AtlasCare Announced Title Sponsor of Golf Fore MS Peel-Dufferin

September might just be our favourite month of the year.

Granted, it marks the bittersweet end of the summer season (and the start of six to eight months of cruel weather.) But it also brings us one of the single most anticipated events on the AtlasCare calendar: the annual Golf Fore MS Classic.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, at the Royal Ontario Golf Club. We know many of you have already secured your spot in the tournament – but if not, you can still register as a participant today.

We’re counting down the days and can’t wait to see you there! In the meantime, here’s a bit of background on what makes this event so special to the AtlasCare team.

What Is the Golf Fore MS Classic?

Golf Fore MS is an annual charity golf tournament organized by the Peel-Dufferin Chapter of the MS Society of Canada. The funds raised here go towards supporting two very important causes: researching the cause, cure and treatment of MS, and helping people in our community who are affected by MS.

Each September, Golf Fore MS takes place at the beautiful Royal Ontario Golf Club in Milton, located just off Trafalgar Road. The tournament kicks off at 8 am and continues into the early afternoon, with plenty of food and refreshments to go around.

For those of you who aren’t the best golfers, you still have a chance to win other fun awards, like the Best Dressed Foursome!

This event is one of the Peel Dufferin Chapter’s biggest and most important fundraisers. In 2018, the Peel Dufferin Chapter contributed close to $55,000 towards funding MS research and provided $60,000 worth of support to individuals living with MS!

AtlasCare continues to be a lead organizer, title sponsor and eager participant in the Golf Fore MS tournament.

Why AtlasCare Supports the MS Society

Charity is at the core of our company culture, and MS is a cause that is very close to our hearts.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is classified as an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerve.) The disease impacts the function of nerve impulses, resulting in a variety of symptoms that have numerous impacts on daily living.

Many people who have MS experience unpredictable remissions and relapses, alternating between manageable periods and difficult ones. You don’t really know when it’ll come knocking at your door. For others, MS is a progressive condition that steadily worsens over time, and it is common for people to gradually transition from one type of MS to another.

Researchers aren’t certain what causes MS, but they do know that Canadians have the highest rate of MS in the world. There are over 77,000 Canadians living with MS today, including people here at home in the GTA.

Multiple Sclerosis has personally affected the Grochmal family twice. Roger Grochmal lost his first wife, Kathy (Michael’s mother) to the disease in 2003, and Michael’s mother-in-law also passed away from MS in 2012.

The MS Society of Canada provides information, support, educational events and other resources for people and families living with MS across Canada. The organization also contributes millions of dollars to research, leading to significant breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment since 1948.

Our local Peel-Dufferin Chapter provides education sessions and webinars, facilitates self-help groups, and provides quality-of-life grants to individuals. Last year, the Chapter contributed $60,000 to help 80 people in the Peel Dufferin area purchase important equipment like wheelchairs, walkers and lifts.

How You Can Support Golf Fore MS

  1. Turn out and play in the tournament! We promise you’ll have an absolute blast. Flip to page 50 of our Culture Book to see what you’d be missing.
  2. Make even more of an impact leading up to the Golf Fore MS Classic by asking your friends, family and co-workers to support your day on the course!
  3. Can’t make it on the 25th? You can still donate to support other participants. Pick your favourite team and help them race to the top!
  4. Become a Golf Fore MS Sponsor! If you miss the opportunity to sponsor this year’s event, you can always plan to do so next year.
  5. Help spread the word about the event on social media – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or wherever you like to hang out!

We’re grateful for your support and can’t wait to see you on the green!

What Happens to Your Furnace When Your Home is Under Construction

Construction is, by nature, a messy process. You can’t build a house without making some dust. Not to mention sawdust, drywall dust, paint fumes, glue vapour…and all sorts of airborne particles you wouldn’t ever want to breathe in

What you might not know that it isn’t good for your HVAC equipment, either.

We hope this article helps shine a light on an issue that every Ontario homeowner should know about.

What Happens to Your Furnace When Your Home’s Under Construction

Heating and cooling technicians warn you not to run your furnace or air conditioner while you’re renovating your home. Construction dust can enter the system through the return air vents and accumulate inside, clogging your equipment and causing significant strain.

