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.

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.


5 Stress-free Ways to be a Better Holiday Host

As the holidays approach, your calendar may be filling up fast. All the Christmas-shopping and gift-wrapping can leave you with little time to prepare for holiday hosting. There are many ways to be a great host, but we’ve created a list of things you may have overlooked in planning a safe, comfortable, and above-all memorable party.

Here’s what every host needs to know to throw a stress-free soiree this holiday season.

Prep Now, Stress Never

Begin planning before life gets busy. The holidays can be hectic, with school concerts, recitals, staff Christmas parties, volunteering, and family gatherings leaving little to no time to organize.

  • Send out your invites now! Sending out invitations early also allows your guests to plan ahead and mark the date in their calendars before they fill up.
  • Two weeks before the gathering, you should follow up with guests who have yet to confirm. You should also ensure your home is ready for visitors. Do you have enough coat hangers and place settings?
  • On the days leading up to your event, be sure to plan a menu, clean your home, and do the grocery haul. That way, once the special day comes around, you won’t be joining crowds of holiday shoppers as they swarm the grocery stores.

Make Sure Your Home is Welcoming

Make sure your home is welcoming to everyone, including those with allergies and environmental sensitives. Be prepared by asking your guests in advance if they have any allergies that you should be aware of and can accommodate to.

Ventilators, humidifiers, and purifiers all help to ensure the air you’re breathing at home is the best quality possible. When preparing for a big holiday get-together, make sure you have some type of air purification installed.

A proper air filtration system is one of the most important aspects of indoor air quality. Air purifiers remove unwanted particles from the air, which is especially important during cold and flu season. An air filtration system will also protect your furnace and HVAC system by keeping them working at high efficiency and saving you money in energy costs.

Create a Comfortable Atmosphere for Guests

Air quality is important, but so is a cozy and inviting home. It’s part of hosting the perfect holiday party that surely does not go unnoticed by guests.

One of the best ways to ensure a comfortable and relaxing space is a cozy fireplace: equal parts heat source and fond gathering place. While wood stoves offer an authentic feel, gas fireplaces offer the same benefits at the click of a button.

To ensure your fireplace is safe:

  • Have your fireplace serviced and the chimney cleaned frequently.
  • Schedule an annual fireplace inspection with a professional.
  • Keep stockings, blankets and other holiday décor away from the fireplace.

Set the Scene

Now for the fun part! Don’t underestimate the power of ambiance.

  • Set up a hot cocoa bar and drape doors and entryways with lights. There’s nothing more enchanting than the glow of Christmas lights.
  • Go with a well-mixed playlist with a variety of musical genres that suits the space.
  • Win over your guests with a festive scent. Create a seasonal essential oil blend using cinnamon, peppermint, clove and orange, or opt for a festive spicy scented candle to tap into your guest’s olfactory systems. Just make sure the scent isn’t too strong and that it is as natural as possible.

Prepare for Overnight Guests

You may have planned for overnight guests, or your guests may be forced to spend the night due to weather. Either way, you’ll want to make sure your fridge is stocked just in case.

If you plan on having overnight guests for the holidays, consider upgrading to a tankless water heater – this guarantees you’ll never run out of hot water again. You won’t have to worry about the poor person last in line for the bathroom ending up with a cold shower.

Another tip for a cozy space? Pile on the bedding.

Ready for the Holidays?

In the last few moments before the guests arrive, light some candles, pour yourself a cocktail and take a few moments to yourself. Planning a holiday party shouldn’t feel overwhelming and stressful – it should be fun and exciting! By preparing early, and following your holiday party checklist, you’ll be sure to enjoy the party as much as your guests.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for a last-minute duct cleaning, fireplace fix or furnace tune-up. Our technicians are on call 24/7 throughout the year, even on Christmas Day!

Winter Vacation Checklist: How to Prepare and Protect Your Home in Canada

Planning an extended winter vacation?

Whether you’re fleeing to warmer climates or hitting the ski slopes, it’s not too soon to start preparing your home for the trip.

