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Reasonable time to fix heater in winter?

By Someonesmother - 19 July 2013 17

My heater has been broken for 2 weeks and while the ‘man’ came and looked at it within a few days the ‘waiting for the part’ buisness is now stretching into weeks instead of days. 

The real estate will not return calls and now has been exceptionally rude when told it is now also becoming a health issue and asked will we be financially compensated for the use of tiny blow heaters sucking up half of Canberra’s winter electricity usage.

To complicate this situation I have an autoimmune disease that necessitates staying warm and heating a double brick 4 beddie house is hard, I’m actually enjoying being at work!

Is it unreasonbable to think that in winter in Canberra while paying Canberra rental rates that there might be a better response than we can’t do anything?

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Reasonable time to fix heater in winter?
JC 5:03 pm 20 Jul 13

Madam Cholet said :

Every home is completely different. For all we know you live in a super insulated energy efficient home, where as someone else may live in a home that is insulated no better than a tent. Both will have different heating needs.

I agree but still see no need to heat overnight. I hail from the UK and spent 20 years or so living with my parents, who, guess what, did not heat the house overnight….even in the depths of winter. The heating would come on at 6am or so and go on and off during the day. I have also lived in an ice box when I first came to Canberra and still did not heat it overnight. It’s a shocking waste of energy and money. The average human can deal with a bit of cold. Obviously the OP has a condition that requires her to have more heating than anyone else, but I think generally we have all been super conditioned to think we need more heating and cooling than we actually do.

Again horses for courses. I too have lived in the UK, in a flat in a two story Victorian conversion in Bayswater. Like you I didn’t heat the house overnight, however the reason was it was a double brick so when the heater was on it absorbed the heat that it then slowly let out at night.

Here in Canberra though I live in a house with an EER of 4, but still get cold at night even with blankets. I leave the heater on, but only at about 12′. Only on the real cold nights does it kick in early in the morning.

Where I lived when I grew up which was in a govie house we had blankets and the heater more or less had to run all night. There was no insulation what so ever, and even with blankets it was very cold on the face.

thatsnotme 2:56 pm 20 Jul 13

Madam Cholet said :

JC said :

Madam Cholet said :

I don’t understand why people have to have heating on at night. We have a five year old and I can’t say that we heated anything at night after he was still a small baby. Fair enough heat the room for going to bed if it is a bit of an ice box, and time them so that they come on before they wake up, but not all through the night. Enough blankets will do the trick. Kids sleep much better when they are the right temperature. My son seems to be his own central heater.

Every home is completely different. For all we know you live in a super insulated energy efficient home, where as someone else may live in a home that is insulated no better than a tent. Both will have different heating needs.

I agree but still see no need to heat overnight. I hail from the UK and spent 20 years or so living with my parents, who, guess what, did not heat the house overnight….even in the depths of winter. The heating would come on at 6am or so and go on and off during the day. I have also lived in an ice box when I first came to Canberra and still did not heat it overnight. It’s a shocking waste of energy and money. The average human can deal with a bit of cold. Obviously the OP has a condition that requires her to have more heating than anyone else, but I think generally we have all been super conditioned to think we need more heating and cooling than we actually do.

In my situation, last winter (which was a pretty cold one) my wife was still breast feeding our youngest, in the baby’s room – so it was more comfortable for everyone involved if the room wasn’t an ice box!

Since then, we’ve had the ceiling insulation completely replaced, as what was there was thin, old, the wrong width batts and poorly laid…basically, we effectively had none. We’ve bought a new doona for our four year old. Our almost two year old gets rugged up in warm PJ’s and a decent sleeping bag and doona. We’re not heating their rooms this year, aside from if it gets really cold inside when the gas will kick in – but that’s pretty rare, especially this mild winter.

The point was though that we thought that by using oil column heaters, we’d be using an efficient, cheap form of heating for a small space. We didn’t have them pumping all night either – their thermostat was set to a pretty mild temperature, with the timer set so they’d only come on between midnight and 6am. We weren’t trying to keep the rooms toasty warm at all, just to take the chill off them. That strategy backfired spectacularly on us though – even with that limited use, our winter electricity bill went from around $350 for the quarter, to around $750.

I just think there’s a perception that oil column heaters are somehow more efficient. My experience says the exact opposite!

Madam Cholet 12:37 pm 20 Jul 13

JC said :

Madam Cholet said :

I don’t understand why people have to have heating on at night. We have a five year old and I can’t say that we heated anything at night after he was still a small baby. Fair enough heat the room for going to bed if it is a bit of an ice box, and time them so that they come on before they wake up, but not all through the night. Enough blankets will do the trick. Kids sleep much better when they are the right temperature. My son seems to be his own central heater.

Every home is completely different. For all we know you live in a super insulated energy efficient home, where as someone else may live in a home that is insulated no better than a tent. Both will have different heating needs.

