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    The Open Door Blog


Whether you own a new home or condo, are considering buying one, or just love to dream about it, the Open Door blog is here to share stories that can help you protect what is likely the biggest investment of your life.

The Open Door blog is published by Tarion, a non-profit corporation that administers Ontario’s New Home Warranty Plan and registers all new home builders in Ontario. Click here to learn more about us.


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Why your nose could cost you money
April 19, 2016
Why your nose could cost you money

Careful! Pouring essential oils down the drain can lead to some very expensive plumbing repair bills.

To many, there is something luxurious and alluring about the smell of fresh lavender. Or perhaps jasmine is your preference?

With so much emphasis these days on staging a home for resale, Joe and Linda (not their real names) thought adding an appealing scent to their home would help land a high bid more quickly. They opted to add some fragrant essential oils to their bathroom during their open house. Little did they know that their sweet-smelling decision would lead to a huge $40,000 repair bill – and the loss of a sale.

Their mistake? Pouring the essential oil down the drain when they were finished with it.

The couple that purchased Joe and Linda’s home soon noticed that there was something wrong with the home’s plumbing. All it took was for the home inspector, who accompanied the couple through their pre-closing walk-through inspection, to touch the waste pipe. When he did, he discovered the sanitary drains, normally rigid black plastic, were soft and crumbly.

The house was, quite literally, uninhabitable and the new homeowners immediately delayed their closing date until the issue was resolved. Since the house was only two years old, the new owners first reached out to the builder before contacting Tarion for help.

plumbing pipe
We found that the plastic ABS waste lines were deteriorating – not a feature one wants in a waste drain
One of our Warranty Representatives visited the home and investigated the claim. Sure enough, we found that the plastic ABS waste lines were deteriorating – not a feature one wants in a waste drain. What was quite curious is that the problem was isolated to the piping connected to the drain of the ensuite bathtub and the main drain leading out to the municipal system.

We agreed the damaged waste pipes needed to be replaced, which would require extensive demolition and repair and a hefty price tag of $40,000. The question, then, was what was the cause of this damage? Under the warranty any defects in workmanship or materials should be covered by the builder. But damage caused by the homeowner is not covered under the warranty. So who should pay – the builder, the new homeowners or the original homeowners?

To land on the answer, Tarion initiated a thorough investigation to uncover the root of the problem.

We began by looking at the materials – were the pipes, or perhaps the glue or cement holding them together, defective? Material defects are covered under the warranty, but if this was the case, similar problems would have been found in the home’s other pipelines since they all came from the same supplier.

Then, the plumber helping Tarion with the investigation noticed a sweet, fragrant smell coming out of the problem pipes. Perhaps it was a cleaning product? But research into the cleaning products used by Joe and Linda found that none of them, by themselves or together, would cause such damage to pipes.

On a hunch, the plumber decided to test essential oil-based fragrances and air fresheners. He bought several brands and noticed that the majority of them had warning labels advising users not to pour the oils onto any kind of plastic or glass. Next, the plumber applied a small amount of essential oil, mixed with water, onto the ABS pipe.

Bingo! The pipe reacted to the essential oils and began to soften.

Now that we knew the cause of the damage, it was time to figure out how the oil got into the pipes. So, our Representative began looking through the home’s MLS listing photographs and found a photo that clearly showed a small jar of essential oils with wood reeds sitting by the ensuite bathtub.


When Joe and Linda were asked about the oil, they admitted that before handing the house over to the new owners, they had poured a small jar of the oil down the ensuite bathtub drain.
Stream of water pours into the sink in bathroom
When Joe and Linda were asked about the oil, they admitted that before handing the house over to the new owners, they had poured a small jar of the oil down the ensuite bathtub drain. With the honest admission, Tarion confirmed that Joe and Linda were responsible for the damage and repair of the pipes.

Since the problem with the pipes was discovered ahead of closing, the new homeowners decided it was best to back out of the deal. All Joe and Linda could do was replace the affected pipelines at their own expense before putting the house up for sale again.

Lessons Learned

  1. Carefully read – and follow – all warning labels before placing any foreign materials down the drain.
  2. You are responsible for properly maintaining your new home. Take the time to learn about your home’s various parts and how to properly care for them.
  3. The new home warranty covers defects in work or material, it does not cover deficiencies that result from improper use or maintenance.
  4. A house inspection ahead of closing – even on newer homes – is an important step in identifying issues with your home.

Do you have a story?

Did you experience an issue with your builder that Tarion helped resolve? If so, share it with us, so other homeowners have the information they need to protect their rights.

The goal of this blog is to provide you with general information about the warranty process by sharing real experiences from new homeowners. The blog should not be relied upon as legal advice. For privacy reasons, we will not address or resolve current cases in a public forum, so any comments or questions that are posted on this site that describe individual cases cannot be discussed. If you have a question about your warranty or Tarion generally, we would be pleased to discuss your issue, in the context of your particular circumstances and in confidence. We exercise reasonable care to avoid offensive, illegal or defamatory content from being posted, as well as comments that are intended solely for self-promotion or considered to be spam.