The worst culprit of all is drywall dust. If drywall dust gets in your furnace, it can quickly clog the secondary coil, infiltrate the motor and eat away at the bearings inside of the blower fan assembly.

Not to mention the state of your air ducting once it’s been blasted with drywall particles.

Shockingly, we’ve learned that some home builders in Ontario will actually run the home’s furnace while they’re still working on the house…knowing full well that drywall dust could infiltrate the entire HVAC system.

What’s worse, this action will likely void the furnace’s warranty, and future homeowners might have no knowledge of this damage until they’re on the hook for repairs.

Why Your Home’s New Furnace Might Be ‘Used’ After All

You’d expect a brand-new home to come with a brand-new, unused furnace. So, it’s no surprise that homeowners feel cheated when they discover that the builders used it first.

According to one homeowner interviewed for a CBC investigation, “I opened up the front of the furnace and it just looked like a bag of flour exploded in there. The furnace filter was caked with drywall dust and debris.”

You might wonder why home builders are allowed to run a home’s residential furnace during construction. The truth is, they’re not, at least not before the home is still in the drywall phase.

Back in 2016, furnace manufacturers took a stand against this very issue. Working with the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (HRAI), the industry adopted the position that gas furnaces are not permitted to be used in Canada for the heating of buildings or structures under construction.

The Technical Standards and Safety Institute (TSSA) followed suit, issuing Advisory FS-232-17, which states that:

For a furnace to be used during the finishing stages of construction all of the following requirements must be met:

  • The furnace’s return air and supply air openings must be covered to minimize infiltration of dust prior to and during dust-generating construction activities (e.g. drywall installation, woodworking). 
  • All interior drywall must be installed, taped, sanded and first coat of primer applied.
  • The building must be cleaned of all debris and drywall dust. 
  • A new furnace filter must be installed, rated at MERV 11 or finer. The filter itself must be labelled accordingly by the manufacturer for easy identification. 
  • The furnace must be commissioned by a TSSA-registered heating contractor in accordance with the manufacturer’s certified installation instructions and to match values shown on the furnace’s rating plate. 
  • Arrangements must be made with the fuel distributor to inspect the furnace subsequent to it being used for Finishing Heat (can be done in conjunction with inspection of all other gas appliances prior to final occupancy)

These new rules draw a clear line between ‘Construction Heat’ and ‘Finishing Heat,’ which essentially bans builders from running the furnace while the house is still full of drywall dust.

However, it’s clear from CBC’s investigation that some builders are still skirting the rules.

What You Can Do

So, you suspect that your furnace was operating during construction (either during the home build or a renovation.) What should you do?

  1. First, don’t panic. If you’re comfortable looking into your furnace, you can take off the front panel and do a quick visual inspection. Drywall isn’t subtle, so you might see evidence of damage right away. One person described it as, “looking like a bag of flour exploded in there.”
  2. Next, call a home heating professional to conduct a furnace inspection. A knowledgeable service technician can advise you of your options if your furnace is caked with drywall dust or sawdust.
  3. If there’s drywall dust or sawdust  in your furnace, there’s drywall dust or sawdust in your ductwork as well. Many HVAC manufacturers recommend that home builders have the air ducts cleaned before the homeowner moves in, but that doesn’t always happen. Call us to discuss whether you could benefit from an air duct cleaning.

How Our Business Gives Back to the Community – And You Can, Too

Since our start back in 1932, helping others has been an integral part of AtlasCare’s company culture. Whether it’s raising funds, spreading awareness or donating our time to a local cause, we’re always looking for ways to give something back to this community we call home.

Sometimes, we all get together to contribute as a team – but we also support individuals on our team who give back in their own way.

Here, we’d like to introduce you to a few of the efforts we’ve undertaken and organizations we’ve supported over the years. We hope that these stories can inspire you to do some good, too!


Care to Share Charity Program

Whether you’re a volunteer, a donor or a beneficiary, you can surely name at least one charity that has made a positive difference in your life.

There are literally thousands of charitable organizations doing important work in the Greater Toronto Area. As a local family-owned business, we have seen their impact on our communities first-hand.

