Forced Air Furnace
Gas furnaces are the most popular furnaces for Residential and Commercial properties. There are oil fired
furnaces but they are not as popular. Today's gas furnaces are highly efficient with 2 stage heat exchanger's,
multi stage gas valves and ECM blower motors, they can have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of
between 90 and 97 percent. Where the AFUE is a comparison of the input to the output fuel. The higher the
number the more efficient the unit is. When used in conjunction with a set back thermostat today's furnaces can
be set to turn on and off at certain times of the day or even run all day at low settings (less energy loss) to keep
the air in the house circulating and evenly distributed.
Forced Air Furnaces - will have a furnace unit usually sitting in the basement with large square vents or Plenum
running along the ceiling areas which delivers the air to the individual rooms - you will notice rectangular metal
boxes on the floor below the windows in the rooms, these are called heat registers this is where the heat or A/C
is blowing out off.
The high efficient furnaces typically have plastic type piping to exhaust the left over gas and sometimes an air
intake pipe to bring in fresh air. Some installations may not require the air intake pipe, if there is enough free or
fresh air around the furnace then you can use the house air. If your furnace is located inside a room or inside
the laundry room it may be considered to be an enclosed furnace room and may require the fresh air intake
pipe and or fresh air to be available at all times. This can be done by using a louvered door to the furnace
room or grills to be installed on the furnace room door or wall - I highly recommend you call a licensed HVAC
Specialist to help determine your specific requirements.
If you don't provide fresh air then combustion gases may spill back into the house and possibly be a
health/safety issue - carbon monoxide poisoning.
The ENERGY STAR® symbol is a consumer icon in the Canadian marketplace. It instantly identifies
RESIDENTIAL and COMMERCIAL products that have qualified as high efficiency. You can save money when
choosing an energy efficient product.
ENERGY STAR Canada is a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and industry to make
high efficiency products readily available and visible to Canadians. There are over 70 products which have the
energy label. Check out our "Energy Efficient Products Guide" in the "General House Info" Section of this
website for more info.
The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) has a certification program that is relied heavily
upon by regulators for accurate and unbiased evaluation of heating, water heating, ventilation, air conditioning,
and commercial refrigeration equipment. They also have a Directory of Certified Product Performance list for
heating and air conditioning products.
How much do they Cost
It depends. Since Ontario banned all older type furnaces Dec 31, 2009 (read NRC article) then if your furnace
is older and has a metal type vent which is connected to a chimney it may require a net new installation,
meaning the new furnace being high efficient will require the plastic type piping (gas exhaust and fresh air
intake) to be installed directly outside the exterior wall of your house, which will also depend on where the pipes
can actually be run (if any windows, gas meter or air intakes are in the way). Generally this type of installation
can run approx $4,000-$6,000. Today you can rent your furnace, great if you don't have any money and it's
the middle of winter, but be sure this is what you want since most contracts will probably be long term and at the
end may cost more if not much more than the actual purchase price - read your contract make sure your okay
with it!. Make sure you read over our section on Life Expectancy/Pricing, Contractors and Buyer Beware for
The Ontario Green Fund also has some rebates for upgrading your furnace.
Which Furnace Mfg?
People always ask me this questions and I can't really compare the different manufacturers such as; Lennox,
Goodman, Carrier, York and so many others. In my experience all of the newer furnaces have so much more
components and electronics it's not a matter of who is better but if they break down who do I call and how much
will it cost me...because it's not if they break down it's when will they and most will require parts replacements
probably within 3-7 years. How long will they last will also depend on the maintenance you provide and how
often they are being used. Life Expectancy is approx 15-20 years.
You may elect to have your furnace put on service/maintenance contract. Were the company will come over
1-2/year and service your furnace also if a component breaks they typically come and repair/replace without
any additional charges depending on which service level you purchase. The most popular companies would be
Reliance and Enercare but there are many other smaller firms who can provide service. YOU need to do your
homework on this and READ the fine print - some don't cover furnace filters!.
