By now, you’ve probably tried baking bread, recorded a TikTok video, binge-watched a series on Netflix, or applied the KonMari method to declutter you space. The lockdown has truly encouraged most of us to learn something new and be more productive.
For condo dwellers, there’s more. You have quiet yet helpful equipment sitting at home that you might want to get more acquainted with for practical reasons and, well, because you need to keep yourself occupied. Plus, these things break down eventually, so knowing a thing or two about them will help you articulate what needs to be done should problems arise.
Ready? This can be a little intimidating at first, but trust us, knowledge is power.
The panel board/breaker box
In most condos, the panel board is usually situated in the kitchen or utility area – a built-in box that contains what looks like a complex board of thingamajigs. It’s also called an electric panel or a breaker box, essentially because it serves as your home’s electrical service panel. The breaker box, says The Spruce, receives incoming power from the electrical utility and safely distributes it to all your various circuits around the home.”
Among all the switches that you see on the panel board, there is a main breaker. This is usually located separately from the other circuit switches, or appears different from them. If you switch this off, it disconnects power to the entire circuit breaker and shuts off power to the entire home.
So why should you care about it? In case of repeated trips in your electrical appliances, you can turn off the main breaker and call your building engineer for help. This is a sign of something more serious. When there is a blackout, you need to turn to your panel board and turn on the switch for the backup or generator power.
For more breaker box basics, watch more from The Spruce here.
The water heater
If your water heater is working well right now, that’s all good. When it stops working or you’ve done a few resets but it seems to be shutting off on its own, it may be time to replace it. Consult with your condo’s property management or engineering team.
When you shop around for a new one, the important thing to remember is there are certain brands that get affected by high or low water pressure in the building. So do check with your building plumber or engineer on this before buying.
The grease trap
Most condos are equipped with grease traps – that large metallic box under the sink that intercepts oil and solids before these go into the main wastewater disposal system. You may not be fully aware, but the grease, food particles, and other waste from your dishes and cookware can solidify and block drain pipes. Give your trusty grease trap a virtual high five for doing a great job, and remember to clean it more often so it will keep running well.
Cleaning a grease trap is probably one of the hardest parts of condo DIYs. If you haven’t cleaned yours for months and you’ve been doing some heavy cooking during the ECQ, you can bet that your grease trap is now full and screaming for some TLC.
Don’t fret – you can usually ask your property management office to send someone to do this for you for a fee (because imagine removing all that smelly gunk!). This process usually takes a while so allot at least half a day for it. Cleaning involves removing the grease trap cover, manually scooping out all the grease and food waste into a large jar or a thick plastic container, removing the filter/s and scrubbing them clean, and letting running water wash the grease trap until the water becomes clear. Only then can you put back all the filter and close the contraption shut.
If you need more information, check with your condo’s property management or resident plumber. They know the type of grease traps installed in your kitchen and how best to maintain them.
Wasn’t that all interesting to know? Just remember, if you’re going to seek for help from the condo staff, make sure to still observe social distancing and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your panel board, water heater, and grease trap can make or break the quality of the time you spend at home so be sure to keep the basics in mind.