I agree but still see no need to heat overnight. I hail from the UK and spent 20 years or so living with my parents, who, guess what, did not heat the house overnight….even in the depths of winter. The heating would come on at 6am or so and go on and off during the day. I have also lived in an ice box when I first came to Canberra and still did not heat it overnight. It’s a shocking waste of energy and money. The average human can deal with a bit of cold. Obviously the OP has a condition that requires her to have more heating than anyone else, but I think generally we have all been super conditioned to think we need more heating and cooling than we actually do.

JC 8:46 am 20 Jul 13

Madam Cholet said :

I don’t understand why people have to have heating on at night. We have a five year old and I can’t say that we heated anything at night after he was still a small baby. Fair enough heat the room for going to bed if it is a bit of an ice box, and time them so that they come on before they wake up, but not all through the night. Enough blankets will do the trick. Kids sleep much better when they are the right temperature. My son seems to be his own central heater.

Every home is completely different. For all we know you live in a super insulated energy efficient home, where as someone else may live in a home that is insulated no better than a tent. Both will have different heating needs.

Madam Cholet 8:22 am 20 Jul 13

thatsnotme said :

scentednightgardens said :

I would recommend that you invest in a few small column heaters if the power consumption is an issue. Costco have them for 25-odd dollars. Those blow heaters also create cold drafts which probably contribute to the health issue. Things do break down and parts can be a hassle to get especially in winter when demand is high. Whether you are a renter or owner having a back up for failed services makes sense.

Oh god no, please don’t! Those things absolutely chew through electricity – and I’ve got the bill to prove it… Last winter, with a 9-month old and 3 year old in our house, instead of running gas heating to keep their rooms warm we had a column heater set to low in their rooms, set to come on late at night. Our winter electricity bill more than doubled – I couldn’t believe it when I got the bill, I thought something must have been wrong with it.

So I did an experiment, timing how long it took for the large disc in the electricity meter to spin without the heaters on, compared to when they were on. I can tell you, that disc was flying around when those heaters were switched on, they were sucking power down.

They’re in the shed now, likely never to be turned on again. I think it’d be cheaper to just set the overnight temp on the gas a degree or two higher for the whole house, than just trying to heat the kids rooms.

I don’t understand why people have to have heating on at night. We have a five year old and I can’t say that we heated anything at night after he was still a small baby. Fair enough heat the room for going to bed if it is a bit of an ice box, and time them so that they come on before they wake up, but not all through the night. Enough blankets will do the trick. Kids sleep much better when they are the right temperature. My son seems to be his own central heater.

thatsnotme 9:34 pm 19 Jul 13

scentednightgardens said :

I would recommend that you invest in a few small column heaters if the power consumption is an issue. Costco have them for 25-odd dollars. Those blow heaters also create cold drafts which probably contribute to the health issue. Things do break down and parts can be a hassle to get especially in winter when demand is high. Whether you are a renter or owner having a back up for failed services makes sense.

Oh god no, please don’t! Those things absolutely chew through electricity – and I’ve got the bill to prove it… Last winter, with a 9-month old and 3 year old in our house, instead of running gas heating to keep their rooms warm we had a column heater set to low in their rooms, set to come on late at night. Our winter electricity bill more than doubled – I couldn’t believe it when I got the bill, I thought something must have been wrong with it.

So I did an experiment, timing how long it took for the large disc in the electricity meter to spin without the heaters on, compared to when they were on. I can tell you, that disc was flying around when those heaters were switched on, they were sucking power down.

They’re in the shed now, likely never to be turned on again. I think it’d be cheaper to just set the overnight temp on the gas a degree or two higher for the whole house, than just trying to heat the kids rooms.

JC 9:28 pm 19 Jul 13

urchin said :

Regardless of the reasons for the delay the renter is entitled to compensation. When paying rent, a functioning heater is included as part of that rent. If that heater is not functioning, the tenant is entitled to have that portion of the rent returned to him/her. It sounds like the agent is not being terribly considerate of the tenants situation and is not making any attempt to alleviate their discomfort or even to provide good communication.

Not going to disagree, but that is a separate issue as to what is a reasonable time to get something fixed. By the sounds of it the owner got someone out quick, it needs parts, so that is entirely reasonable.

As to what is reasonable compensation, as mentioned different story.

nyssa1976 9:23 pm 19 Jul 13

A broken heater constitutes as an emergency. Call the Tenants Union. File a NOTICE TO REMEDY immediately to cover your butt. They have to respond or you can take them to ACAT and possibly break your lease with ACAT’s consent.

Last winter our heater broke. It ended up being -6.7 and all that fun stuff. SEVEN weeks later it was replaced. The owner took 5 weeks to decide on the cheapest (his words) heater and took up the first quote (which could have been done within 3 weeks of the heating going out). The property manager didn’t give two s***s about asthmatics being in the house and tried to get personal during a meeting to discuss the heating. Finally, when inspected, the heater showed signs of nearly burning the house down, including the lovely smell of burning plastic, AND was running 24/7 so our bill went through the roof!