This winter vacation checklist is designed for Canadian homeowners to help ensure your home is safe in the event of a blizzard or a blackout. We’ve also included a few points on home security so you can fly south with peace of mind.

Winter Vacation Checklist: What to Do One Month Before Departure

1. Ask a Friend to Keep Watch

Arrange to have a friend or neighbour take care of your vacant home. The task may be as simple as dropping by to check on things or shovelling the driveway to make the house look lived-in. In any case, the sooner you ask, the better!

Don’t forget to leave your house-sitter a list of your preferred service providers in the event of furnace trouble or storm damage.


  • Having a friend stop in ensures that problems with the furnace or plumbing will not go unnoticed. That’s important if your home doesn’t have a Wi-Fi connected smart thermostat or a leak sensor to keep you informed.
  • For home security purposes, it’s important to show signs of activity in and around the house. Asking a friend to visit periodically makes your home look occupied.


2. Stop Mail Delivery

Leaving for a week or longer? Consider contacting Canada Post to put a temporary hold on mail delivery to your home. It must be done at least five business days before you plan to put delivery on pause.


 Letters and flyers piling up in your mailbox signals to everyone that your home is vacant, which is a safety concern.

  • In a typical Canadian winter, any letters left in the mailbox for more than a day are likely to get soggy and ruined.


3. Inform Home Insurer of the Vacation

No, we’re not talking about travel insurance – we mean home insurance. Not all insurance policies are alike, and you’ll want to make sure yours provides the coverage you need.



One Week Before Departure

4. Store Outdoor Furniture Indoors

Put away patio chairs, tables and anything else in your yard that could be toppled by a strong wind. The same goes for your BBQ.


  • Leaving these items out in the elements could leave them susceptible to damage.
  • If the wind bowls over your backyard furniture and no one picks it up, it’s a clear sign that nobody’s home.

5. Make Plans for Pets (and Houseplants)

Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your beloved pets are well cared for while you’re off!  Might as well make arrangements for your potted plants – after all, they need care and attention, too.


  • Well-established pet-sitters and kennels often book weeks in advance. The longer you wait, the more difficult (and expensive) it will be to find a reputable caregiver you trust.
  • There are lots of ways to keep plants watered for an extended time, but it’s best to test out the effectiveness of these methods before using them for real.


One Day Before Departure

6. Clean Out Your Fridge, Take Out the Trash, and Seal Up Remaining Food

Empty the dishwasher and take out the garbage before you leave on vacation. If you plan to be gone for more than a week, clear out the fridge and move non-refrigerated foods to airtight containers.

You can also unplug the refrigerator to save energy once it’s empty (be sure to leave the door ajar to prevent moisture build-up.)


  • Your home could lose power for an extended time while you’re away, causing food in your fridge and freezer to sit unrefrigerated for days and spoil.
  • Leaving garbage out attracts mice and other pests to your home.
  • Emptying the bins and the dishwasher ensures you won’t return home to an off-smelling kitchen.


7. Unplug All Appliances and Electronic Devices You Don’t Need to Leave On

Chances are there are 25 or more such devices in your home, including computers, televisions, tablets, and digital alarm clocks.


  • Any device left plugged in on sleep or standby mode consumes electricity. Though small, this consumption adds up to about 10% of the average Canadian’s energy bill.
  • Expensive electronics, like TVs and computers, could fall victim to a power surge in the onset of a blackout.
  • Though small, leaving electrical devices unattended for long periods does increase the risk of fire.


8. Set a Lighting Timer

Set a programmable outlet timer or a smart lighting system to switch on the lights inside your home in the evenings. Choose the lights in one or more rooms with street-facing windows.


  • Having the lights flick on creates the illusion that your home is occupied, deterring burglars after dark.
  • Using a timer saves you the energy cost of leaving the lights on all night and day. The on/off cycle also appears more natural to onlookers than a light left on 24/7.


Day of Departure

9. Turn Down the Heat

Set your thermostat to 55°F/16°C. That’s warm enough to minimize the risk of pipes freezing (see the next point) while keeping energy costs low. Be sure to raise the temperature accordingly if pets are staying behind!



