Heating & A/C (HVAC)
FURNACE & A/C - CONDO & HI-RISE HVAC UNITS
Apartment Condo HVAC Systems – Heating and Air Conditioning systems (HVAC) for most apartment style condominiums are packaged systems which can consist of a 2 or 4 pipe fan coil system or a heat pump system. Typically you will see a vertical unit housed right inside the wall.
Stacked Condo’s or Townhouses – Heating and Air Conditioning systems (HVAC) can consist of fan coils or even have a heat pump configuration. Typically these HVAC units (Air Handlers), usually located inside a closet, may also include a water heater and or A/C Condenser (located outside the unit).
Note – Not all townhouses use fan coils or heat pumps, some use Gas Powered HVAC systems. If your not sure, get a service call from a qualified specialist.
Types of HVAC Systems
2 Pipe Fan Coil System – Is a single closed loop supply and return water distribution system that serves each suite. The building has a central chiller and cooling tower to cool the water in the loop and a boiler to heat the water in the loop. You cannot cool and heat at the same time.
4 Pipe Fan Coil System – consists of two separate cooling and heating water coils. Each coil has its own dedicated set of pipes (supply and return) and valve. This type of fan coil can cool and heat at the same time and is not dependent of the actual mode of the building.
Heat Pumps – If a system uses water-source heat pumps instead of fan-coils, it can offer the advantages of a four-pipe system while relying on a single hydronic piping circuit. Water-source heat pumps can operate in either cooling or heating mode with a common water loop. Heat Pump Info from Gov’t of Canada nrcan.
Some popular manufacturers – are Unilux, Temspec, Hi-Velocity Systems (by Energy Savings Products) The Whalen Co and AirMax Technologies, I typically see Unilux, Whalen and Temspec in apartment style condo’s and AirMax and Hi-Velocity in stacked condo’s and some townhouses. There are other manufacturers out there.
How To Use Your Fan Coil System
Depending on your condo’s Fan Coil HVAC design you might have a fan coil system “change over date”, which switches the system from air conditioning in the summer to heating systems in the fall. Typically a 2 pipe fan coil system.
You need to ask the building condo corp if you have a “change over date” and when it is and does the system have an auxiliary type heat coil which can be used on those days when the temperatures may fluctuate, where we will have an extraordinarily hot summer-like day followed by a surprise drop in temperature.
Ask your condo corporation about a “change over date”, if applicable.
I found an interesting blog from Tridel speaking more about “change over dates”. The same blog has video’s on Using Your Thermostat it will explain how to use your system. And a video on Replacing Your Filter. Your condo may not be a Tridel but the fan coil HVAC system will be similar.
If your not sure request a service call from a qualified HVAC company and have the service tech go over these things with you for your specific HVAC System.
Servicing and Maintenance – This is really what I wanted to touch on. Most of the units that I’ve inspected have systems that appear to be original. The life expectancy of these units is approx. 15 years.
So what do you do if and when your unit needs a filter, repairs, improvements or even a replacement?
- You should inquire with your condo corporation and or the status certificate as to who is responsible for the HVAC unit. (You should do this even BEFORE you finalize on the purchase of the condo)
- Who’s responsible for parts, filters and or a whole unit replacement. Is it included in your maintenance fees?
- If your responsible, then ask the condo corp or building manager who they recommend to service the HVAC units in the building.
- If they don’t know or don’t get involved then you can start with asking one of your condo neighbors who they use or you can start with Indoor Air Maintenance and Service or Climanetics, both companies appear to specialize in servicing HVAC Systems for condo’s and hi-rise buildings. There are other HVAC companies who can service your unit. It’s up to you to decide who to use.
- You should ask your condo corporation or the HVAC service technician if your system can be used for both winter and summer at the same time.
NOTE – Make sure the HVAC company has experience in fan coil and or heat pump HVAC systems. And remember to get three quotes!