Garbage, plumbing and other household concerns

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Living in a new country brings many changes to day-to-day living. Minor things like garbage management, maintaining the lawn, or managing yard waste become major things when you are a newcomer and don’t know who to ask. Repairs around the house, like roof leaks, brownish water coming out of the faucets, and basement flooding are even more worrying as these can throw off your entire day if you do not know how to deal with them.

So to prevent panic attacks, here are some usual household concerns and how to manage them when you’re in Manitoba:

Garbage disposal

Every home should have a garbage cart (black) and a recycling cart (blue). Logically, you place your recyclables, such as paper and cardboard materials, plastic containers (not plastic bags), metal and glass, etc., into the blue cart, and your non-recyclable garbage into the black cart. Remember not to over-fill the carts. You have to be able to close their lids so that they will be picked-up. To know your weekly pick-up schedule, go to your city’s website (for Winnipeg: Garbage Cart Collection), and print out your calendar.

Did you know that you will need to place the carts in a certain way so that they can be picked up? The city uses automated and semi-automated garbage trucks that require the carts to be situated properly. You have to put the carts next to the street or lane with the wheels against the curb. Then, the arrow on the cart lid has to be pointed to the centre of the road or lane. Allow one arm’s length distance on each side of the cart so that there’s enough room for the collection arm of the automated truck to grab them. Remember to take your carts back onto your property after collection. To know more about Garbage and Recycling Services, read or download Your New Garbage and Recycling Services Guide (Winnipeg).

If you live in an apartment building or condominium, your landlord should be able to show you where to properly dispose of your garbage.These are usually large metal bins and recycling bins that are located outside of the units. Ask your landlord or the building supervisor for pick-up schedules and for any other rules they might have about this service.

Yard Waste

Grass clippings, tree trunks, and other plant materials are collected every two weeks on the same day your garbage and recycling carts are collected (check your schedule). You can use brown paper bags, cardboard boxes or recyclable garbage cans or trays to hold your yard waste.

To know how you can properly and efficiently dispose of your yard waste, here is a video from 4R Winnipeg (City of Winnipeg) about the residential leaf and yard waste collection program:

Plumbing problems

Have you ever opened your faucets to see discoloured water? Don’t worry, it’s a common occurrence in public water systems and it could be the result of routine operations. It is advisable that you refrain from using it for drinking or preparing food (because it does not look or smell pleasant) or for laundry (as it can stain clothes), but it is not a health risk. According to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, “it is very unlikely that drinking discoloured water would make you sick, even if it does not smell, taste or look pleasant. The City of Winnipeg does extensive water quality monitoring, and none of the information collected to date indicates there are any bacteria or viruses in the water that could result in illness. As well, drinking water with minerals such as iron and manganese over a short period of time at the levels found in the discoloured water to date is not known to pose a health risk.” (quoted from Winnipeg 311 site).

What the City recommends is to let the water run for a few minutes (you can collect this to water your plants) then check to see if it clears (using a clear glass or light-coloured cup). If it does not, turn off the tap and wait 30 minutes. If the water still isn’t clear after two to three hours, contact 311 (Winnipeg, available 24 hours a day by phone) or via email at 311@winnipeg.ca. To know more about discoloured water and what causes it, read this FAQ.

Always tune in to the news for advisories. The city provides timely announcements and instructions for major developments, like the “boil water advisory” in January 2015, which was a precautionary measure.

When there is severe weather, like heavy rains, it is possible that your basement could be flooded with the sewer backing up. You can call a plumber (use the yellowpages to look for one) for repair. To help you out, the city has a basement flooding protection subsidy program that you can avail if it was caused by severe weather. Read about sewer pipe responsibilities for property owners to know more.

Caring for your pets

The Responsible Pet Ownership law outlines several guidelines for owning and caring for pets. For instance, it is required that all cats, and dogs over the age of six months, to be licensed. You can acquire a licence online, phone, in-person, or by mail. You can refer to this page for more details on licensing.You can also download this pet care fact sheet which outlines instructions on how to take care of your pets in case of emergencies such as flooding.

If you lose your pet, you can call 311, the Humane Society, or the Animal Services Agency. You can also call these numbers to report animals wandering around your area that seem lost.

Safety and security

When danger is imminent, such as a fire, an intruder in the house, or if a family member needs immediate medical attention (see What to do in a health emergency), the number to call is 911. It is advisable to have a plan in place so that every family member knows what to do in case of emergencies. Make sure that there are smoke alarms in every room of your house and that they are working. Check them regularly (usually every 30 days) and replace their batteries as needed.

If you are in a dire situation involving electricity and natural gas in the home, call Manitoba Hydro at 204-480-5900. You can also call in to report power outages to this number.

Bedbugs and mosquitoes

When you move into a new home, you are sometimes welcomed by unwanted guests. Pests may have been previous occupants or may have traveled with you, hitching a free ride with your luggage. Also, be especially careful when buying second-hand furniture like beds, sofas, or chairs to furnish your home. Inspect them thoroughly before buying as they may inadvertently carry bedbugs and other pests. To prevent infestation, read these tips. Always be careful about using pesticides in the home as these chemicals may cause allergies, so always read the label instructions. To know more about pesticides, read “Are pesticides safe?” from Canada.ca.

In the summer (June, July and August), Winnipeg is notorious for its mosquito season. To prevent these nasty insects from invading your home, make sure that you don’t leave empty receptacles in your yard that hold water as these could become breeding places for mosquitoes. If you will be outside after sunset (the time when the mosquitoes are out) it is suggested that you wear light-colored, loose clothing that covers your arms, neck and legs. You can also apply insect repellent on your skin, but make sure that it is safe, especially for your kids. The City has a regular mosquito fogging schedule in the summer that eases this problem. To know the schedule this year, go to Winnipeg 311.

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