Gas fireplaces have increased in popularity over the past few years. For many homeowners, the attraction of
owning a gas fireplace lies in the following:
• the convenience of an on/off switch and an ever-present fuel supply
• the cleanliness factor (gas fireplaces generate no mess in terms of ashes, wood chips, bark, etc.)
• the elimination of chimney cleaning
• the safety of sealed combustion units, which offer little chance for toxic combustion gases to spill into the room
• the environmental benefits as compared with those of a conventional wood fireplace
Although gas fireplaces have been around for a few years, many homeowners disliked their “fake-looking,”
uninteresting flames. To counteract this negative perception of gas fireplaces, manufacturers have devoted
much effort to producing a yellow flame that more closely resembles the flame of a wood-burning fireplace, yet is
still clean-burning. As well, other aesthetic improvements have made gas fireplaces much more appealing to
homeowners. However, not all gas fireplaces are created equal. Some designs are extremely efficient, safe to
operate and provide a lot of heat. Others can be very inefficient, and vent-free technology can cause indoor air-
quality problems. It pays to be an informed consumer. By knowing what to look for and what to avoid, you can
select a gas fireplace that will suit your home’s decor, contribute to its heating needs and give you peace of mind.
HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING
A WETT inspection, which stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, includes a thorough inspection of all
wood burning appliances such as stoves and open fireplaces, by a certified WETT inspector.
An inspection for the wood burning technologies in your home is important for a number of reasons. With wood
burning appliances, the potential for harmful pollutants to be released into your home as well as combustible
materials to ignite is increased, so it is important that these appliances are regularly inspected and properly
maintained. If you have a home that already includes one of these features, or you would like to purchase one
and have it installed in your home, having a WETT certified inspector or technician involved is a necessity.
WETT specialty inspections are also now being required as a part of the home insuring process. In fact, many
homeowners first hear about WETT specialty inspections because an insurance company asks that their
appliances be examined by a WETT certified inspector or during an Home Inspection the inspector should
indicate that ALL wood burning devices should be W.E.T.T. Inspected. In Canada, insurance companies
require homes using wood burning appliances to be thoroughly inspected by a professional and
cleared/approved before the home can be insured.
Were to find a Certified W.E.T.T Specialist: Certified W.E.T.T Professional
More About Wood Burning Fireplaces - Wood Heat Organization
The choice of which filter to buy for your furnace depends on how much you want to spend, what you're trying
For most homeowners, a more expensive MERV 7 or 8 pleated filter provides a good balance between cost and
filtration for most households.filtration efficiency. These filters trap 80 to 95 percent of the particles 5 microns
Furnace efficiency is one thing. But if you're a clean freak or have family members with allergies or
low-immunity issues, spend more on a high-efficiency (MERV 11 and higher) filter. Then just make sure you
stay on top of filter changes to protect your furnace.
High-efficiency filters capture 99 percent of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns (bacteria and viruses,
fumes and pollen). But you'll have to run your furnace fan full time to get the maximum benefit from a
high-efficiency filter, and that will cost more. Figure the extra cost into your decision.
Never switch from a fiberglass filter to a high-efficiency filter without first talking to your HVAC technician. The
technician can boost fan speed to compensate for the reduced airflow. Even then, you still have to be diligent
about replacing the filter regularly. A clogged filter can burn out the blower motor, damage the heat exchanger
and cost you hundreds of dollars in wasted energy.
Traditionally, furnace filters were designed to protect the furnace and fans. With increased air quality
awareness, some filters are now being installed to reduce exposure to particles which can affect your
health.There is a wide variety of furnace filters available. However, you may find it confusing to select one which
The purpose of this CMHC document is to provide you with guidance when selecting your furnace filter.
An air-conditioning system can provide comfort for occupants by lowering the air temperature
There are many factors involved when deciding on an air conditioner or furnace for your home. To size an air conditioner you
must first decide which type would best be suited for your specific requirements. Do you need to cool a single room or multiple
rooms such as an entire house. Does your house have the distribution system in place such as a duct or plenum system, to
distribute the cool air throughout the house, you may be limited to a window or ductless system such as the case with a boiler
type heating system in the house. In some cases you may be able to install a split A/C system in the attic or even retrofit a
duct/plenum system utilizing closet space.