10. Winterize Your Home’s Plumbing

Use the main water shutoff valve (usually found in your furnace room or basement) to turn off the flow to your pipes, then open all the faucets one-by-one to drain them. Then, close all but one.


  • Should your house lose heat during your vacation, water inside the pipes could freeze and expand, causing the pipes to burst. Failing to winterize your home’s plumbing properly can lead to very costly repairs.
  • Leaving one faucet open prevents pressure from building up from any water remaining inside the pipes.


11. Turn on Water Heater’s Vacation Mode or Drain and Shut Off

Many water heaters now come equipped with a ‘vacation mode’ setting that reduces its energy consumption while heating the water just enough to prevent pipes from freezing. If yours has one, you may switch it on – otherwise, have the tank drained and shut down for your vacation.

Note that if you do drain and shut off the water heater, you must allow the tank to refill before firing it up again – running on an empty tank can damage the unit.


  • Since the water heater will not be in use, it isn’t necessary to keep it running at a shower-ready temperature.
  • Some homeowners prefer the peace of mind that comes with draining and shutting down the tank entirely since it ensures the water will not freeze if the heater loses power and the house goes cold.


12. Close and Lock All Doors and Windows

Visit each room in the house one-by-one to check that the windows are fully shut and locked. Don’t forget basement windows and skylights!


  • A window left even a tiny bit ajar can let blowing rain and snow into your home – not to mention rodents trying to escape the cold.

Any open doors and windows are a potential entry-point for home invaders.

Most Important Amenities for Home Buyers in 2018

Home and garden shows might lead you to believe the top priorities for home buyers are things like quartz countertops and herringbone floors. In reality, most buyers in Toronto and beyond aren’t all that fixated on things like décor. A recent survey confirms what we in the home comfort business already knew: the most important amenities for home buyers are things that provide practical, long-lasting benefits.

In 2018, the top five non-negotiable amenities for home buyers were:

  1. Heating and air conditioning
  2. Private outdoor space
  3. Guest bedroom
  4. Walk-in closets
  5. Home orientation (the direction the house faces)

Here’s what this data means for homeowners looking to make upgrades in the next few years.

1. Central Air Conditioning and Heating

We confess that furnaces and air conditioners aren’t as exciting as pools or countertops. However, the survey results are clear: 82% of home buyers consider these amenities mandatory.

In fact, buyers would spend an average of $4,951 more on a home with central heating and air than one without it.

With proper maintenance, furnaces and air conditioners can provide reliable service for over a decade. Potential buyers enjoy not having to worry about replacing a newly-installed HVAC system.

Quality heating and cooling equipment don’t come cheap, but homeowners in Ontario can benefit from rebates on heating and cooling equipment through Save on Energy. Our long-time supplier Lennox also offers lucrative rebates, including this fantastic furnace/AC bundle.

2. Private Patio or Backyard

Space comes at a premium in the GTA. Lot sizes are shrinking, and townhouses are increasingly sold with little to no private backyard space.

Regardless, home buyers aren’t ready to give up on the dream of a big backyard, and more than half of them still consider having their own outdoor space non-negotiable. The survey showed that a private patio or backyard could boost the value of a home by $5902.

Soon-to-be sellers can’t add additional outdoor space where none existed before, but they can take steps to make their backyard as presentable as possible.

3. Guest Bedroom

Guest bedrooms hold all kinds of potential. For some homeowners, it represents extra storage space; to others, it’s the opportunity to share the holidays with the people they care for most.

In any case, a guest bedroom is high on the list of amenities home buyers were looking for in 2018. Almost 42% saw it as a must-have feature.

A comfortable guest room can increase the value of a home in the eyes of these buyers by approximately $4527.

4. Walk-In Closets

Walk-in closets are no longer a luxury; they’re a given. Most newer houses include a walk-in master bedroom closet, and according to the survey, 32.2% of home buyers would walk away from homes without one.