Sadly, many of these organizations have urgent needs that are not being met. That’s why we started our Care to Share program.

Care to Share invites anyone in the community to tell us about a worthwhile charity and nominate them for a monetary donation. We revived the program in 2017 to celebrate our 85th anniversary. That December, AtlasCare made three cash donations totalling $8,500 to three worthwhile causes:

  1. Eagle’s Nest Association of Waterdown, which provides compassionate support and numerous services for local families in need.
  2. The Dale Ministries, which supports people experiencing poverty in Toronto’s Parkdale Community by providing free meals, drop-in programs and on-the-ground outreach.
  3. Scientists in School, which brings hands-on science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workshops to over 660,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 each year.

We had the privilege of meeting representatives from each of these organizations at our offices in Oakville. There, AtlasCare President Michael Grochmal and CEO Roger Grochmal presented each organization with funds in support of their essential services!



Everyone has a unique skill or expertise they can put toward helping a worthy cause. We encourage our staff to get involved in the community hands-on, and we often get together to volunteer together!

Earlier this year, we spent a day at the Compass Food Bank in Mississauga. Our duct cleaning technicians cleaned the facility’s duct system top-to-bottom, while the rest of the team helped to organize and prepare meals. We were thrilled to donate our services so that Compass could have cleaner air and a smoother-running HVAC system. The Compass Food Bank is always looking for more volunteers and donations of food and household essentials, so you should give them a call if you’re in the area!

The AtlasCare team has also been long-time volunteers and supporters of the Oakville-based charity SafetyNet. SafetyNet provides a wide range of services for kids and families, including free bicycles, clothing and household items. They also offer tutoring and music lessons for children who don’t have access to these services otherwise. We love volunteering at the SafetyNet warehouse, and just about anyone who wants to pitch in for a few hours can help with sorting donations! If you happen to musically or academically inclined, you can also make a big impact as a volunteer tutor or music instructor.

Fundraising and Sponsorship

We’re eager participants in a variety of local fundraisers – especially when we can take part as a team! In 2017, Roger and Michael Grochmal participated in Ovarian Cancer Canada’s Walk of Hope to help raise funds towards improving the lives of people living with ovarian cancer.

Our success as an HVAC and home services company has also given us the ability to sponsor organizations in the community. This year, we had the privilege of supporting  Burlington Soccer Club (Go Bayhawks!) as a sponsor. AtlasCare is also the Title Sponsor of the annual Golf Fore MS Classic event – a fundraiser golf tournament in support of our local chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada.

The funds raised at Golf Fore MS go towards helping to achieve two very important missions: researching the cause and cure of MS while providing services for local people affected by MS. Last year, our local Peel-Dufferin Chapter of the MS Society contributed $55,000 towards MS research and provided close to $60,000 in support to individuals in our community (including purchasing 63 pieces of equipment like wheelchairs and lifts.)

MS is a cause very close to our heart. It has affected the Grochmal family personally, along with many other families in our community. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, affecting an estimated 1 in 385 people and over 77,000 Canadians overall.

AtlasCare continues to be a lead organizer, title sponsor and participant in the Golf Fore MS tournament. It’s a wonderful way to honour the memory of our loved ones while raising money to support those who still live with MS.

We hope you’ll join us at the 2019 Golf Fore MS Classic on Wednesday, September 25th! You can learn more about the event or register online right here.


Education and Mentorship

We believe technical excellence comes from a commitment to continuous learning, whether it’s discovering new products or simply a better way to work. We’re also eager to encourage and nurture the next generation of HVAC professionals – which is why AtlasCare proudly supports skills competitions at technical colleges and through Skills Ontario.

AtlasCare has been involved with Skills Canada for many years.  Dick Thomas, our VP of Sales (and part of AtlasCare for over 40 years!) serves as the Skills co-chair for HVAC. He, along with our HR Coordinator Catherine Brelik, also lend their insight to several college advisory boards to help ensure young people learn the skills they need to succeed in our industry.

Dick also invited a group of local Scouts to AtlasCare’s offices to learn about trades in the mechanical fields. During their visit, the scouts got to see the rewards of a career in the trades!

