your fireplace chimney flue, and take other specific precautions as needed to keep out wildlife.

6. Take in and secure all equipment, furniture, docks, vehicles, and gear. Secure these inside your shed to prevent them from becoming damaging missiles during winter's storms. Be SURE you factor in the possibility of rising water in deciding where to store these valuable items.

7. Secure any items to be left outside during winter. If there are items that are too cumbersome or large to be moved easily or for which you simply have no storage space indoors, be sure to secure them in some way—chains and a heavy-duty lock often work well.

8. Make a decision about your main power supply. Some cottage owners leave it on to power security systems or safety lighting. This is a very individual decision—take help from an expert if you need it to make the best decision. If you do unplug completely, make sure to unplug each appliance individually as well.

9. Check to be sure all seasonal vehicle and cottage insurance is up-to-date. Insurance may not be the most fun part of owning a seasonal cottage and seasonal vehicles/recreational gear, but it sure comes in handy when these treasures become damaged, vandalized, or stolen!

Minor Cottage Closing Checklist

Other items on your cottage closing checklist are less critical in terms of cottage safety and security, but doing them will definitely make your life easier when it comes time to reopen your cottage in the spring.

1. Winterize your lawn and garden. Clear out old foliage, mow, weed, and add a layer or two of protective mulch for winter.

2. Clean out and winterize your fireplace. If you have a working fireplace you've been using, any leftover debris will become a winter critter magnet. In addition, cleaning, repairing, and oiling all fireplace and flue mechanisms will make it much easier to reopen it for use in the spring.

3. Give your cottage itself a good pre-winter cleaning. This includes wrapping pillows, mattresses, cushions, and linens in plastic to keep dust mites and other tiny creatures out. You can place fabric softener sheets inside the plastic to act as a further repellant.

4. Place anti-damp packets in each room to guard against excess winter humidity. This will stave off spring issues with mould or mildew and help ease any musty odour.

Give Us a Call

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, our goal is to make your seasonal cottage opening and closing chores as straightforward and simple as possible. If you need guidance on your particular cottage fixtures, we can help. If you would feel more comfortable having a pro close up and winterize your cottage, give us a call at 877-885-3403.

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Letís Talk About Humidity


Humidity has become a hot-button topic in HVAC circles these days. As it turns out, it’s more than just the reason for “bad hair days” and prescription-strength antiperspirant.

Excessive humidity can also cause significant structural damage to your home or workplace and it has been implicated in many health issues.

However, too much humidity isn’t the sole perpetrator of poor health or home repairs: not enough humidity is just as guilty of causing health symptoms and home damage.

What can you do to balance out the humidity levels inside your home? Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry—it can all seem like too much to manage!

In this article, we will explain how humidity affects you and your home or workplace and steps you can take to ensure year-round optimal humidity levels.

Humidity Defined

So what precisely is “humidity?” According to Canada’s Department of Environmental and Climate Change, humidity is a measure of how much water vapour is present in the air at any given time.

Meteorologists commonly use the term “relative humidity” to express how much humidity is in the air from one day to the next. They do this by comparing the amount of water vapour in the air on that day versus the amount of vapour that would be present if the humidity was at 100 percent.

The closer the percentage of relative humidity gets to 100 percent, the more likely you are to see rain, dew, mist, and/or fog forming. This is caused when the air releases excess water vapour.

Seasonal Humidity Explained

As you have no doubt noticed purely by experience, humidity tends to increase in the hot summer months. It also tends to decrease during the cold winter months.

However, thanks in large part to our increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, this model does not always hold firm.

There can be times, for instance, when the weather is quite hot yet the humidity is very low (if you have ever been to Arizona in the United States, you already know how hot, dry weather can feel!).

And there can be times when winter gets really damp, especially when a cold front hasn’t quite blown through yet and it is raining and sort of muggy. During these times, you might feel like you can never completely dry off or warm up.

However, as the Ontario Lung Association (OLA) points out, there are some guidelines that can help you sort out the humidity levels inside your home, even if you can’t control what is going on outside your four walls.

