Winter 2019 in Ontario — When Will It End?

Canadians across the country are eager for the cold temperatures and the consistent snowy weather of winter 2019 to come to an end. This winter has brought record snowfalls, freezing cold temperatures, damaging winds, and whiteout blizzard conditions to all parts of Ontario.


A polar vortex brought weeks of extreme cold temperatures to the region in January, with Toronto experiencing its coldest January 5th in the city’s history with a temperature of -23c. Then on January 29, the city of Toronto got levelled with an overnight snowstorm. So much so that it shattered the previous single-day snowfall record from 1968.

If you keep active in winter by skiing, skating outdoors, snowshoeing or snowmobiling, this is that ‘old-fashioned Canadian winter” youve been dreaming for with record-breaking snow accumulation. Total monthly snowfall accumulation for January has almost doubled over a year ago in many areas of the province. Ottawa recorded 101.8 cm this January, compared to 63.8 cm a year ago.

But if youve been hibernating most of the winter, avoiding the extreme cold temperatures and wind chill into the minus 30 temperatures, you will be counting the days until you can bid this winter a fond farewell. And what about the snowbirds making their annual trek down south to Florida? Florida and other destinations in the southern U.S. have also experienced below average temperatures during the first few months of 2019.

Groundhog Day

According to legend, the fate of predicting the coming of spring rests on the shoulders of some furry groundhogs annually on February 2 a day we have come to know as Groundhog Day. Most of the groundhogs in North America were in agreement that day this year, not seeing their shadows thus predicting an early spring. While this prediction may warm the heart, you’re probably better off not taking this too seriously.

Farmer’s Almanac

In reality, we will need to brace ourselves for a longer winter than normal this year. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts continuing snow and cold temperatures for the remainder of February and into the first week of March. Early March brings rain showers that convert to snow showers in parts of the province. Cold temperatures linger until the end of the month. Winter is expected to hang on through April and even into early May.

Staying Warm

A long heating season can put an extra strain on your home heating systems and your finances too.

You’ll want to ensure that your heating system stays the course. It’s a good idea to keep your furnace running optimally with scheduled regular maintenance visits to fix potential problems before they escalate into an emergency furnace breakdown. This is usually the time of year you may start to hear some unusual noises from the furnace that you haven’t heard before. Don’t ignore these new noises as they are telling you something. Not only will a broken furnace put the safety of your family at risk, your home’s water pipes can freeze costing thousands of dollars in repairs.

Many Canadians turn to gas fireplaces as their source of heat. A gas fireplace offers the convenience of instant warmth and comfort by the click of a button. A fireplace tune-up can prevent problems, and ensure your fireplace is operating at peak efficiency to keep you and everyone in your home warm during the extended heating season of Winter 2019.

What Most People Don’t Know About HVAC Warranties

HVAC warranties are supposed to give peace of mind. When it comes to your family’s home comfort, it’s important to know you can count on the warranty to cover you. Unfortunately, homeowners who thought they had warranty coverage too often find themselves on the hook for substantial repair costs.

Why are HVAC warranties so often a source of frustration? Is there a way to make sure you’re covered in the event of an emergency furnace or A/C breakdown? The truth is, there’s no such thing as a fool-proof manufacturer’s warranty. Warranty coverage can vary greatly between manufacturers, and even between different product lines from the same manufacturer, in terms of:

  • Which components are and aren’t covered
  • When the warranty coverage begins and ends
  • How to make a warranty claim
  • What can void or end your coverage
  • The requirements to extend or continue the coverage

To add to the confusion, your warranty coverage can change after the system has been purchased and installed.

At AtlasCare, we understand that heating and cooling equipment is a substantial investment. Not only is a new furnace or air conditioner costly, but it affects your family’s comfort and wellbeing as well. It’s important you know exactly what you’re getting (and what you’re not getting) out of your HVAC warranty coverage. We’ve outlined what you should look for when it comes to reading HVAC warranties.

