Supply delays mean longer waits for appliance, furnace repairs in Sudbury

Delays due to global supply chain disruptions have meant some Sudbury residents have gone without a working furnace during extreme cold temperatures.

Property manager Holly Coulas said she has had to wait weeks for repairs on equipment such as furnaces and washing machines because the necessary parts aren’t readily available.

Coulas is one of the owners of Rock Solid Property Management, which manages around 700 apartments in Greater Sudbury.

“Where prior we were waiting, maybe a couple of hours for the plumbers to go to the warehouse and grab the piece because it was in stock, now we’re waiting weeks, even months,” she said.

Coulas said one of her tenants lost their heat in a basement apartment because there was an issue with the building’s gas furnace.

What would have normally been a same-day repair was delayed because the necessary part was not in stock.

She said her supplier, Greater Sudbury Plumbing and Heating, provided that tenant with space heaters while they waited for the part.

“Some tenants are, you know, more frustrated than not, because if you’re used to having a certain appliance work and then it’s not and you’re continuously paying the same amount of rent, then that can add to some frustration,” Coulas said. 

“However, for the most part, clients are understanding because they’re seeing it’s kind of throughout the board.”

Anthony Davis is the president of Greater Sudbury Plumbing and Heating. (Supplied by Anthony Davis)

Anthony Davis, the president of Greater Sudbury Plumbing and Heating, said that for his business, the supply constraints are the their worst point since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“So one of my senior staff, I think he’s 35 years into the HVAC trade specifically, and this is all new to him,” he said.

Davis said he could previously get parts like furnace control boards or fixtures within a day, but it can now take weeks for the same orders to arrive.

“It’s a huge problem for every trade, not just plumbing and HVAC, but electrical fixtures,” he said. 

“It’s just leaving homeowners in situations where they’re left with no heat, or no running water, or without a working functioning toilet.”

Davis said he has had to adapt by ordering more parts than he would have in the past. Where he might have just ordered one particular part at a time, he might now order 10 and store the extra supplies on site.

Multiple bottlenecks

Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokesperson with the Retail Council of Canada, said there are now bottlenecks at every part of the global supply chain.

“Really, every node of the system right now is experiencing some type of challenge,” she said. 

“Whether it’s getting a box loaded onto a truck or a boat or rail, getting it onto the water or onto the road or getting it to the other end, getting it unloaded, whatever it might be, at every node of the supply chain there are bottlenecks.”

Wasylyshen said the Retail Council of Canada expects supply chain issues for smaller household items to continue into mid-2022.

For larger items, like household appliances and furniture, she said those challenges could continue into 2023.

“But you know what? It’s really hard to predict because we have not been in this situation before,” she said.