We were offered, begrudgingly, $350 in compensation for having little to no heating in a house with no insulation and cathedral ceilings (property manager’s words). If I had the money, I would have moved.

BimboGeek 8:38 pm 19 Jul 13

I guess it depends on what the part is. If it’s an old heater and needs a rare part it might need to be ordered in from overseas, maybe even from some manufacturer that specialises in making rare parts for machines that are no longer supported by their original manufacturer. Same thing just happened to boyfriend’s imported car, parts are on their way from Germany because it’s an unusual thing that went wrong and not a very common model.

But yeah, if you’re sick then I agree with scentednightgardens that you can’t get enough backup options for whatever keeps you well. Hope you feel better soon. 🙂

Plus of course what everyone else said about calling the union for help and fighting for refunds or credit on your rent. There might not be much anyone can do about fixing it sooner but if you’re sick it seems only fair to get you priority.

Mr Gillespie 7:31 pm 19 Jul 13

This “winter” is a JOKE, who needs heaters when you’ve got record-breaking high temperatures to keep you warm

urchin 6:58 pm 19 Jul 13

JC said :

It is a difficult one, because in winter lots of heaters break and the delay to get someone to fix them can be weeks. In the 13 years I have owned my house the heater has broken two, first time it took 2 weeks (as a warranty call) and the 2nd time a few years later 3 weeks.

The fact the house is a rental doesn’t mean that they can somehow jump the queue and I am not 100% sure what an owner is meant to be any more reasonable in that situation.

If it were your own house and you couldn’t get someone in to fix it what would you do? What ever this answer is may be the answer to your question.

Regardless of the reasons for the delay the renter is entitled to compensation. When paying rent, a functioning heater is included as part of that rent. If that heater is not functioning, the tenant is entitled to have that portion of the rent returned to him/her. It sounds like the agent is not being terribly considerate of the tenants situation and is not making any attempt to alleviate their discomfort or even to provide good communication.

If I were the owner I would buy and deliver a few portable oil heaters and offer a reasonable discount on the rent until the problem is resolved. At least then the tenant would know that the owner is doing what s/he can to minimise inconvenience and discomfort.

I wonder if the agency isn’t badenoch. They seem to have a terrible reputation for their treatment or renters.

scentednightgardens 6:00 pm 19 Jul 13

I would recommend that you invest in a few small column heaters if the power consumption is an issue. Costco have them for 25-odd dollars. Those blow heaters also create cold drafts which probably contribute to the health issue. Things do break down and parts can be a hassle to get especially in winter when demand is high. Whether you are a renter or owner having a back up for failed services makes sense.

JC 5:54 pm 19 Jul 13

It is a difficult one, because in winter lots of heaters break and the delay to get someone to fix them can be weeks. In the 13 years I have owned my house the heater has broken two, first time it took 2 weeks (as a warranty call) and the 2nd time a few years later 3 weeks.

The fact the house is a rental doesn’t mean that they can somehow jump the queue and I am not 100% sure what an owner is meant to be any more reasonable in that situation.

If it were your own house and you couldn’t get someone in to fix it what would you do? What ever this answer is may be the answer to your question.

urchin 5:38 pm 19 Jul 13

broken heater in the winter might qualify as an “emergency” in which case you can go out and make your own arrangements and have it billed directly to the owner so long as it does not exceed 5% of total annual rent (or something like that). I guess talking to the tenancy union first and then warning the landlord that, if it isn’t fixed you will go out and get it fixed and have the bill sent directly to them would be one approach. i would also certainly demand a reduction on your rent to compensate you for it.

however don’t simply stop paying rent or unilaterally reduce the amount of rent you pay as that will only damage your case.

but yeah, don’t take it lying down. lord knows we pay enough for rent in this town, it is certainly within your rights to expect a working heater in the middle of winter.

birder 5:15 pm 19 Jul 13

Call the Tenancy Union immediately! http://www.tenantsact.org.au/

You have to call and leave a message, and they only take so many messages a day, so you should call by 9 or 9:30 am. They will call you back that afternoon or the next day.

They are amazing and they will quote you chapter and verse of the regulations, which you can use to make demands of your rental agent.

I’m 90% sure that they will tell you that you ARE due back a portion of your rent. We called recently because our fireplace is not working. The rental agent tried to say it was our problem. We called the Tenancy Union and they said, No, it is a maintenance issue and actually the landlord owed us money for not fixing it sooner. We are not going to pursue the money becaue it’s not going to be enough to be worth the hassle, but they completely backed down once we mentioned that we had consulted with the Tenancy Union.

Please post back with your experience. And yes, if you rented a place with a working heater, you have a right to expect a working heater – PERIOD.

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