Switching Between Heating and Cooling: What’s Involved with HVAC Systems
The seasons are changing, but the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system in your condo unit hasn’t been switched soon enough to compensate for outdoor temperatures. Every year during spring and fall, the CMRAO receives complaints from condo residents about condominium managers not switching their HVAC systems.
Timing the switch “properly” is difficult to do for at least two reasons:
- There’s more to switching between heating and cooling than simply flipping a switch
- It’s impossible to predict precisely when to switch
The condominium manager does not decide when to switch between heating and cooling—the Board of Directors of the condominium corporation does. The Board may make their decision based on a number of factors, and it can be difficult to make a decision that will satisfy all residents.
Scheduling the Switch
Once the Board chooses a switchover date, the condominium manager schedules an HVAC contractor to come on site and make the switch. Contractors are in demand during “switchover seasons,” so they are often booked weeks or even months ahead of time.
Performing the Switch
The switch process itself takes a few days. Before the switch, the contractor typically performs preventative maintenance tasks such as:
- checking refrigerant levels
- checking for refrigerant leaks
- cleaning and straightening condenser coils to ensure proper air flow
- checking air filters
- checking gas connections for leaks
- tightening electrical connections
- lubricating moving parts
- testing the thermostat to make sure it cycles the system on and off properly
This preventative maintenance helps keep the condominium’s costs down by having the contractor:
- address any minor issues before they become large and expensive problems
- ensure the HVAC system works at maximum efficiency
Once the process is completed, it can still take time for the HVAC system to fully transition between heating and cooling.
Timing the HVAC Switchover
In Ontario, many condominiums switch their HVAC systems to AC in late spring and go back to heating in early fall. Weather conditions in the spring and fall can vary from year to year, and in some years they vary week to week. Condominiums also need to schedule an HVAC contractor’s services ahead of time and during their busiest seasons. With these factors considered, timing the HVAC switchover is more complex than it may seem.
What Can You Do?
Condominium managers arrange for seasonal heating/cooling switchovers, but they do so at the request of the condominium boards that hire them. Ultimately, the Board of Directors is responsible for deciding when to start this process, not the condominium manager.
Here is what you can do if you find yourself in this situation:
- Watch for notices from your board and management about the HVAC switchover. They will explain timing and other aspects about it that you need to know.
- Talk to your condominium manager if any information is unclear to you.
- Consider joining your condominium board if you are interested in the decision-making and management of your condominium corporation.
The CMRAO regulates the condominium management sector in Ontario, and the activities of condominium boards are not part of the CMRAO’s mandate. This means that complaints submitted about late or early switching between heating and cooling do not fall under our jurisdiction and we may not take action on them.