Discover More About Our Culture

We couldn’t possibly fit all of our community engagement into one blog post, but you can learn all about us in the AtlasCare Culture Book! Here, you can see even more photos and stories about the things we do here at AtlasCare. Give it a look, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our company.


Why Your Home Insurance Might Not Cover Water Heater Damage

You know that home insurance is important. But are you completely certain that all your home’s systems are covered?

In our previous blog on home insurance, you learned of the various kinds of water damage that are and are not covered under the standard home insurance policy in Ontario. There, we talked about damage caused by burst pipes, leaky plumbing, spring flooding and sewer back-up.

One thing we didn’t cover in that article is another potential source of damage in your home: your hot water heater. Does home insurance cover water heater damage?

Why A Busted Water Heater Could Cost You Big

Although it isn’t mandatory here in Ontario, most banks and lenders will insist that you purchase and show proof of home insurance before they’ll approve you for a mortgage. It’s easy to understand why.

Home insurance can protect you from the costs of a fire, storm, or another unexpected disaster. It also represents peace of mind – the comfort of knowing that your family won’t have to be responsible for a major financial hardship in an already difficult situation.

Without this coverage, many of us would be forced to pay for the significant repair and replacement costs out-of-pocket.

But as you already know, home insurance doesn’t cover every kind of damage and disaster that can occur to your home. And recently, the list of exceptions has expanded to include certain water heaters.

Today, most basic home insurance policies no longer cover damage resulting from a water heater that has been installed for a certain number of years – often 10 years or more.

This means that if your water heater leaks, you could be financially responsible for fixing your basement and replacing your water-damaged belongings yourself.

Why Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover Water Heater Damage

How can insurance companies get away with not covering this type of damage? After all, a water heater is something every single home has.

To understand what’s going on here, it helps to explain what insurance companies mean when they talk about ‘insured perils.’

A peril is a chance event that is both unexpected and accidental. Most home insurance plans cover these types of events.

For example, suppose someone comes by and sprays graffiti on your garage door. Since this event wasn’t something you did on purpose, and you couldn’t reasonably predict that it would happen, your home insurance would likely cover the cost of this damage.

Vandalism is generally considered an insured peril. Other commonly insured perils include fire, lightning, theft, wind, hail, falling objects, vehicle impact and smoke from a malfunctioning appliance.

But what about a leaking water heater? Most storage tank water heaters hold 50 gallons, or around 200 litres, of water, which is more than enough to seriously damage your basement floor and any nearby belongings.

As far as most insurance companies are concerned, this is not an insured peril – at least if the unit is over a certain age. Here’s why.

As the name suggests, storage water heater units keep hot water in a tank to be available immediately when you need it. When you turn on the tap, hot water flows out of the tank and cold water flows into the tank to replace it. A thermostat controls the burner or electrical element that maintains the water’s temperature.

Over time, the corrosive minerals in the water can wear away at the tank’s metal components, including the valves and the walls of the tank itself. Storage water heaters do have measures in place to minimize corrosion (the anode rod, for example) but they still require regular maintenance to stay in top shape.

Unfortunately, so many people forget to have their water heater serviced. It is common to see water heaters leak or fail around the 10-12 year mark for exactly this reason.

This has led many insurance companies to view water heater failure after 10 years as an avoidable incident, not an insured peril.

How to Protect Yourself from Water Heater Damage

First thing’s first: if you ever notice your water heater leaking, shut it off right away! You can shut off the water valve near the unit or cut the main water valve in your basement. It’s important to know where to find these valves before it becomes an emergency!

Next, there are a few things you can do right now to avoid unexpected water heater expenses in the future.

  1. Call your home insurance provider to find out what your policy says. Some policies cover water damage to your home caused by a broken water heater, but not a replacement unit. Others only provide coverage for units installed or manufactured less than 10 years ago. It’s important to know where your policy stands.
  2. Check the age of your water heater. Most water heaters come with a certification plate that states the year of manufacture. If you have rented your water heater, check with your provider.
  3. Have your water heater serviced by a professional. This is especially important if your unit is approaching its 10th year. If it’s not in great shape, you should start thinking about a replacement before you find yourself with a soggy basement.

