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Section 98 - Why Wait to React?

Townhouse units (and sometimes other types of units) are often heated centrally through the use of a forced air gas furnace. In older condominiums, it was common to find mid-efficiency furnaces vented through a chimney that exited through the roof of the unit. If the unit owner desired to replace a mid-efficiency furnace with one that is high-efficiency, appropriate air intake and exhaust tubing would need to be installed, exiting from the front, rear or sides of the unit. Such venting is typically required to be installed away from windows and other avenues of air intake in the unit. [1] 

Given that mid-efficiency furnaces are no longer available, it should be a given that any condominium unit with a mid-efficiency furnace will eventually have to convert to a high-efficiency furnace. Accordingly, the replacement of the chimney (used for the mid-efficiency furnace) with the intake and exhaust venting pipes (used for the high-efficiency furnace) is likely inevitable. [2]

In view of the above, why do conflicts still arise regarding unit owners who have proceeded to install high efficiency gas furnaces that, in some form or another, offend the Board of Directors, and by extension, the Corporation?

In many cases, the answer has to do with “reacting” to situations versus acting proactively.

Particularly in this case, acting proactively is only logical:

1. Proactively, the Corporation can put in place the necessary “bulk” or “multi-party” Section 98 Agreement to address the necessary alteration(s) to the common elements required in the course of installing a high-efficiency furnace.[3]

2. Proactively, the Board of Directors, together with property management, can establish policies dealing with the installation of the venting pipes. Specifically, the Board and management can take steps to determine where the venting pipes would most appropriately be placed so as to comply with all technical requirements (i.e. away from windows) as well as all aesthetic considerations (i.e. away from the front entry door of the unit).

3. Perhaps most importantly, by proactively addressing this issue, the Board and Management are managing the potential for conflict in a way that will minimize overall cost to the community (if for no other reason than avoiding a single legal dispute), and will reinforce, in the eyes of unit owners, the competence of those elected, and/or contracted to manage the condominium property.


[1] Any technical requirements concerning furnace installation within this article are given purely as examples and are obviously beyond the scope of the writer’s qualification. Please contact your engineer or other furnace professional for appropriate installation guidelines.

[2] Another alteration to be considered jointly with the installation of a high-efficiency furnace would be the installation of an on-demand gas water heater which would similarly require appropriate ducting to be installed.

[3] It would likely not be considered reasonable for the Corporation to deny this type of alteration given that mid-efficiency furnaces are no longer available.  


By Richard A. Elia - October 2013
B. Comm, LL.B., LL.M (ADR), A.C.C.I.

Ext.  801
E-Mail:  richard@elia.org
Toll-Free: 1-866-446-0811


All of the information contained in this article is of a general nature for informational purposes only, and is not intended to represent the definitive opinion of the firm of Elia Associates on any particular matter. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this newsletter is accurate and up-to-date, the reader should not act upon it without obtaining appropriate professional advice and assistance.