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Home»Do you need an HVAC Permit in Canada?

Do you need an HVAC Permit in Canada?

HVAC & Building Permits

In Canada, managing HVAC systems involves several regulatory requirements, including obtaining the necessary permits. This article provides an extensive overview of HVAC permits, which are essential for ensuring that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work adhere to local building codes and safety regulations.

What is an HVAC Permit?

An HVAC permit, often referred to as a mechanical permit, is a type of building permit required for projects that involve the installation, modification, or replacement of heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. These permits are crucial for ensuring that all mechanical work is performed to meet safety standards and building regulations.

When is an HVAC Permit Required in Canada?

Installing new HVAC equipment such as furnaces, central air conditioners, heat pumps, or other systems that affect indoor air quality and temperature generally requires building permits. This ensures that the installation complies with local safety standards and building regulations.

Major modifications to ductwork, like resizing ducts, rerouting them, or adding new ducts, often require a permit. Such changes can impact the overall efficiency and functionality of the HVAC system, and permits help the owner confirm that modifications do not adversely affect system performance or breach code requirements.

Replacing old heating and cooling units with new ones may necessitate a permit, especially if the new units differ in heating or cooling capacity, or utilize a different fuel type. Permits for such replacements ensure that the new units are compatible with the existing installation and meet current energy efficiency and safety standards.

Plans to extend HVAC systems to new parts of the home, like a recently finished basement or an addition, typically require a permit. Likewise, altering the system to eliminate components, such as removing parts of the ductwork, also usually necessitates official approval.

Installing specialized HVAC equipment like energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) or heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) often requires a permit. These systems integrate with the existing HVAC to enhance energy efficiency and air quality, and a permit ensures they are incorporated correctly.

Any HVAC project that includes extending or modifying gas lines will almost certainly require a permit. This is a crucial safety measure, as improper handling of gas lines can lead to dangerous leaks or other serious hazards.

Projects aimed at boosting energy efficiency, such as converting an oil furnace to a gas furnace or installing a geothermal heat pump system, typically require a permit. These projects often involve complex installations, structural work, and significant alterations to your home’s heating and cooling infrastructure.

When building codes are revised, systems that were previously compliant might no longer meet new standards. Installing new systems or retrofitting existing ones to comply with the latest codes generally requires a permit, ensuring that all modifications meet current standards for energy efficiency and safety.

When is an HVAC Permit Typically NOT Required in Canada?

Standard upkeep tasks such as cleaning ducts, swapping filters, or servicing system components like fans and motors typically don’t require a permit. Minor repairs that don’t alter the system’s design or capacity—like replacing belts, lubricating parts, or fixing minor leaks—are also generally exempt from permitting.

If you're exchanging parts of your HVAC system with identical or equivalent components that don’t alter the system’s function or capacity, a permit is often not necessary. For instance, changing a faulty thermostat for a new one of the same model or replacing an old fan motor with a similar unit usually does not require a permit.

Installation of portable air conditioners or heaters that take electricity but are not permanently installed or wired into the home’s infrastructure often does not require a permit. These units can be connected to existing electrical outlets and moved around as needed, without impacting the permanent HVAC system.

Like portable units, installing window air conditioners that fit into existing window frames without structural modifications typically does not require a permit. However, if the installation involves enlarging the window or creating new openings, a permit might be necessary.

Replacing an old furnace, air conditioner, or other HVAC equipment with a new model of the same type and capacity in the same location might not require a permit if there are no changes to fuel sources, electrical connections, or venting systems.

Small adjustments to ventilation, such as adding covers or minor rerouting that doesn’t significantly change the original design or capacity, typically do not require a permit. Nonetheless, it’s wise to check local regulations, as some areas might have specific rules even for minor modifications.

Installing decorative gas fireplaces that are not primary heat sources and do not involve alterations to gas lines might not require a permit. These units are usually vent-free and are intended more for decoration than significant heating.