Although walk-in closets are rare in older construction, it’s often possible to add one with a bit of remodelling. The same goes for heritage homes and central air conditioning.

5. Home Orientation

Pop quiz: what direction does your home face?

That question was certainly on the minds of home buyers in 2018.

A home’s orientation affects much more than its view; it also has an impact on energy efficiency. Seasonal sun and wind patterns can increase or decrease heating and cooling costs. Maybe that’s why 31.7% of home buyers paid close attention to the direction a house faces.

Appealing to Home Buyers

Some homeowners hold off on upgrading their furnace and air conditioner if they plan on selling. After all, what’s the point of paying for an upgrade you’ll only enjoy for a few years? But the results of this survey are a strong counterargument.

It’s clear that central heating and air conditioning are among the most important amenities to potential home buyers. Upgrading is more than an investment in your family’s comfort; it’s a big boost to the value of your home in the eyes of a buyer.

If you’re thinking of installing a new furnace or air conditioner in the GTA, the AtlasCare team is happy to help. Call us or send us a message any time.

Step-by-Step Guide to Closing Your Air Conditioner for Winter

With the forecast calling for a milder-than-usual fall, it’s likely many of us will leave closing the air conditioner in Toronto until late in the fall. But don’t be fooled — winter is coming. Don’t let it catch you before you’ve had a chance to close the air conditioner for winter.

We’ve written a step-by-step guide to closing your air conditioner for the winter in Ontario. Many of these tasks are things homeowners can do by themselves, but you can always call us if you need a hand.

How to Close the Air Conditioner for Winter

Like any responsible supplier, we’ll never install a central air conditioner in Toronto that can’t handle a Canadian winter. However, there are a few steps you should take to ensure your system will not come on during the winter and has adequate protection from the elements.

To close an air conditioner for the winter:

  1. Turn off the air conditioning at the thermostat.
  2. Shut off power to the air conditioner.
  3. Replace or clean the air filter.
  4. Wash the outdoor condenser unit and clear away any debris.
  5. Inspect the condenser and exterior pipes for signs of wear.
  6. Cover the air conditioner with a properly-fitted cover, if necessary.

1. Turn Off the Air Conditioning at the Thermostat

Locate your thermostat and switch the air conditioning from On or Auto mode to Off.

If you have a smart Wi-Fi thermostat like the ecobee or Lennox iComfort models, you can perform this step using your mobile device!

2. Shut Off Power to the Air Conditioner

Since we’re expecting a milder fall, it’s important that your air conditioner doesn’t switch on during a brief warm spell (or turn on accidentally from someone bumping the thermostat).

Find the power switch near the outdoor condenser unit (it’s often mounted to the wall, hidden beneath a flip lid) and flip it to the Off position. Doing this will prevent the air conditioner from coming on for any reason during the winter.

It also saves energy by reducing your home’s phantom power load.

3. Replace or Clean the Air Filter

Central air conditioners use mechanical air filters to keep dust, pollen, and other indoor air particles out of circulation. These filters play an important role in improving indoor air quality.

Replacing the air conditioner’s filter (or cleaning it, if it is reusable) is something that should be done every three months of use. Since you’re working on your air conditioning system already, we recommend doing it now to save yourself the trouble next summer.

4. Wash the Outdoor Condenser Unit

Air conditioner condensers are built to protect the internal components from dirt, brush, and other outdoor debris. However, some debris always finds a way in, and it’s important not to leave it sitting there all winter long.

Use a garden hose to wash away dirt and leaves. Pick up any sticks that have fallen on or around the unit. Be careful not to bend any of the coils; if your air conditioner needs a deep clean, it may be worth calling a professional to help.

Check off the next item on the list while waiting for the air conditioner to dry completely.

5. Inspect the Condenser and Exterior Pipes

Do you spot any cracks, rust, leakage, or other damage? If so, you’ll want to take care of it before winter comes. Otherwise, the harsh weather will make those problems much worse come spring.

6. Cover the Air Conditioner with a Properly-Fitted Cover (if Necessary)

Should you cover your air conditioner for the winter? That’s a hotly-debated question. Some air conditioner installers swear by it, while others say that covering an air conditioner does more harm than good. What’s the truth?

