Fan Coil Heating and Cooling Systems in Condos
Many newer condos have fan coil heating and cooling systems. Often they are incorrectly described on MLS listings as Forced Air or Heat Pumps but it’s important to understand the difference.
The image above is what you will typically see in the unit.
The vent at the bottom takes air in and the vent at the top blows out either warm air in the winter, or cool air in the summer. If the lower vent is blocked with furniture, it will not work properly and the fan motor can burn out.
It can be either a 2 or 4 pipe system running throughout the building. In a 2-pipe system, there is a supply and return pipe filled with either hot or cold water, depending on the season. Air is blown over the pipes to heat or cool the suite. In a 4-pipe system, one pair of pipes carry hot water and the other pair carry cold water.
The advantage of the 4-pipe system is that the individual suite can control whether the air is heated or cooled. With a 2-pipe system the building controls this and depending on if you face north or south you may find yourself too warm or too cool during a short period during the seasonal changeover.
Behind the lower panel is the fan unit. In the spring and fall, the building may send a maintenance person around to change the filter and briefly check that it’s functioning correctly, but don’t assume this means that the unit is owned and maintained as part of the common elements. In many buildings they are part of the suite and if the unit needs repair or replacement, the owner of the unit will be responsible.
Before buying a condominium unit, it’s important to check with the property manager exactly what is the responsibility of the condominium corporation and what you will be responsible for as an owner.