The recommended range for humidity indoors is between 30 and 50 percent. In the summer, the level will likely hover closer to the 50 percent mark. In the winter, you are more apt to see humidity levels around the 30 percent mark.

But if humidity climbs higher than 50 percent or drops lower than 30 percent, this is when you will see issues begin to crop up on both health and structural levels.

The Dangers of Too Much Humidity

Perhaps the best-known and most publicized danger of too-high humidity levels is mould and mildew growth.

Optimal conditions for mould and mildew growth are warm and damp, but they will propagate quite happily when it is cool and damp as well.

Many homes see mould and mildew growing sporadically in naturally damp, humid rooms such as the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, or the basement. At humidity levels above 50 percent, however, there is the risk that small mould or mildew colonies will send out spores that will settle and replicate in other areas of your home as well.

Mould and mildew aren’t just expensive to clean up. They are also toxic when you breathe in the spores. Living in very humid conditions can also cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke and increased risk of bacterial and fungal infection and illness.

The Dangers of Too Little Humidity

Of course, just when you are fervently wishing for less humidity, the cold season arrives and the humidity index plunges. Now, instead of too much humidity, you are coping with too little humidity, which brings its own series of dangers with it.

As long as the humidity level in the air is at 30 percent or higher, you are unlikely to experience too much discomfort, especially because even in winter, humidity can fluctuate.

But when the humidity levels plunge lower than 30 percent, you may begin to notice your respiratory health deteriorating as your nasal membranes dry out. Your skin may crack and your lips may chap. If you catch a cold or the flu, you will likely get sicker because there isn’t enough mucus to send the airborne germs packing.

Anything made of wood, from flooring to furniture to cottages, will also experience stress during very low humidity conditions. Cracking, buckling, and separation are all common side effects of too little humidity.

How to Balance Your Indoor Air Humidity

You need three key components to keep your indoor air humidity balanced year-round:

  1. Hygrometer. This simple, affordable device can be found at any local hardware store. It will measure the humidity level in your home.

  2. Humidifier. These fabulous devices will add essential humidity to your indoor air supply during very low humidity conditions to keep your furnishings and your health in optimal condition.

  3. Dehumidifier. These incredible devices will remove excess moisture (water vapour) from your indoor air and keep the humidity level within your desired range.

Give Us a Call

Are you having problems keeping your indoor humidity levels balanced, safe, and healthy? We can help! Give us a call at 705-687-3402 or 877-885-3403 or contact us online.

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Dreaming of Home Renovations? What You Need to Know About Building Permits

home renovations building permits

According to the Financial Post, Canadian homeowners are tackling remodeling projects in record numbers. BNN reports that, as of 2017, nearly half of all Canadian homeowners report that they plan to invest in home renovations this year!

When asked what their biggest remodel-related concerns are, these homeowners replied: project delays, spending too much, and the disruption to their regular home routines.

If you are planning a home remodel in the near future, you can probably relate to these concerns! You may also be worried about the permitting process itself. But Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric can help you! Read on to learn the basics of applying for a building permit and how that process works.

The Hazards of Renovating Without a Permit

While this is not advisable, it is also not uncommon to find homeowners opting to complete small renovation projects without going through the building permit process.

There are four main areas where this strategy can backfire:

  • It can put you in a precarious negotiating position when you want to sell your home. Buyers are often reluctant to take on the responsibility of buying a home that includes unpermitted renovations.

  • If you are turned in, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs or your local municipality can shut down your renovation at any point until you obtain the required permits.

  • You may also have to redo part or all of the work already done to date if it was not done to your municipality's building code specifications.

  • If you work with a contractor and experience project delays or problems with the finished product, you will have little legal recourse without revealing the lack of required permits.

For these reasons and others, it is always best to go through the proper channels to get your building permit before starting a remodel project.

When You Need a Building Permit

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for Ontario, you are required to apply for a permit under these conditions:

  • If you plan to repair or renovate an existing structure.

  • If you plan to add to an existing structure to expand it.

  • If you plan to add a structure (such as a mobile home or a building).

  • If you plan to construct any new building that measures over 10 meters.

  • If you plan to excavate an existing foundation or build a new foundation.