When it comes time to replace your water heater, there are several extra measures you can take to minimize the chance of water damage, including:

  • Install a leak detector that will automatically shut off the water intake valve when it detects a leak.
  • Install a water heater recovery plate under the new tank to contain any leaks that do occur.
  • Have your other basement appliances elevated off the floor to keep them from being damaged by low levels of flooding.
  • Drain the water heater storage tank any time you will be away from home for an extended period, especially in the winter. This will prevent the pipes from bursting if they freeze.
  • Invest in basement waterproofing.



Ontario Energy Rebates: Furnace & Air Conditioner Rebates You Can Get in 2019

Update: the provincial government has announced that the Save on Energy Heating and Cooling program is cancelled effective April 1st, 2019. We will leave the information in this post for reference and update this post as new rebates become available.

Ontario homeowners upgrading their heating systems or air conditioners in 2019 may be eligible for rebates under Ontario’s Save on Energy Heating and Cooling program. Improve your home’s energy-saving potential and save up to $850 by upgrading to a new high-efficiency furnace and ENERGY-STAR® certified central air conditioner.

With the Save on Energy program, homeowners can apply to:

  • Save up to $250 on a new furnace
  • Save up to $600 on an air conditioner
  • Save up to $4,000 on an air-source heat pump
  • Get a rebate of $50 on a smart thermostat
  • Get a rebate of $30 on a circulator pump


How it Works

Update: the provincial government has announced that the Save on Energy Heating and Cooling program is cancelled effective April 1st, 2019. We will leave the information in this post for reference and update this post as new rebates become available.

To be eligible for the heating & cooling program rebates, Ontario residents need to use a participating contractor to purchase and install the eligible equipment. If you live outside of our service area, you can find a local contractor by using the Save on Energy’s contractor locator.

After installation, your contractor will then submit your rebate application for you. Once you have confirmed your details and submitted your proof of purchase, receive your rebate cheque within 8 to 12 weeks.

High-Efficiency Furnace Rebates

With our cold and often long Ontario winters, you need a reliable heating system that keeps you warm and comfortable yet doesn’t drain your bank account.

With changes to your heating system can save up to 25% in heating costs in one year—plus get the comfort you can count on with a new high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® qualified natural gas furnace.

That’s piece-of-mind and more money in your pocket!

ENERGY-STAR® Certified Central Air Conditioner Rebates

Stay cool and comfortable during the hottest of summers with a new central air conditioner (CAC), while you save up to $600 with Ontario’s Save on Energy rebate. Get dependable performance and reduce your energy consumption with a new central air conditioner.

Check out our Spring BOGO: Buy a Lennox® Furnace, Get a Lennox® Air Conditioner FREE—available for a limited time!

Air-Source Heat Pump Rebates

Get a rebate of up to $4,000 for an air-source heat pump (ASHP) for homes where electricity is the main heating source. Unlike like many furnaces, heat pumps run instead on electricity. Heat pumps can provide air conditioning in the summer and work well in conjunction with your existing heating system in the winter.

Smart Thermostat Rebates

If you haven’t already jumped on the smart thermostat bandwagon, now is a good time to make that move and get your $50 rebate! Designer and user-friendly smart thermostats like the iComfort® S30 and the ecobee4 are designed to save you money by programing your ideal home heating and cooling temperatures.

Plus, whenever we install a thermostat, we take the extra time to help you understand and learn how to use it.

ECM Circulator Pumps

Using a circulator pump with electronically commutated motor (ECM) technology to circulate water in heating, air conditioning and hot water systems is highly efficient and can save you even more money. An energy-efficient pump seriously improves the energy profile of any home.


Note: the Save on Energy Heating and Cooling program is cancelled effective April 1st, 2019. We will leave the information in this post for reference and update this post as new rebates become available.


Image: KMR Photography

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 Happens When Your Furnace is Red Tagged in Ontario

It’s even worse than you thought.

You knew this could end in a big repair bill – it’s never a good sign when your furnace starts failing in the middle of January. You were even prepared to go without heat for a day while the service tech made the repairs.

But you never expected they would shut off your gas entirely.