HVAC Permit Requirements in Vancouver

Effective January 1, 2023, all new air conditioning installations in detached homes with one or two dwellings must support low-carbon heating and cooling, specifically utilizing electric heat pumps. This initiative reflects Vancouver’s commitment to enhancing sustainable living and energy efficiency in residential buildings.

For renovations in such homes where the construction value exceeds $250,000, regulations require the electrification of existing space heating and hot water systems to align with standards for new buildings. This regulation underscores the city’s commitment to lowering carbon emissions and fostering the use of renewable energy.

The procedure for acquiring a mechanical permit in Vancouver is streamlined to ensure efficiency:

  1. Application Submission: Applicants need to provide detailed plans compliant with the Vancouver Building By-law through electronic or in-person submissions.

  2. Fee Structure: Permit fees vary based on the building type and the complexity of the HVAC installation. For example, fees for a 1-3 story building start at $401 plus $14.20 per 1kW, which adjusts based on the system’s capacity.

  3. Inspection Process: Post-permit issuance, a building inspector verifies adherence to installation standards. New construction requires both initial and final inspections, whereas existing structures are subject only to a final inspection.

Vancouver mandates the minimum and specific certifications for contractors to ensure they are proficient in installing contemporary HVAC systems:

  • Municipal Heat Pump Certification (MHPC): Required for all types of heat pump installations, necessitating expertise in HVAC, plumbing, electrical, or gas fitting.

  • Heat Pump Contractor Recognition (MHPCR): Specifically for contractors installing air-to-air heat pumps, requiring affiliation with the Home Performance Contractor Network or equivalent training.

These certifications help ensure that contractors meet the city’s high standards for safety and efficiency in HVAC installations.

Compliance with Vancouver's noise by-law is crucial during HVAC installations. The law mandates that installations must not exceed 55 dBA to minimize noise disturbances in residential areas. This is especially significant for systems installed near balconies or property boundaries.

HVAC Permit Requirements in Edmonton

Under the Safety Codes Permit Bylaw in Edmonton, permits are obligatory for certain HVAC activities:

Circumstances Requiring a Permit:

  • Installation, repair, or modification of HVAC systems, encompassing:

    • General ventilation setups.

    • Kitchen exhaust configurations.

    • Residential water-based heating systems.

    • Devices for heat recovery ventilation.

Exemptions from Permit Requirements:

  • Installation of appliances powered by gas or solid fuels that do not connect to ductwork beyond what's required for combustion air. For such installations, a Home Improvement Permit is necessary instead.

  • Separate chimney installations do not necessitate a heating and ventilation permit.

For the installation of air conditioning systems in Edmonton, permit requirements vary based on the system's characteristics:

Conditions for Requiring an HVAC Permit:

  • Modifications to existing ducting designs during installation.

  • Units exceeding 5 tons (60,000 BTU), which also necessitate an electrical permit alongside the HVAC permit.

When Only an Electrical Permit Is Needed:

  • For air conditioning systems that are integrated directly into the electrical network without ducting modifications, provided the unit's capacity is under the 5-ton limit.

Situations Not Requiring a Building Permit:

  • Portable air conditioning units that plug into standard electrical outlets do not require a permit.

Here's an overview of the HVAC permit fees in Edmonton -

HVAC Permit Requirements in Toronto

  1. Installation of New HVAC Systems:

    • Implementing a brand-new HVAC system in any building type necessitates a permit to ensure all safety and performance standards are met. This also ensures that the new system integrates properly with the building's existing structures and mechanical setups.

  2. Significant System Modifications:

    • Major changes to existing HVAC systems, such as enhancing the system's capacity (e.g., upgrading the furnace to handle more output), redesigning air ducts, or adding components that modify the original setup, require formal approval.

  3. HVAC Work Involving Structural Adjustments:

    • Any HVAC activity that demands modifications to the building's architecture (e.g., creating new openings for ducts or installing vents) requires a permit. This step ensures that these changes do not compromise the structural integrity of the building.