There are primarily three different types of Air Conditioning systems - Window fixed, mini split ductless room or portable and full
house split air conditions systems.
How large of an A/C unit do I need?
Whole house units or split A/C systems are rated from 12,000-42,000 or approx 1- 4 ton's. Keep in mind the calculations are an
approx its always a good idea to hire a licensed HVAC specialist for the final sizing (insulation levels, room sizes, ceiling
heights,size and orientation of the windows and doors plus other considerations all have an effect on the proper sizing) . Contrary
to what you may think bigger is not always better and smaller is not always right as well, why?...Oversizing or Undersizing can cost
you performance, efficiency and comfort issues.
Window A/C's and portable units are typically rated or advertised in BTU's (5000-12,000 BTU's). Your Best Digs is a website
which compares 20 portable A/C units, and if you read the article there is a section on how to determine the size (BTU's) of A/C
unit you need for a specific size room...read the whole article it's very interesting.
Natural Resources Canada has a detailed guide...Air Conditioning Your Home which provides information about how A/C's
operate, energy efficiency ratings regulations as well as detailed info on window and whole house systems.
You may be eligible for REBATES from IESO - Independent Electricity System operator formally known as Ontario Power Authority
(OPA). Individual manufacturers may even offer an incentive program, make sure you ask your approved retailer. Find out which
manufacturer your approved retailer is recommending (Typical brands...Kenmore,Goodman,Lennox,Sears,Keeprite) and then
check that mfg website to see if they offer any further incentives/rebates directly to YOU the consumer.
The Ontario Green Fund also has some rebates for upgrading your Air Conditioner.
Often clients ask me about maintenance programs or service contracts. My personal belief is that if you don't mind paying a small
monthly fee you should inquire about a service contract and or a maintenance contract. A contract usually covers parts and
labour, read the contract to see which parts are covered. Enercare and Reliance Home Comfort are large HVAC resellers with
several types of maintenance contracts. There are many other resellers in Ontario who can help but to many to list here, check
below on Where to Purchase.
Another good point to consider is that when you sell your house the service contract may be transferable to a new buyer/owner.
Some manufacturers indicate that the typical life expectancy of a A/C Condenser is approx 10-15 years (see page 11 Study of
Life Expectancies guide) where some may indicate 15-20 years in cooler climates such as Canada (Ontario) where A/C are not
utilized as much. I also find that some people don't use the A/C often or the summer days in Ontario don't justify the use of an
A/C. It's not uncommon for me to inspect a house where the A/C Condenser for a full house system is over 25 years old and is
still in working condition, although for how long...who knows!. Today's appliances - A/C's and Furnaces have so much more
electronics and parts that a part replacement or improvement may be required within 5-10 years again depending on how often
they are being utilized...this is where a Service/Maintenance contract is a good idea.
Where to Purchase:
There are many places to shop for A/C units from small speciality HVAC companies to large national resellers to home
department stores. Please take the time to throughly research the information to help you decide what to buy, how large to buy
and most of all who to buy it from. HRAI - Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada can help you find a
licensed HVAC contractor. Make sure you read over our section on Life Expectancy/Pricing, Contractors and Buyer Beware for
Should you clean your furnace air ducts? That is a question that is often asked. Some suggest cleaning air
ducts should be done on a regular basis while others suggest only cleaning air ducts only if needed. Should
you use chemicals or biocides in the process of cleaning or even a sealant? Who do I use that is reputable
and Certified and how can I tell if the job was done right?
Here is a detailed .pdf on "Should you have the air ducts cleaned in your home?" In this file you will find
answers to those questions above and much more information. Here is a link to the National Air Duct
Cleaning Association where you will find more information as well as an area where you can actually search
for a Certified Duct Cleaner in Canada or the US. I also found an article from the Toronto Star "Is Duct
Cleaning Worth It" article by Jessica Mcdiarmid which you may find interesting to read.
Full house split a/c system
Window a/c system
Ductless room a/c system
Furnace - Plastic (white) pipes
and metal plenum
Furnace - Metal (silver) pipes
Furnace Room -enclosed,
notice the louvered doors.