Now, not only are you worried about the cost of fixing your furnace, you’re wondering how you’ll prevent your pipes from freezing and keep your family comfortable in the meantime

Here are the facts on red tags in Ontario: what they are, why they’re issued, the process for red tag removal, and how to get second opinion on a red-tagged appliance.

What is a ‘Red Tag’? What Does it Mean?

Here in Ontario, the use of gaseous fuels like natural gas is subject to rules in the Technical Standards and Safety Act and its Regulations. Certified licensed gas technicians, like those that work for service companies like AtlasCare, are required by law to follow these standards.

In some circumstances, this regulation will require a gasfitter to fill out a red tag.

So, what exactly is a red tag?

Warning tags, more commonly known as red tags, indicate that:

  1. A gas-powered appliance is in “unacceptable condition”; and
  2. The person responsible for that appliance (be it the owner, property manager or another occupant) must take action to fix the conditions.

Depending on the seriousness of the problem, the technician may also be required by law to shut off the supply of gas to the appliance. And it’s not only furnaces that can be red-tagged – any gas-powered appliance, including boilers, water heaters and gas dryer units, can also be the target of a warning tag.

Why Was My Appliance Red-Tagged?

Licensed certified gas technicians are required by law to red-tag an appliance they find in “unacceptable condition.” They have the discretion to determine whether a furnace (or another appliance) should be red tagged, and if so, which type of tag it should be (more on this in the next section).

What counts as “unacceptable condition”? If your furnace or water heater has been red-tagged, it could be because:

  1. It has been damaged or has deteriorated in a way that impairs its safe operation.
  2. There is an issue with the condition of its piping, tubing or hoses.
  3. It is being used for a purpose other than that which it was approved.
  4. It has been altered in a way that impairs its safe operation.

In the case of residential heating appliances, option A or B are the most likely issues – chances are, you haven’t altered your equipment or used it for some unusual purpose. In any case, you won’t have to guess, because the tag will state the reason why your appliance has been red tagged (and a good technician should have taken time to explain the issue.)

With furnaces, a cracked heat exchanger one of the most common reasons for red-tagging. The heat exchanger transfers heat energy to the circulating air while safely containing the by-products of combustion; when it’s cracked, there is a chance those by-products (like carbon monoxide) could leak.

What happens next depends on which type of red tag you have received.

Types of Red Tags: Unacceptable Condition vs. Immediate Hazard

Different gas companies’ red tags work the same way. They’re all based on the standards set out in the regulation, so an Enbridge red tag means the same thing as a red tag from Union Gas or another distributor.

What matters more is the category of tag you get.

There are possible types or ‘levels’ of red tags a technician can dispense: Category “A” (immediate) or Category “B” (30-day). The choice will determine whether the appliance can stay on while it is being repaired.

Immediate Red Tag/Warning Tag Category “A”:

  • Means the licensed technician has found that the appliance’s condition poses an immediate hazard.
  • Requires the technician to shut off the supply of gas to the appliance immediately.
  • Bars the appliance from being used again until the unsafe conditions have been fixed and proof has been received by the gas company.

30-Day Red Tag Warning Tag Category “B”:

  • Means the licensed technician has found the appliance in condition unacceptable but does not believe it poses an immediate hazard.
  • Includes an expiry date (30 days from the day of the tag) that sets the deadline for when the appliance must be fixed.
  • Requires the gas company to shut off gas to the appliance if they do not receive proof that the appliance has been fixed by the 30-day deadline.

In other words, red tag Category A means the licensed technician shuts off your gas before they leave; red tag Category B gives you an opportunity to have the appliance fixed before that happens.

What Are My Options for Red Tag Removal?

When a licensed gas technician deems your furnace unsafe to the point of “unacceptable condition”, they are required by law to slap on a red tag.

But that doesn’t mean your furnace is done for.

The process for red tag removal in Ontario is as follows.

1. Call a Technician

Have a licensed certified gas technician inspect the appliance and make repairs as needed. It does not need to be the same technician or service company that issued the red tag.

2. Have the Appliance Inspected

Ask the licensed technician to inspect the appliance for the faults identified in the red tag.