  • If you plan to build a seasonal structure.

  • If you plan to alter, repair, extend or install a sewage system on your property.

If you are ever uncertain whether a proposed repair or remodel project requires a building project, it is always a good idea to ask your municipality.

How to Apply for a Building Permit

In most cases, you can have your permit in-hand in a relatively short amount of time. The average is 10 to 30 days after you submit your application, depending on the type and complexity of your project.

This is the basic process for applying for a building permit:

  • Request a permit application with the appropriate municipal office.

  • Fill out the application completely and add in all requested documentation.

  • Have your building plans reviewed and approved by an entity with a BCIN (Building Code Identification Number) such as Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric.

  • Pay the filing fee at the time you submit your application.

  • Wait for your application to be reviewed.

  • Receive an approval.

  • Post your building permit approval notice in a window or other area of high visibility on your property and make sure to keep a copy of your plans on the premises.

  • Work with building inspectors at each major phase of your project to ensure compliance with your municipality's building code and your building plans.

  • Complete construction.

While this process probably sounds simple enough, there is one possible hitch that may arise. If you submit your initial building plans for permitting and your application is denied, you will have to decide whether to proceed forward and file an appeal.

The most common reasons why a permit application may be denied include these:

  • Your building plans are not complete at the time of submission (for instance, if you plan to demolish part or all of a structure and then remodel or construct a new one, which may require two separate permit applications).

  • The plans were not reviewed and approved by an entity with a BCIN license.

  • The plans contravene your municipality's building code or property use code in some way.

  • If you wish to change the use of your property in a way that is outside current zoning standards in your municipality.

If you decide to appeal, get an attorney familiar with building permit issues involved.

Your Building Permit Is Approved—Now What?

Once your building permit is approved and issued, you are free to begin construction according to the construction timeline you submitted during the application process.

If you alter any part of your building plans during the construction phase, you must first notify the municipality that issued your building permit before proceeding.

As you complete each phase, you must also notify the permitting municipality to send out a building permit inspector to review work-to-date. Once you notify the municipality, the inspector has five days to do the inspection. During this time, you may not do any further work on your project.

Give Us a Call for Help With Building Permits

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, we are very familiar with the intricacies of building permits, municipal codes, technical requirements, and zoning rules and regulations. We hold a BCIN (Building Code Identification Number), which means we are licensed to review and approve your building plans.

If you are planning a building project, we can help streamline the process for you. Give us a call at 705-687-3402 or 877-885-3403 (Canada only).

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Seeking to Lower Your Stress Levels? We Can Help With That!

relaxed at home

Owning a home can be one of the greatest joys in life. It can also be one of the most stressful experiences.

In addition to the stresses every homeowner has in common (property taxes, household pests, utility bills), there can be home-specific stressors. These are usually related to the age and state of large appliances that you inherited from the previous homeowner when you bought your home.

When these major appliances begin to deliver less-reliable performance, life can get stressful pretty quick. It is cold outside but you're never sure whether you will have adequate heating. Then it gets hot outside, but it feels hot inside as well.

Or there is that one fateful morning when you wake up in eager anticipation of a hot shower, only to be surprised with a cold shower instead. Stress! Your aging appliances are letting you down left and right!

We can help you with this. Our comfort and heating maintenance plans can spot small issues before they turn into big issues that are capable of ruining your day, your week, or (worst of all) your bank account. Read on to learn what we can offer to help save you time, money, and stress.

Do You Own These Major Appliances?

The typical homeowner will own at least one major appliance from each of these categories below. Each appliance represents a significant investment, and many are needed year-round.

As you look over this list, you’ll get why it can feel so stressful sometimes to be responsible for maintaining an entire home full of appliances and gadgets, Just one glitch or unexpected outage can eat up an entire day of your time—or longer!


