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Saanich resident questions bylaw governing heat pump noise

Cadboro Bay man says noise from neighbour’s heat pump causing a disturbance
Allan Chapman holds a decibel reader application up to the shared fence on his property where a neighbouring heat pump is immediately behind it. The 54.5-decibel reading is above Saanich bylaw limits, and hovers around this number day and night, said Chapman. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Allan Chapman is dealing with noise issues created by a heat pump recently installed at the home next door.

Close to the Cadboro Bay resident’s property line, the heat pump causes a low-frequency or tonal noise that moves through doors, windows, and glass easily, he said.

On Nov. 9 Chapman sent a letter to Saanich council regarding his experience with the heat pump installation.

“Saanich is the only municipal jurisdiction in the CRD that doesn’t restrict heat pump installation in side yards adjacent to neighbouring properties,” said Chapman.

Chapman said that while he has already dealt with bylaw enforcement who said that they can do nothing for him, he wants council to address the issue with some urgency simply because he foresees this becoming a recurring issue as heat pumps rise in popularity.

Chapman said that it is likely that many residents could be unfairly impacted unless bylaws are quickly amended.

ALSO READ: Saanich looks to continue top-up rebates for in-home heating conversions

“The District of Saanich is continuously looking at ways to improve existing guidelines and takes feedback from residents into consideration when reviewing and updating bylaws,” said communications manager Erika Schade.

Currently, Section 7(b) of the Noise Suppression Bylaw in Saanich provides that a heat pump should not operate at a level over 50 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and 45 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., as measured from the point of reception on an adjacent property.

These noise provisions and decibel limit requirements are similar to those of other municipalities that regulate heat pump noise, said Schade.

“As with any piece of equipment, regular maintenance can help ensure a heat pump is performing optimally.”

The heat pump beside Chapman’s home is immediately behind the fence and his patio and backyard are adjacent. He said the heat pump is located near a major part of his living and sleeping area and the decibel reading is usually over the limit, according to a decibel reader on his phone – especially when running at full capacity.

Chapman said that he hopes the district will take the issue into further consideration so that others down the line will be supported by a renewed and more tailored bylaw.

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