Types of HVAC System Warranties

Not sure if your equipment is under warranty? First, understand that there are several types of warranties to consider:

  1. The manufacturer warranty is an agreement with the company that made the equipment and comes with your purchase. These warranties typically offer limited coverage that begins when your equipment was purchased or installed, with the option for extended coverage upon registration.
  2. The installation warranty or contractor warranty is an agreement with the HVAC contractor that installed your equipment. It covers defects or accidental damage that occur during installation. Reputable HVAC repair companies in Ontario Canada guarantee their work with an installation warranty. Our unconditional warranty covers everything we install for five years, including all replacement parts and labour.
  3. In some regions, a home warranty may cover the HVAC units that comes with new construction. However, here in Ontario, your Tarion warranty coverages do not cover HVAC equipment.
  4. This article mainly concerns manufacturer warranties on furnaces, water heaters, air conditioning, and other heating and cooling systems.

Things You Might Not Know About HVAC Manufacturer Warranties

Planning to replace your furnace or buy a new air conditioner? Take a second look at the warranty before you make your choice.

  • You need to register your equipment to unlock the extended warranty. Warranty registration is a crucial step in installing a new furnace, air conditioner, water heater, or any other significant part of your HVAC system. Usually, you have a 60-day or 90-day window.
  • System and parts warranties may not cover labour. The manufacturer may have you covered when it comes to replacement parts, but not the HVAC contractor’s labour. Some manufacturers, like York, do cover labour on their air conditioners and furnaces – but only for a limited time after installation. Always check the scope of the warranty before you buy.
  • Different components may have different warranty terms. The manufacturer warranty often sets out different terms for different parts of the system. For example, Lennox’s Signature Series Furnaces have a 20-year or limited lifetime warranty on the heat exchanger but only 10 years on other parts.
  • You can lose your warranty if you don’t have your equipment serviced annually. Many manufacturer warranties for big-ticket appliances like furnaces, air conditioners, or water heaters are void if you skip your annual tune-up. When it comes time to use your warranty, the manufacturer may require documentation from your service technician as proof. It’s not the only reason to invest in annual service for your furnace or air conditioner, but it’s an important one.
  • If the wrong person services your equipment, the warranty on that equipment is void. Most HVAC warranties are void if the equipment is installed by someone who isn’t a certified technician. This goes for accessories like smart thermostats, too. Don’t let your eagerness to do-it-yourself lock you out of your warranty coverage.
  • If the unit is under extended warranty, only a dealer of that manufacturer can claim back the warranty for you. Keep this in mind when dealing with a third-party dealer.
  • Finally, although the warranty may cover the cost of HVAC repair, that doesn’t necessarily mean fast HVAC repair. Manufacturer warranties seldom cover the additional cost of emergency service or service after hours.

What to Do If Your System Isn’t Under Warranty

In a best-case scenario, the manufacturer warranty on your heating or air conditioning system has you covered. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. You might be surprised to find out that your coverage isn’t as solid as you thought.

AtlasCare takes steps to ensure our customers get the most out of the equipment we install for them. We take care of the warranty registration, organize the documentation in a custom-made folder, and provide an unconditional five-year warranty on parts and labour. Although diagnostic charges are not covered under a manufacturer warranty, if you complete a service contract with us, it is covered.

Beyond that, we encourage our customers to invest in a Protection Plan that covers home comfort equipment beyond the limited warranty. Given that a well-kept furnace or air conditioner can last for 15 to 20 years, it’s a worthwhile investment.

AtlasCare Crowned Top Choice Award Winner for Top Air Conditioning and Heating Company in 2019

Oakville, OntarioFebruary 14, 2019 — Top Choice Awards has announced the 2019 Top Choice Award Winners, your city’s most trusted businesses. We at AtlasCare are proud to announce that we have been crowned the winner for Top Choice Air Conditioning and Heating Company of 2019 in the Greater Toronto Area. AtlasCare has set new standards for quality, service, image, value and professionalism. This could not have been done without the dedication of our co-workers and customers, and for that we are very grateful to you all.

We truly appreciate this recognition and the association with the exclusive Top Choice Award circle of winners in North America and Europe. Winning the Top Choice Award is one of the most coveted endorsements a business can receive, and this victory is a testament of our dedication to the consistent pursuit of total customer satisfaction.

We at AtlasCare would like to thank all of the voters for voting us your Top Choice of 2019 and we trust to always have your support. Cheers to a great year ahead!

Sincerely, the AtlasCare team

On behalf of our team we would like to extend our warmest congratulations to all of the winners and nominees of the 2019 Top Choice Award Survey.