  • Gas furnace

  • Oil furnace

  • Electric furnace

  • Air source heat pump

  • Geothermal heat pump

  • Heating boiler

  • Fireplace

  • Electrical floor warmer


  • HVAC system

  • Air conditioning system (mini-split, ductless, or window)

  • Heat recovery ventilator


  • Hot water heater

  • Tankless hot water heater

  • Sump pump

  • Sewage pump

  • Toilet (Entrada, UltraMax II TOTO, Maxwell, Ascent II)

  • Drain water heat recovery

  • TrojanMax ultraviolet water purification system

Emergency Power

  • Air-cooled Muskoka standby generator.

How Gravenhurst Plumbing Can Help Lower Your Stress

In our more than seven decades serving clients in the Hamilton and surrounding areas, we have observed that most homeowner stress tends to fall into these three categories:

  • Time. Every time anything goes wrong, or any time you even suspect something may be going wrong, you have to drop what you are doing to investigate and maybe even attempt minor repairs. That can add up to a lot of time spent on house maintenance pretty quickly!

  • Money. When something does go wrong with any aspect of your home, it is nearly guaranteed to hit you in the wallet. Even the most careful budgeting can't always control for the costly surprises your home may yet have in store for you.

  • Making choices. If you find you need to make a major repair or replace something, then you are confronted with a list of choices. Should you choose this or that contractor? This or that appliance? This or that material? The sheer number of choices you have to wade through can cause tremendous stress.

We can help you in all three areas through one of our two convenient maintenance plans. By delegating the tasks of inspecting and maintaining your home’s major heating and cooling appliances to us, you get rid of that headache once and for all!

Two Simple and Convenient Maintenance Plans to Choose From

So here, you do have a choice to make. You can select our heating protection maintenance plan or our total comfort maintenance plan.

Heating Protection Plan

This one-year renewable heating-only service and maintenance plan gives you lots of perks while saving you money on your annual inspection and heating maintenance costs.

Here are the highlights:

  • You are in the priority queue for any emergency heating-related service.

  • All labour and parts come with an automatic 30-day warranty.

  • There are NO surprise costs—we will always ask you before performing any repairs outside the scope of the protection plan.

  • There are NO overtime or service call charges for maintenance performed under this plan.

  • If you include two or more appliances under the plan, you score a 10 percent discount.

  • If you opt for the 5-year plan, you score a 20 percent discount.

  • We provide you with timely guidance to save on energy and utilities costs.

To learn more and opt in: Gravenhurst Heating Protection Plan.

Comfort Maintenance Plan

This one-year renewable heating and cooling maintenance plan ensures your HVAC and heating equipment will be inspected, thoroughly cleaned, and well maintained.

It also comes with the following special perks (as applicable to covered equipment):

  • Preventative maintenance kit with oil included with generator maintenance.

  • Nozzle and filter included with oil furnace maintenance.

  • Discounted prices on all parts.

  • You receive a 10 percent discount for two or more covered appliances.

  • You receive a 20 percent discount for choosing the 5-year plan.

To learn more and opt in: Gravenhurst Comfort Maintenance Plan.

Give Us a Call!

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, our primary goal is to provide you with ample time and cost savings, and total peace of mind regarding your heating, cooling, plumbing, and emergency power needs. Give us a call at 877-885-3403 or complete our handy online form to make your inquiry.

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Talking Toilets: How to Choose a New Toilet for Your Home

plumbing toilet

A toilet is something most people take for granted. The topic of toilets generally doesn't come up in casual conversation—unless the household toilet stops working.

When this occurs, suddenly the lowly toilet finds itself in the center of the spotlight at last. At this point, the questions usually revolve around how to fix it, why it still isn't working, and finally, which toilet to replace it with.

If you haven't had to replace a toilet in a long time or ever, there is a good chance you will be surprised by all of your choices. Today there is a toilet for nearly every shape and size of space. There are toilets with low-flow water-saving features. There are toilets in custom colors and styles. And there are toilets at widely varying price points.

This guide will help you sort through your options and pick the right new toilet for your needs.

Common Toilet Purchase Mistakes

Today's culture is all about choices. We have so many choices that sometimes it can feel like we have too many choices for our own good. This is never more true than when it comes to shopping for a new toilet.

The reason for this is simple: nothing is simply "standard" anymore. When you go to pick out a new toilet, you are suddenly faced with a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, heights, colors, configurations and extra features.

