< Browse more articles

Readers will recall that HRAI spent a great deal of time early in 2017 in conversation with homebuilders, contractors, utilities and regulators in Ontario with the goal of settling on an acceptable process for implementing the manufacturers’ ban on the use of gas furnaces for construction heat that was announced early in 2016 and took effect May 1, 2017.  The goal was to help TSSA – Ontario’s fuel safety regulator -- determine the proper application and interpretation of the new restriction in the field.  This included defining the stage in the construction process when it would be deemed acceptable to activate a furnace.

Late in the spring, stakeholders came to a consensus that, once the drywall has been installed and primed in a home, it would be deemed acceptable to have a procedure in place to activate the furnace, but only if some additional conditions are met, most importantly the installation of a MERV 11 filter at the return on the furnace.  Furnace manufacturers accepted this compromise. To formalize this arrangement, a sign-off form for activation of the furnace was developed by the gas utilities in consultation with HVAC contractors and homebuilders. See Enbridge Residential Finishing Heat Activation Form and Union Gas Finishing Heat Activation Form for copies of the forms that will be used by these utilities.

As the regulator having jurisdiction in Ontario, TSSA accepted this activation process and agreed to generate an Industry Advisory to guide industry on their expectations around inspections.  TSSA spent several months over the summer formalizing the requirements in consultation with the gas utilities and late in September issued advisory FS-232-17 “Furnaces used for Construction and Finishing Heat”.

At the same time, TSSA also agreed to recommend the solution arrived at in Ontario (and accepted by manufacturers) to regulatory bodies in other provinces, through its involvement in the Canada-wide Interprovincial Gas Advisory Council (IGAC).

Because new home inspection processes vary from one provincial jurisdiction to the next, the approach being taken by other provinces to this issue also varies.  The Province of Alberta is in the process of rolling out a STANDATA Gas Safety Information Bulletin (DRAFT only, this document still requires Ministerial approval) which is intended to guide municipal inspection authorities.  Manitoba Hydro, responsible for fuel safety inspections in Manitoba, recently announced its approach as well, which will include a single-step inspection process that (provided certain conditions are met) will deem a new home to be finished for gas inspection purposes, at the post drywall priming stage.

HRAI will continue to monitor the implementation of these and other inspection protocols across the country as the homebuilding industry adapts to new restrictions on the use of furnaces during construction.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 235 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.