About AtlasCare

For more than 85 years, AtlasCare has proudly provided exceptional HVAC products, installations, and after-sales customer support for all your home’s heating and cooling needs. AtlasCare also provides NADCA-certified residential duct-cleaning services and professional plumbing services, and leads the industry as Canada’s first ISO-certified residential heating and air conditioning contractor.

Our award-winning HVAC services have received recognition from Ontario consumer and industry groups alike, including the Top Choice Air Conditioning and Heating Company of 2019, 2019 Consumer Choice for Air Conditioning and Heating Contractors, 2018 Mississauga People’s Choice Award and 2018 Lennox Partner of the Year Award (Toronto District).

You can find us on our website or on social media at:





About the Top Choice Award

Top Choice Awards is an International market research firm, focusing on the experience of the customers. Since 2005, winners are released annually to recognize and showcase the most trusted and appealing service organizations and businesses in over 30 markets surveyed. Top Choice Awards collects and reviews the opinions of thousands of customers annually. The results of those studies are used by companies to improve customer satisfaction and business development while their winner lists provide customers the power to enjoy Top quality experiences through making educated purchasing decisions.

What’s That Smell? Things You Don’t Want Your Household Guests Noticing Before You Do

Every house has a smell. Smells come from the people who live there, their pets, and possibly the foods they cook. And most often these odours are harmless, but sometimes, they are unpleasant or even bad for your health.

You certainly wouldn’t want your guests to notice these smells before you do!

Household odours run the gamut from innocent and unpleasant, to noxious and harmful to your health and the health of others. Good habits like taking your garbage out regularly, banishing cigarette smokers outside, and not letting sweaty sports equipment pile up can help.

But indoor air can become particularly dry and stale when the temperatures fall and our homes are locked up tight to keep the cold air out. At these times, an air freshener doesn’t cut it.

Ensuring adequate ventilation systems can improve poor indoor air quality and keep humidity from building up in your home.

Here are some common household smells in your home and what you can do about it.

Pets and Other Animals

You love your pet, but he’s not always the cleanest!

Pet odours can be tough because they are constant and can become embedded in fibres. Sprinkling baking soda on furniture and carpeting, letting it sit for at least 10 minutes before vacuuming out can minimize odours.

If the smell is noxious and sickly, trust your instincts on this one! If something smells like a dead animal, it likely is one. You may have an insect nest or a deceased animal somewhere in your plumbing or duct system. Time to call a home comfort specialist for a precision drain cleaning or duct cleaning before this problem gets any worse.

Fishy Smells

Unless you’ve just brought home a fresh catch, the smell could come from burning electrical equipment. Electrical wires or other plastic components can emit a fish or urine smell when exposed to high heat.

Go around house check outlets. Look for electrical equipment that looks burnt or melting. Remove any plastics that are close to any heat source.

Musty, Dusty, Mouldy Smells

If you have any damp areas in your home, or water leaks and moisture build-up, these can all lead to musty smells and even worse, mould build-up. Surface mould can be easily cleaned up with a vinegar and water solution, but severe mould can be dangerously toxic and needs a more extensive fix.

You can control mould and humidity in your home with an adequate ventilation system. Air purifiers and other accessories can improve indoor air quality and keep humidity from building up in your home.

Rotten Egg Smell

A rotten egg smell could indicate a natural gas or propane leak and will need immediate attention. You will need to call your gas company for repair.

This smell could also come from a clogged P-trap in your drain. A P-trap that is working properly will contain trapped water to create an air-lock to prevent sewer gases coming up your drain. Sometimes it will dry up from lack of use and cause sewer gases and odours to release. Water should be run at least once a month to prevent this from happening.

Cooking Smells

Not all smells emanating from your kitchen are good ones! Everyone loves your Sunday chicken curry dish, but perhaps not the smell it leaves behind. And do you really want everyone to know that you’ve been frying bacon and onions?

Eliminating cooking smells can be as easy as turning on your stove’s overhead fan or opening a window. Though some chefs recommend sprinkling some salt over halved potatoes on a plate in your kitchen while you cook or lighting a scented candle.

Good kitchen habits, like washing all the dishes after each meal, and taking the garbage out promptly will help. If the garbage is not yet full, sprinkle some coffee grinds over to eliminate odour. If the garbage can itself smells, wash the container with warm water and vinegar, and sprinkle some baking soda in before putting the plastic liner in.