  4. Installation of Specialized HVAC Equipment:

    • Setting up specialized HVAC equipment like commercial kitchen ventilation, large-scale air conditioning units, or industrial heating and cooling systems typically requires a permit. These systems can significantly affect the building's safety, energy consumption, and environmental impact.

  5. Implementations Including New Energy Systems:

    • Upgrades that introduce new energy systems, such as solar heating components or geothermal cooling technologies, also require permits. These systems can greatly influence the building’s overall energy dynamics and efficiency.

  1. Insulation Updates:

    • Enhancing or replacing insulation, where the structural integrity or key mechanical components of the building are unaffected, generally does not require a permit. This allows homeowners to improve their energy efficiency of their house independently of the permitting process.

  2. Furnace or Boiler Replacement:

    • Routine replacement of furnaces or boilers, provided there are no changes to the heating system’s design or capacity, is exempt from permits. This is considered regular maintenance aimed at maintaining or enhancing system efficiency without modifying its setup.

  3. Additional Cooling System Installations:

    • Adding extra cooling units like air conditioners, air cleaners, or in-line humidifiers, especially when these additions do not modify the building's electrical system or structure significantly, might bypass the need for a permit.

  4. Plumbing Fixture Updates:

    • Simple repairs or direct replacements of existing plumbing fixtures that do not involve changes to the plumbing architecture or the system’s capacity are usually permit-free.

  5. Roofing Material Replacement:

    • Substituting old roofing materials with new ones, without altering the roof’s structure or the building’s exterior, does not require a permit. This type of work is purely cosmetic and involves no structural changes or re roofing.

For details on building permit fees in Toronto, visit their official website.

HVAC Permit Requirements in Calgary

Calgary’s regulations necessitate permits for a variety of HVAC installations and significant modifications to uphold safety, efficiency, and regulatory standards. Some common situations where permits are required include:

  • New Installations and Major Modifications: Installing new HVAC equipment such as air conditioning units, furnaces, or substantial system upgrades often requires a permit to ensure adherence to safety and energy standards.

  • Fireplaces: Any new installation of fireplaces, including wood-burning, gas, or outdoor models, requires a permit to ensure compliance with fire safety standards and proper venting.

  • Gas Appliances: The introduction of new or replacement of existing gas appliances, including furnaces and water heaters, typically requires a permit to ensure gas lines and connections are installed safely.

  • Air Conditioning Installations: Installing air conditioning systems, especially those that involve significant ductwork changes or electrical upgrades, generally requires a permit. This is to ensure the installation does not compromise the structural integrity of the building.

Calgary allows certain minor works to be conducted without an HVAC permit, enabling straightforward maintenance services and replacement tasks to proceed without extensive regulatory approvals:

  • Routine Maintenance and Minor Repairs: Simple upkeep such as servicing HVAC units, replacing filters, or conducting minor repairs that do not alter the system’s design or capacity usually do not require a permit.

  • Equipment Replacement: The straightforward replacement of an HVAC component like a furnace or air conditioner with a new unit of identical type and capacity often does not necessitate a permit, provided that there is no modification to the ductwork or electrical setup.

  • Adherence to Safety Standards: Regardless of whether a permit is required, it’s crucial to follow safety guidelines and manufacturer instructions to ensure installations are performed correctly.

  • Professional Installation: It’s advisable to engage qualified professionals for both permitted and non-permitted work to guarantee compliance with local codes and standards.


Obtaining an HVAC permit is a critical step in ensuring that any installation or modification of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems is safe, compliant, and efficient. Homeowners and contractors should always check local regulations and possibly consult with experts to ensure compliance and avoid penalties.

Getting unpermitted work done can have major legal consequences, so it is not advised to go without it.

If you wish to hire a professional for your installation, repairs, or replacement needs or you need expert advice on your HVAC systems – contact Comfort Union. All our HVAC technicians are qualified and adhere to the stringent laws in individual cities. You can also visit our company website for more details!

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