On the one hand, a cover will protect the air conditioner from falling ice or branches during a harsh winter storm. However, an improperly-fitted cover can trap moisture and result in damage to the unit’s wiring and circuitry. Covers can also attract pests seeking shelter from the cold.

In general, it’s best only to use a cover designed by the air conditioner’s manufacturer to fit that specific model of air conditioner. Many homeowners go years without using a cover and report no issues. It’s an optional step here in Ontario.

Is Your Air Conditioner Ready for Winter?

As always, our team is happy to answer any questions you may have about air conditioner maintenance and service. Give us a call or send us a message if you’d like to inquire about your central air conditioner in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area.

5 Things To Do Before Turning On The Furnace This Winter

Natural gas furnaces are commonplace here in the Greater Toronto Area. With proper care and maintenance, these heating systems are clean, efficient, and perfectly safe. Regardless, there are steps you should take now to ensure your family is safe and warm when the temperature falls.

Here are 5 things we recommend you do before turning on the furnace this winter.

Furnace Safety Checklist

Planning to fire up the furnace soon? Be sure to take these steps before you do:

  1. Replace or clean the furnace filter.
  2. Clean and tidy the area around the furnace.
  3. Open the registers and move any obstructions.
  4. Test your carbon monoxide detector.
  5. Set the thermostat.

We’ll expand on each of these points below.

We also recommend having your gas furnace serviced annually. Along with ensuring safety and efficiency, preventative furnace maintenance is key to preventing costly furnace repairs.

1. Replace or Clean the Furnace Filter

When the furnace draws air from your home, it also pulls in the tiny particles that populate the air: specks of dust, pet dander, pollen, and other airborne allergens. That’s why gas furnaces are equipped with a mechanical air filter. The filter traps particles and takes them out of circulation.

It doesn’t take long for the filter to fill up with dirt and debris; one look at this photo of a furnace filter after three months will tell you. If the filter is not replaced after three months (or cleaned, in the case of an aluminium or plastic mesh) it begins to cut the air flow and reduce the furnace’s efficiency.

Start fresh with a clean filter before turning on the furnace this winter.

2. Clean and Tidy the Area Around the Furnace

It happens that furnaces tend to be installed in parts of our homes that are prone to accumulate clutter.

It’s not unusual for our technicians to find the furnace crowded by boxes, suitcases and laundry bins while on a call for furnace repair in Toronto and the GTA. All that clutter makes it harder to perform necessary maintenance.

In many cases, clutter is also a safety issue. Objects hanging near the furnace or leaning against it can reduce airflow. Cleaning products stored nearby can emit fumes that get drawn in and circulated throughout the home. Combustibles like paint or varnish are a serious fire hazard.

Before you turn on the furnace, make sure it has enough breathing room. Check the manual or ask your service technician how much clearance the system requires.

3. Open the Registers and Remove Obstructions

Take a walk through each room in your house to ensure the vents are open and nothing is blocking the flow of air. Common culprits for airflow obstructions include curtains, furniture, rugs, and clothing (especially if your kids are prone to miss the laundry hamper).

Simple as it is, this step is important in ensuring your system can distribute heat evenly and operate efficiently.

4. Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless by-product of gas-fired appliances like furnaces and water heaters. A properly-installed and well-maintained furnace produces minimal CO and vents it safely outside the home.

Although the risk is small, it’s vital to ensure your carbon monoxide detectors are ready to warn you in the event of a leak. Some fire officials also recommend using a backup plug-in unit in addition to the ones permanently installed in your home.

If you’re not sure how to test your carbon monoxide alarms, or are unsure where to find them, contact your local Fire Department.

5. Set the Thermostat

Heating accounts for a whopping 62% of the average Canadian’s energy costs. One of the simplest and most powerful ways to reduce that cost is to turn down the heat when you don’t need it.