Bathroom Smells

Make sure your bathroom exhaust fan is working to draw out moisture and odours from the bathroom. Having a spray bottle handy for emergencies is a great idea! Simply mix 2 cups of water with 1 tbsp. white vinegar, I tsp. baking soda, and 10 drops of essential oil.

Reducing Indoor Air Pollutants

Many indoor air quality problems can be resolved with proper ventilation. Enhancing your HVAC system with accessories like air ventilators, humidifiers and purification systems to ensure your indoor air is as fresh and clean as possible.

It’s also important to know that not all air pollutants come with a tell-tale scent. Carbon monoxide, a potentially-deadly gas, has no taste or smell. Every home in Ontario, no matter its size or age, must have a certified CO alarm to warn inhabitants of the presence of carbon monoxide.

5 Ways to Future-Proof Your Home Against Rising Energy Costs in Ontario

Between an unstable global fuel market and battles over energy policy back home, there’s no telling exactly how Canada’s energy future will unfold. What we do know is this: the cost of natural gas or electricity will continue to fluctuate, and there’s not much that Ontario homeowners can do about it.

What you can do is take steps future-proof your home against rising home energy prices.

Planning home upgrades and renovations with a mind to the future has been shown to save hundreds or even thousands in energy costs year after year. And if you live in Ontario, where heat is by far the biggest energy expense for most families, the ‘H’ in ‘HVAC’ is the best place to start.

Let’s look at the various options you have when it comes to future-proofing your home against rising gas and electricity costs in Ontario and beyond.

1. Smart Home Technology

It’s incredible to think how much smart home technology has evolved in the past decade. What began as a novelty has grown to become an integral part of millions of homes worldwide.

Today, we build many new houses to use smart technology from the ground up. But there are also many ways to rewire an existing home to integrate smart home technology, including smart Wi-Fi thermostats.

When it comes to future-proof home, a smart thermostat is a must. Products like the Nest, Honeywell Evohome, Lennox iComfort and ecobee smart thermostats are a powerful ally in the fight against rising utility bills.

How does smart home heating work? Each smart thermostat model has unique features and functions, but they share many of the same benefits across the board:

  • Cost savings. The biggest selling point of a smart Wi-Fi thermostat is that it enables you to easily monitor and control your energy usage, empowering you to strategically manage your heating system to reduce costs.
  • Fewer breakdowns. The constant feedback available with smart thermostats can alert you early on to potential furnace maintenance issues. The sooner you notice and address these issues, the less likely you are to need an emergency furnace repair call.
  • Increased home value. Having a smart-ready home makes your home technologically relevant and appealing to the next generation of home buyers.

Depending on the age of your home, chances are your original furnace or boiler wasn’t wired serve as a platform for smart home technology. However, many newer models are made with smart thermostats in mind. Be sure to consider the value of smart home tech when you’re considering your next heating upgrade.


2. High-Efficiency Furnaces and Boilers

Today, most homes in Ontario are heated in one of two ways: a forced-air furnace or a hydronic system powered by a boiler. Forced air heating is the standard in most newer builds.

The efficiency of a furnace or boiler is measured by the annual fuel utilization rate, better known as the AFUE, which tells you the ratio of the unit’s actual heat output compared to its energy usage. A furnace with a 90% AFUE, for instance, turns 90% of its energy consumption into heat – the remaining 10% goes out through the chimney.

Why is the AFUE rating important? Because when it comes to rising energy costs, every bit of wasted energy counts towards higher utility bills. The higher the AFUE, the greater the benefits of energy efficiency.

  • Older, low-efficiency furnaces typically have an AFUE of 56% to 70%, which means about a third of the money spent heating the home goes to waste. That could count for hundreds of dollars each winter and thousands over the lifetime of the unit.
  • Compared that to current high-efficiency systems, which boast up to 98.5% AFUE, and it’s clear why a higher-efficiency heating unit is a future-proofing essential.

It’s important to note, however, that a bigger furnace isn’t necessarily a more efficient one for your home. A properly-sized furnace or boiler will almost always be more efficient than an oversized one, even if the more powerful unit is technically higher in AFUE. When buying a new furnace, you should always consult a trustworthy heating contractor to help you choose the right size of unit.


3. Duct Sealing

If you’re thinking of future-proofing your home with a higher-efficiency forced air furnace, there’s one other step you should take at the same time: air duct sealing.