The tech can either agree with the red tag designation (and recommend a course of action) or determine that the appliance is already safe. If the appliance is safe to use, the licensed technician can complete the “clearance” portion of the red tag and re-activate the appliance.

3. Send the Clearance Portion of the Red Tag to the Gas Company

Once it is completed, make sure the gas company receives the red tag clearance before the deadline. A reputable service company will take care of this step for you.

You may have heard of service companies offering “second opinions” for red tags in Ontario. These services involve the same red tag removal process outlined above. A certified gas technician visits the home, inspects the appliance, and determines whether it is unsafe. If everything’s fine, the tech fills out the clearance and re-activates the appliance.

Should I Get a Red Tag Second Opinion?

In Ontario, if a licensed certified gas technician finds an appliance in “unacceptable condition”, they are required by law to give it a red tag. There’s no room for argument.

What can be questioned is the conclusion of “unacceptable condition.” That’s where second opinions come in.

There are many cases where homeowners might rightfully question the technician’s call. Sometimes, the furnace gets red-tagged by one service company only weeks after it was serviced by another. Other times, the technician issued the tag without doing a thorough inspection or a proper combustion analysis.

Having your furnace red-tagged can be devastating. It puts you in the difficult position of weighing the cost of repairing a supposedly-dangerous appliance with the cost of replacing it outright, all while you and your family go without central heat.

If your furnace gets red-tagged, it always pays to have a second opinion from a servicer you trust. In a best-case scenario, the technician can remove the tag on the spot – otherwise, they can at least provide sound advice on whether you should repair or replace.

Remember you have the right to ask a technician for a copy of their license to prove they are certified.

For homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, you can call or contact us for a free quote on red tag second opinion services from AtlasCare.

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy HVAC Parts and Equipment Online

When it comes to big purchases, how often do you check to see if you can find the item cheaper online?

Nowadays, it’s practically second nature to look up prices on the Internet before we buy. There are dozens of apps and websites dedicated to helping us do just that.

In many ways, the Internet has been a boon to consumers. It increases transparency on pricing and provides a wealth of information to help us make well-informed choices about how we spend our hard-earned cash.

However, this wealth of information can sometimes lead us down the wrong path.

Since the arrival of sites like eBay and Amazon, we occasionally receive calls from homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area who want us to install equipment or parts they have purchased online. Other times, we’ll be asked if we can source parts and equipment more cheaply from third-party reseller websites.

In both cases, the answer is no: AtlasCare will not install consumer-supplied parts equipment, nor use parts and equipment from a seller we don’t know.

Why not?

Below, we’ll explain why we don’t recommend buying HVAC parts and equipment online, and why AtlasCare declines to work with those parts.

1. Finding the Right Part for the Job Isn’t Easy

Suppose a service technician inspects your air conditioner, finds out what’s wrong, and quotes the necessary repairs at $800.00, including $450.00 for the cost of replacement parts.

Later, you search the parts on eBay and find them available for a fraction of that.

Why not buy the parts now, and have another technician install them later?

It seems simple enough, but shopping for HVAC and finding the right part for the job isn’t as simple as searching for it online. Many components look similar but are not compatible with all system makes and models. Parts are easily miscategorized or mislabelled.

2. The Trouble with Warranties

To most of us, a new furnace or air conditioner is a significant financial investment – one intended to last for years and years.

Warranties are vital in protecting that investment.

However, many manufacturers do not honour warranties on parts and equipment purchased directly by the consumer from a non-certified distributor.

There are valid reasons for these kinds of policies: manufacturers don’t want consumers to take on the risks of installing equipment themselves, and the return rate tends to be higher for products purchased online.

In addition to these consumer-sourced parts not being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, just installing non-warrantied parts can void the warranty of your existing equipment.

When we install parts and equipment, we want to make sure our consumers are protected in the event of a problem. That’s why our equipment comes with an Unconditional Warranty. However, we cannot provide the same assurance with consumer-supplied parts.

3. No Recourse for Defective Parts

One of the benefits of sourcing our parts and equipment from trusted suppliers is the recourse it gives our customers in the event of a manufacturing defect.

