Top 9 FAQs

Question 1. Is there a specific date each spring and fall by which legally the corporation must turn on/off the heating/air conditioning system?

This is a very common question in the spring and fall each year.  The Condominium Act does not address these details, nor do any Declarations or bylaws that most Condominiums have in place.  Therefore, we have to look at the process instead of the regulations to understand it better.

Multiple story Condominiums are commonly heated or cooled by a “closed loop system”.  This is a system that sends heated or cooled liquid to each unit in pipes.  The system continually circulates through either a boiler or a chiller in order to keep the liquid at the desired temperature.  Each unit individually extracts the heat or cooling from the liquid by way of their in-suite units.  These systems do not provide heating and cooling at the same time.  That is why the problem is common.

The proper administration of a condominium is a complicated balancing act.  It is difficult, if not impossible to find the exact balance whereby all Owners and residents in a high-rise condominium will agree.  Now throw in variables such as north exposure (cold) versus south exposure (hot), low floor (cold) versus high floor (hot), age and health of the occupants and their tolerance to heat or cold, and you can see that there is no one right answer.

Most Managers coordinate with the contractor who does the changeover from heating and cooling to try and have necessary maintenance done and everything readied to be switched over for mid May and mid October.  In preparing this way, when the weather does change, it will be easier to switch over the system with shorter notice.  Since many systems can only provide either heat or air conditioning, and it is a multiple hour process to switch from one to the other, it is only done once per changeover season.  Also, keep in mind that every building wants to change over on the very same day!  There are not enough technicians in the province to complete that task in one day.  It is usually only possible to choose which week to switch over, and how often is the weather forecast accurate for a whole week in advance?

So, next time you want to ask when the heat is coming on, maybe you should instead ask, “Long sleeved shirt, or short….”

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