The AFUE rating of a furnace doesn’t account for heat loss that occurs through holes in the ductwork or piping – which can account for as much as 35% of the unit’s energy output, according to ENERGY STAR. That means up to 35% of the warm air ends up in unheated spaces instead of the living space.

If the heated air can’t reach its destination, the potential cost-savings of an energy-efficient heating system are significantly lower.

4. Increased Insulation

You might be surprised to learn the impact insulation can have on your heating bills. Walls can account for 20% of a home’s heat loss, even before you count air leakage through cracks and gaps.

The criteria for effective insulation is threefold: it must successfully resist heat flow, fill the space completely and evenly, and be durable enough to provide years of dependability. Additionally, for some locations, it must withstand exposure to heat and moisture.

If you’re not sure what kind of insulation you have, or you don’t know when it was installed, it’s time to give your walls a second look. Replacing outdated, ineffective insulation is a necessity when it comes to keeping heating costs low. Along with being more efficient, newer types of insulation have the added benefit of being less toxic.

5. Energy-Efficient Windows

We don’t often think of windows when we talk about innovation and efficiency, but we should. Windows (and skylights) are often one of the biggest sources of heat loss. In some cases, it accounts for a whopping 30% of the home’s overall energy loss.

Part of this loss stems from radiant heat transfer – when heat hits the window, it transfers some of its energy to the cold air outside. The other source of heat loss is air escaping through windows is through the small, often invisible gaps between the window frame and the home’s envelope. Future-proofing your home will require you to tackle both issues.

The simplest way to cut radiant heat loss through windows is to add thick, energy-efficient window treatments that act as an extra layer of insulation. That’s a good interim solution until you’re ready to replace the windows with energy-efficient models, which is where you’ll see real energy savings.

  • Compared to standard windows, choosing ENERGY STAR-certified models can save an extra 8% on your home heating bills. Look for windows with low-e glass or low-e window coatings.
  • The cost of low-e windows is higher than standard ones, but they pay back energy savings by reflecting heat energy back into the living space when it hits the glass.
  • Some models also come with inert gasses between the panes instead of air for better insulation.

When window shopping, it’s important to look at the product’s intended Climate Zone. Southern Ontario sits in Climate Zone 2. If you purchase windows rated for Zone 1, you might find it doesn’t insulate as well as advertised.

What About Alternative Heating Technologies?

It’s hard to know exactly where things will go when it comes to alternative and renewable heating technologies in Canada.

Several years ago, for instance, policymakers in Ontario saw heat pumps as the ideal heating solution. However, despite the potential benefits of this technology, heat pumps haven’t been adopted as readily by consumers as expected – and the number of rebates available for heat pumps has declined.

But that doesn’t mean that newer heating technologies aren’t worth considering. In fact, there are more options than ever when it comes to future-proofing your home’s heating system with innovative and efficient alternatives.

Heat pumps, which move heat energy from one space to another instead of generating it, are like a furnace and air conditioner in one. Air-source heat pumps provide warmth by moving heat from the cool outdoor air into the home. It’s always possible to extract some heat energy from the air, even in the coldest Canadian winter.

During the summer, heat pumps reverse the process to cool the air. Although heat pumps cannot replace furnaces in most parts of Canada (most experts agree heat pumps are inadequate in temperatures below -15°C), they work well as a source of back-up heat and a replacement for air conditioning.

Solar heating is another intriguing option that has grown significantly in recent years. Active solar heat systems use solar energy to heat liquid or air, then transfer it into the interior space or a storage system for later use.

An active solar heating system can be combined with a radiant floor system, forced-air system or water heater to distribute supplementary solar heat. It presents an opportunity to put Ontario’s abundant solar resources to use and supplement your existing heating system with renewable energy.

A Solution for Rising Energy Costs in Ontario

Future-proofing won’t look the same for every home in Ontario. The best solution for you might not be the same as that of your friend across town, and it might even look different from your next-door neighbour’s.

Proper, well-founded future-proofing takes considering into where you live, your home’s age and structure, your family’s unique needs, and the systems already in place. Together, these factors inform which solutions will work best together to provide you with long-term value and comfort.

Any time you’re considering changes to your home heating system, it always pays to have input from home comfort specialists. Contact our team for information about heating installation and services your home in the Greater Toronto Area.