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Issue of access becomes hot topic at HRAI GTA Chapter meeting


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April 30, 2015

Of the code changes, updates and top-10 inspection defects presented at HRAI’s GTA Chapter meeting in April, the issue of access to units when the homeowner is not home received the strongest reaction.

Gary Miller, electrical inspector with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), was able to get through most of his agenda without much objection from the 50 or so attendees. But when it came to the top-10 most common defects that arise during inspections, a question regarding access became front and centre.

Ralf von Estorff, general manager of A1 Air Conditioning and Heating in Oakville, ON, said he just could not help but point out the inefficiency in how ESA inspections are scheduled. Currently, the ESA inspects one in 10 jobs randomly, but not knowing when inspectors are coming can potentially add to everyone’s workload, according to von Estorff. 

“If they’re making one in 10 inspections, to just drive to a customer’s home randomly, knock on the door and no one’s there, write this up as an infraction … mail it to us, have me call a customer and arrange for access by having them call the inspector’s number direct is a waste of his time, their office time and the customer’s time,” he said in an interview with HPAC. “So they seriously need to look at how to better manage their time, because if I just sent my technicians on a whim to somebody’s home, I’m losing money and so are they.” 

James Fraser, general manager of harm and prevention – southern region for the ESA, responded following the meeting. He told HPAC that authorized contractor program (ACP) contractors are asked to notify their clients that the ESA may or may not be coming for an inspection.

“We want the contractor to tell the customer so that when the inspector shows up – obviously, if there’s nobody home – it’s going to get a no-access defect, but at least the contractor will then know overnight,” said Fraser. “On the next day, they will see the no-access defect for that particular address, and they can either make arrangements with the homeowner or to have the unit inspected, or the inspector may select a different address from the list.”

He noted, however, that improvements are in the process of being made. 

“We do have some areas of the province where we’re currently scheduling the inspections, so the office will call and make the schedule of an a.m. or p.m. appointment,” he said. “And there are a certain number of those that we will accept in a day, depending on the run of the inspector and how much work he has.”

In addition to addressing the topic of access, Miller revealed that electrical metallic tubing (EMT) is now acceptable in wet locations under certain conditions. He also emphasized that it is now acceptable to cord connect furnaces, with the rationale that it will ease the use of emergency generators during extreme power outages.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t do a good job of letting the community know about that,” Miller said of the change regarding cord-connected furnaces. “It’s the kind of thing that unless you’re working in the electrical industry, you might not have seen, and that’s why I wanted to bring it up today.”

While the code may state that furnaces need to be hardwired, Miller clarified that the ESA now recognizes the safety concerns associated with leaving equipment hardwired.

“It’s important that this community hears that there is now an option (cord connection) that they can provide for the customer that would allow them flexibility down the road in the event of extended power outages, without sacrificing safety,” he said. 

Overall, von Estorff said he was enlightened by a couple of the changes alluded to in the presentation.

“I’ll take that back to my guys and make sure they’re aware of these little changes,” he said. “It makes our lives easier, and they are there for a reason.”

Single burner applications, P9 and an update from TSSA ombudsman Sandra Cooke are on the itinerary for the chapter’s next meeting on May 26.


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