But when it comes to selecting home staples like the family toilet, choosing a non-conventional model can end up becoming a costly mistake when your toilet needs repairs or you decide to sell your house.

Here are some of the most common toilet purchase mistakes consumers make today:

1. Making your choice all about the cheapest price

If you can get a great deal, why not go for it? But if you are selecting a toilet based simply on the lowest price and nothing else, you risk getting what you pay for, which can be much more costly in terms of more frequent maintenance and repairs.

2. Purchasing a colorful (non-white) toilet

If you are old enough to remember the seafoam green craze of the 1970s, you already know why basic white is always the wisest choice for a toilet color. Coloured toilets, while making a comeback in some midcentury modern homes, are often dealbreakers for people because they look outdated or like a fad they’ll have to change not long after.

3. Choosing an elongated toilet bowl

While there can be an argument for some that the newer elongated toilet bowls are comfier, the common mistake here is not measuring nearby cabinet drawers, bathroom doors, shower doors, and other permanent fixtures that could become non-functional with an elongated toilet bowl blocking their way.

4. Not checking how the lid closes

Talk about things that go "bump" in the night—you definitely don't want one of them to be your toilet lid slamming shut after each midnight bathroom trip!

5. Not listening to the flusher first

Unless you enjoy the soothing sounds of aircraft taking off at close range, you will want to do a test flush before you make your final selection. Certain high-pressure models are so intent on delivering top-notch, no-clog flushing action they should be issued with earplugs for the user or heart attack meds.

6. Selecting a non-standard shape or sized toilet

While a square, rectangular, or oblong toilet bowl can be super-snazzy looking, it may also end up being difficult or costly to repair, since none of the more common parts will fit.

7. Customizing the toilet seat

So long as you will be using the toilet yourself, there is nothing wrong with customizing the toilet seat. But you don't want to buy a toilet that comes with an unusual toilet seat design, pattern, or color. Buy that feature after-market so you can put the standard toilet seat back on when you get ready to sell the house.

8. Assuming labels like "comfort seat” apply equally to all users

Toilets, like most standard household fixtures, are typically designed to be comfortable to users that fall within the standard height and weight measurements. For example, in Canada, the average male adult is 175.1 cm (5 ft. 9 in.) and the average female adult is 162.3 cm (5 ft. 4 in.). So for users who are shorter or taller than this range, a "comfort seat” might not be very comfortable at all.

9. Picking a complex toilet and bowl design

The more complex the toilet bowl and design, the more difficult it will be to clean and the more time it will take.

10. Buying a toilet with a non-insulated tank that sweats

If the toilet you select has a tank that isn't insulated, it will sweat. Not only will this increase dampness in your bathroom, which can then encourage mould and mildew to grow, but it will also look unattractive.

Two Toilet Options We Think You Will Love

Out of all the toilet brands we could have chosen to recommend, we chose these two for the reasons listed below (as well as for how they address all the mistakes above). We think you will love them both!

Entrada Toilets

The design of Entrada toilets is simple and seamless. Our customers tell us these toilets are very easy to clean. The seats are equipped with SoftClose or Washlet technology—no bumps in the night here!

UltraMax II TOTO Toilets

UltraMax II TOTO toilets are simple and elegant and include the option of an in-wall tank, reducing your cleaning chores even further. If you've ever wished you could get your bathroom space back, now you can!

Give Us a Call

We at Gravenhurst Plumbing have been in the business for 72 wonderful years. If you need help selecting and installing a new toilet for your home or workplace, give us a call!

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Opening Your Cottage for the First Time? We Can Help With That!

opening cottage mist

While your thermometer may not reflect this just yet, we are finally closing in on the end of another long, cold, snowy, rainy winter season.

It feels good to think about spring's imminent arrival!

As Ontario's urban areas become increasingly congested, more Canadians are turning their eyes toward an investment in seasonal housing.

According to Canadian Real Estate magazine, a full three-quarters of seasonal homeowners are buying a cottage for now and later. Now, they want to enjoy cottage life with their kids. Later, they want to enjoy cottage life during their retirement years.