Most homes now have a programmable thermostat that can adjust the temperature automatically at set intervals; many now have a smart Wi-Fi thermostat that enables even greater control. In either case, lowering the temperature a few degrees for just a few hours a day can cut your energy use by 8% or more.

Worried about frozen water pipes? Keep the indoor temperature above 13°C.

Have You Had Your Furnace Serviced?

Some furnace problems are harder to spot than others. A bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way in preventing those minor issues from becoming a major headache down the road. That’s why we recommend having your furnace serviced annually.

Furnace breakdowns are not only inconvenient; if you don’t have an annual service plan, they can be expensive as well. Major repairs are the last thing you need on mind in the busy holiday season.

A neglected furnace can also put your family at considerable risk. Poorly-maintained piping and wear-and-tear increases the risk of fire and carbon monoxide leaks.

AtlasCare is always there for furnace service and maintenance throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Call us or leave us a message to inquire about having your furnace serviced today. We’ll get in touch as soon as we can.

8 Things to Do In Ontario This Fall

Sometimes, it feels like fall comes and goes in the blink of an eye. By the time you’ve settled into the back-to-school routine, Thanksgiving is already here, with Halloween just ahead and holiday shopping on the horizon. But there’s still time to do your fall maintenance tasks, prepare your home for winter, and enjoy the gifts this season has to offer.


Don’t forget to add these to your fall to-do list.

1. Clean Up the Yard

A little effort now will save you lots of work come springtime. Layer up and head outside to take care of fall yard maintenance before it gets chilly and damp.

    • Clear out fallen leaves and sticks from the rain gutters so water can drain from your roof properly come winter. This step can save you from an expensive roof repair bill following a winter storm.
    • Have dead or weakened limbs removed from trees near your house to prevent them from snapping under the weight of snow and
    • Sweep up the garden bed and compost any annuals that are on their way out.
    • Clean up the area in and around your air conditioner when you close the unit for winter.

2. Have Your Ducts Cleaned

When you fire up the furnace for the first time this year, it can stir up dust and other particles that were sitting in your air ducts all summer, which can trigger allergy symptoms and make your home feel staler.

While not necessary every year, we do recommend having your air ducts cleaned every few years to improve indoor air quality and ensure your furnace operates efficiently.

3. Visit a Fall Fair

It’s heartening to know that kids today are as enthralled as we were by sounds, sights, and bright lights of the fair midway. Visiting a fall fair is a great experience for children who don’t often get a taste of the countryside. Even if you can’t catch a fall fair in October, there’s still a chance to see the amazing Royal Winter Fair at the beginning of November.

4. Get Your Furnace Ready

The forecast calls for a mild winter, but even the gentlest winters in Ontario are still wet, slushy, and cold. It’s always better to book a furnace inspection in the fall rather than to discover a problem after the temperature drops. We use a 25-point furnace inspection checklist to ensure that every piece of the system is working as it should.

5. Go to the Farmer’s Market

In many places, the month of October is your last chance to indulge in freshly-picked produce and freshly-baked goods at the farmer’s market. We’re fortunate to be surrounded by thousands of small, family-owned farms in the Greater Toronto Area, and this is a great way to support what they do. Now’s the time to stock up for the holidays – cranberries and apple pie are both in season!

6. Book a Fireplace Inspection

Looking forward to switching on the gas fireplace this winter? Add a fireplace inspection to your fall schedule. Like the rest of your heating and cooling system, gas fireplaces should be serviced annually to ensure they run as safely as efficiently as possible. A service technician can also clean the fireplace to make it look good as new for the holidays.

7. Take a Winery Tour

If you’ve never taken a trip to Ontario’s wine country, fall is the perfect season to do it. It’s something everyone living in Southern Ontario should do at least once. Prince Edward County and the Niagara Region have some of the finest wineries in Canada, and there are plenty of tours to choose from.

8. Check Your Fire Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

This is something everyone should do at the onset of each new season, but it’s especially important in the winter. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases in the winter from the use of gas-fired heating systems. Test your alarm and replace it according to the manufacturer’s instructions (the usual lifetime of a carbon monoxide detector is five to seven years.)