To start, our technicians have enough familiarity with our products to notice many defects before the equipment even leaves our warehouse. We can then have the equipment replaced as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, consumers who purchase parts over the internet may not have the same eye for defects.

Worse, consumers who source parts from resellers have little to no recourse if the equipment turns out to be defective.

Even in a best-case scenario (the seller provides a replacement at no cost), the consumer still pays more than twice the normal service cost: once for initial installation, again for removal of the defective equipment, and a final appointment to install the replacement equipment.

4. Cheaper Equipment Can Have Unexpected Costs

If you found a site selling the latest iPhone for a mere $100 – no strings attached – you’d probably raise an eyebrow.

When an expensive item is suddenly available for cheap, there is probably a reason for it.

In the case of HVAC parts and equipment, there are several possibilities:

  • The equipment could have been opened once already, meaning it could be damaged or missing small parts.
  • The equipment could be counterfeit and lacking the minimum quality and safety standards set by the original manufacturer.
  • The equipment may have been salvaged and refurbished for resale.

If you want to guarantee you’re getting reliable, high-quality parts and equipment, a certified distributor is the only way to go.

5. There Are Better Ways to Save

It’s understandable that someone would consider buying their own equipment only and hiring someone to install it. Energy isn’t cheap, and we’d all like to save wherever we can.

However, buying equipment online isn’t the right way to save.

Instead, use that internet browser to search for rebates on heating and cooling equipment in Ontario – including the Save on Energy rebates offered by the IESO and manufacturer rebates through trusted names like Lennox.

Your installation will always go smoother when it involves warrantied, distributor-certified parts and a qualified installer you trust.


What is the Best Time of Year to Get a Furnace Tune-up? (and other important Q&As)

There’s no bad time to get your furnace inspected—ideally though before any cold weather hits. It is good idea to do it AFTER a season of use, since much of the maintenance is based on what the homeowner notices while using it. You’ll have plenty of time to get any repairs done or replace it before the first frost.


Why is it important to have regular furnace tune-ups?

When thinking of home maintenance, having a furnace tune-up may not be top-of-mind. Though much like a car, if you ignore it, a lot more things tend to break down, and repair costs could quickly start to add up. You get an oil change for your car whenever you need it, since you know that it will prolong the life of your car. Furnace maintenance is the same.

I just had a new furnace installed last year. Does it need a tune-up?

Many people think that if they put in a new system, they don’t need regular maintenance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Records of regular maintenance validates your current or extended manufacturer’s warranty and preserves the longevity of your new furnace.

How long does a furnace tune-up take?

Furnace tune-ups generally take about an hour to complete. Taking the time that is necessary to have a scheduled tune-up, even if it is working fine, will save you time, stress, and money in the long run.

What are the benefits of regular furnace tune-ups?

  • Reduce your energy bill by up to 30%
  • Your furnace will last longer
  • Prevent major breakdowns
  • Maintain your warranty
  • Will help keep your family safe and warm

How will a furnace tune-up keep me safe?

Furnaces produce heat through burning fuel, and it is important to ensure that this combustion process is efficient. A problem in the system could potentially cause a gas leak which can be very dangerous. An unchecked furnace also runs the risk of carbon monoxide leaks. Having annual furnace check-ups can detect any of these potential health and safety risks.

What can I expect from a furnace tune-up?

Qualified furnace technicians will run through a diagnostics and safety checklist covering everything from CO emissions, thermostats, fans, leakages, as well as checking and lubricating any moving parts. A full inspection is performed to check all working parts of your furnace and duct system. Any concerns will be addressed at this time.

Is there anything I can do to prolong the life of my furnace?

Along with scheduling regular furnace tune-ups, you can ensure your system is running as it should by:

  1. Replace your 1” furnace filter every 90 days.
  2. Replace your 4” or 5” furnace filter 1-2x per year – depending on household habits.
  3. Checking your thermostat and replacing its battery regularly.
  4. Making sure your air vents are open.

How long can I expect my furnace to last?

Depending on use, with regular maintenance you can expect your furnace to run between 10 to 15 years. One of the main reasons for early replacement is poor maintenance.

If you’re in the market for a furnace tune-up, contact us today for a quote!