In this post, we share our favorite spring cottage-opening tips for first-timers and seasoned cottage owners alike. If you need assistance with getting your cottage in ship-shape condition for spring's arrival, give us a ring: we're happy to help!

First Things First: Retracing Your Steps

If you are an established cottage owner, you have likely developed a regular routine regarding cottage closings and openings. But if you are new, this may be your very first cottage opening—exciting!

The first and most important step is to remember what you did and didn't do when you closed down your cottage for the winter season.

For example, some cottage owners will turn off the main power source, while others will leave that on to power outside lighting and security and just turn off individual elements instead.

For help jogging your memory, we've created a handy Cottage Closing Checklist you can refer to and use to make notes about what to do when you arrive to re-open your cottage.

What to Do Before You Head for Your Cottage

If you chose to disconnect any of your regular services for the winter season, you will want to call your providers to have these services reconnected before you arrive to re-open your cottage:

  • Electricity

  • Propane

  • Water

  • Phone/internet/television

You will also probably want to assemble some tools and supplies for the re-opening (if you don't already have these at the cottage):

  • Copies of your insurance documents and claim phone numbers (just in case)

  • A ladder and tarp

  • Basic tools (hammer, wrench, screwdrivers, etc.)

  • Broom, dustpan, cleaning supplies, and paper towels

  • Batteries (to change out the smoke alarm and other devices)

  • Air filters as needed

  • Snacks for the road and when you arrive

  • The cottage keys!

The Cottage Pre-Opening Walk-About

When you arrive to re-open your cottage, first do an exterior walk-about, paying special attention to any of these (or similar) issues:

  • Fallen tree limbs and debris

  • Hanging power lines or phone lines

  • Cracked windows or missing/torn screens

  • Loose roof shingles or siding

  • Visible holes in roofing or elsewhere

  • Loose boards in the porch or deck

  • Areas of soggy ground or standing water

  • Evidence of wildlife, rodents, or insect pests

  • Missing components to secure your dock

  • Any strange or unpleasant odour

Now you can do the interior walk-about, paying special attention to any of these (or similar) issues:

  • Damp or discolored patches on the ceiling

  • Soggy areas of carpet or pooled water on flooring

  • Evidence of wildlife, rodents, or insect pests

  • Any strange or unpleasant odour

Make notes about anything you will need to return to fix or investigate further later.

Restoring Your Water Supply

Even experienced cottage owners sometimes find it challenging to go through the steps of reconnecting the water pipes, cleaning, and then priming (filling) the water pump, replacing the filter, filling up the hot water tank (as applicable), and restoring water to the cottage.

This is one of the hardest tasks for cottage owners, especially if you have to haul the water to prime the pump by hand. And doing a visual inspection of your water lines, pump, and whole system can be confusing if you're not sure what warning signs to look for!

Another common issue is water pipes that leak or have frozen and cracked/burst during the winter.

Sometimes watching a professional go through the steps of restoring water to your cabin is just what you need to learn how to do this yourself in future years.

As well, if you have noticed signs that there may be a water leak or a pipe has burst, this is a good time to call in the pros.

We are happy to help with restoring water to your cottage and handling well and septic system inspection and cleaning chores.

NOTE: We always recommend that you consider having your well and septic cleaned at the start of the new spring/summer season, for your own safety.

Restoring Power to Your Cottage

Before you restore power to your cottage, first take a look at the central electrical panel and tighten all the fuses. If you see any tripped breakers (in the case that you left the central power on), restore those as well.

Take a look at any exterior and interior power cables or connections to be sure nothing has been damaged.

Uncover the chimney and open the flue, then inspect for any signs of wildlife if you plan to use the fireplace.

If all looks operational, restore power to the central electrical panel, and then power up each individual appliance and test that everything is working as it should.

Here, please do not attempt DIY electrical repairs, for your own safety!

Contact Gravenhurst Plumbing

Give us a call at 705-687-3402 or fill out our online form to schedule your service appointment. We are happy to do a full inspection and perform any maintenance or repairs you need to be sure you can re-open your cottage safely. We look forward to hearing from you!

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