Do you live in a community or neighborhood with a homeowners association or HOA? Are you looking to upgrade or install new HVAC equipment? If so, or if you’re looking to buy a condo or home with a homeowner’s association, there are some things you should know before installing new HVAC equipment.
At Fire & Ice, we’ve worked with many condo owners or homeowners in communities with HOA’s and can help answer questions about what you’re allowed and not allowed to install in your home. Abiding by HOA rules can be difficult, but we are here to help ensure your new HVAC equipment fits within the guidelines and keeps you comfortable.
Conversely, if you’re looking to buy in a community with an HOA, you’ll be aware of things to look out for when upgrading equipment.
What Types of Air Conditioning and Heating Systems Might be Limited by My HOA?
Your HOA may limit the type of system you can have. A frequent limitation is visible
ductless mini-split units or anything that impedes the appearance of your home. For example, window air conditioners are frequently banned as well as portable ones.
So what can you do if you still want the comfort of a ductless mini-split but not the look?
You may still have some options. There are different types of ductless heads that are more concealed.
Options for Ductless Mini-Split Heads
If you would like to have a ductless mini-split inside your condo, you have a few options you can consider that are discreet.
Floor Mount Ductless System
Floor mount units are installed into the wall along the floor. These are typically recommended for use in a cape cod style home, an attic, or a different situation where wall space is unavailable. These units can be recessed into the wall to hide from view. However, they still stick out slightly out of the wall by a few inches. These units are still very efficient, but they do not include the 3D-i-see sensor technology due to their placement.
Ceiling Cassette Ductless System
Ceiling cassettes are another ductless option. It is a type of ductless head that is installed into the ceiling so that it is not exposed. For this reason, they are very aesthetically pleasing but require a condensate pump to drain the water. This can be noisy and can be inconvenient. These heads are also costly to install and require a contractor to complete framing before the installation. Therefore, at Fire & Ice, We only install these systems upon request and only recommend them in specific circumstances where the other methods are not feasible.
What if My HOA Restricts Traditional HVAC Units?
The most significant things that the HOA typically polices are appearance and noise.
If your community restricts what you have outside, which can include a traditional air conditioner condenser, making a ductless system or a heat pump a great option in that case. If your complex does not also restrict interior units, unlike the above, you would also have the option of a hall wall-mounted ductless system.
High Wall Mount Ductless System
A high wall mount unit is the type of unit we most commonly install and recommend for most circumstances. They stick out from the wall and are not as aesthetically pleasing as the following two types. However, they are incredibly energy efficient and include the 3D-i-See Sensor technology. This unit type is also the most cost-effective and easiest to install.
3D-i-See Sensor Technology
Currently, only the high wall unit mounts come with the 3D-i-See Sensor. The 3D-i-See Sensor is a Mitsubishi technology that allows the motion of a person in the room to be detected so that the unit can heat and cool the room accordingly. It also can tell when someone is not in the room using absence detection and will shut the unit down.
The sensor can also be used to customize the airflow from the machine in the room using direct/indirect mode. The direct mode determines the location of the occupants and blows the air towards them. Indirect mode conversely blows air away from the occupants.
The 3-D-i-see Sensor also will not kick on if your pet runs into the room as it can sense the typical human body temperature.
To learn more about the sensor and how it works, read our article here.
If you are unsure if these solutions will be acceptable in your complex, ask to speak to your HOA if anything is unclear.
Review Your HOA’s Reserves Budget Before deciding on an Furnace or Air Conditioner
Another situation where you may encounter an HOA is if you live in an attached home with decentralized heating and cooling systems. It may not always be clear who is financially responsible for ductwork, maintenance, or repairs. If you are not sure about this where you live, contact your HOA for clarification or ask while touring the home if you are looking to buy.
Always ask about the budget of your HOA when looking to buy or if you haven’t already. Typically they will have money set aside to do repairs for your community, maintenance, and improvements. Additionally, confirm whether or not your unit is connected to the building’s ductwork and other areas that might be considered “common” so you know who is responsible for any repairs that are needed. If it is regarded as a common area, it could be something the HOA would take care of.
Ask questions and read your HOA’s declaration of covenants and restrictions to see who would be responsible for what in different scenarios.
Maintenance and your HOA
If you have an individual system installed in your condo, community, or attached housing, the maintenance for that, as well as any damage, is your responsibility. To help with this and to make maintenance accessible, even in emergencies, ask your HVAC provider about a maintenance agreement.
At Fire & Ice, we have several maintenance agreement options that we give to our customers. Not only does a maintenance plan help in emergencies, but we also recommend them to all of our clients because regular system maintenance helps keep your manufacturer warranty valid. These manufacturer warranties can last ten years or sometimes longer but can be voided without proper maintenance and care to your system.
When a part malfunctions on your system and you need a replacement, you will be glad if your manufacturer warranty is still valid to pay for the cost. Additionally, we provide a one-year labor warranty on all systems we install. Therefore, if the client has a mechanical failure on their system within the first year of installation, we will come and fix it at no additional cost.
Your HVAC manufacturer warranty, however, will usually include some exclusions or items that are just not covered. These may vary from brand to brand, so look at the information in your manual to be sure, but here is a list of some everyday items that are excluded.
- Certain Parts
- Maintenance items
- Certain Circumstances or Natural Disasters
- Ownership Changes
As mentioned above, labor is not typically included in a manufacturer warranty. Therefore, unless you purchase an extended warranty separately through your HVAC installation company, expect to pay any associated labor costs.
Certain Parts May Not Be Covered
You might anticipate that all parts would be covered, right? Think again. The warranty may exclude certain parts completely, such as sheet metal, but others may protect them for a certain period. To be sure, check the wording of your warranty section inside your manual for any specific exclusions.
Certain items are typically not covered, including things that should be changed during regular maintenance, such as furnace filters, as these should be replaced often. Capacitors and contactors are sometimes also in this category because they are typically not expected to last the complete lifetime of your system. Carefully read your warranty to determine what items that brand may consider to be under a maintenance category and exclude from being covered.
Circumstances or Natural Disasters
An item frequently excluded from many products' warranties is sometimes called “acts of God.” This refers to natural disasters, fires, physical property destruction, and electrical surges. Think of this as anything that is not ideal, normal operating conditions. Check the wording of your warranty to be sure about these exclusions.
However, if you have a common area system, the HOA is responsible for any maintenance as well as damage caused by storms or other scenarios. Therefore, if there is any damage caused by construction or other actions of the HOA, it would most likely be their responsibility to cover the cost.
Read Your HOA Rules Carefully
Make sure you go over these carefully, especially the declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions or a CC&R. A CC&R restricts how you can use the property and would include anything about who is responsible for what for specific maintenance and situations to what is allowed to be installed and not allowed. This would be the section that would inform you about any type of HVAC restrictions. Ask questions from your HOA president or representatives in your community if anything is unclear.
Don’t Wait to Feel Comfortable inside your Condo or Home Community
At Fire & Ice, we understand how complicated figuring out or purchasing heating and cooling solutions for your home or condo under an HOA can be. Feel free to call us with any questions if you live in the central Ohio area. Check to see if you are in our service area by using the zip code map below.