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A Beginner-Friendly Guide To HVAC Systems

What Does HVAC Stand For?

HVAC stands for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.” This encompasses many machines and systems, from home furnaces and AC units to large industrial ventilation systems. Most people are somewhat familiar with central air conditioners or heaters, as these are a key component in most American homes.

But that familiarity usually doesn’t extend beyond the thermostat controls, which is perfectly natural. After all, HVAC systems are typically meant to be out of sight and out of mind. But every homeowner would do well to learn about the basics of HVAC systems, so they’re better equipped to maintain their system properly and recognize when there’s a problem. So keep reading for an easy crash course in HVAC!

What Do HVAC Systems Do?

As the name suggests, HVAC systems heat, cool, and ventilate indoor spaces. But they also perform vital functions such as air filtration and humidity control to maintain an acceptable level of indoor air quality.

There are many different HVAC systems, but the most common modality is the central air system. This involves one large central unit handling the entire home's needs (larger buildings require several of these units). In some central air systems, the heating and cooling are handled by two separate units (a furnace and an air conditioner, respectively) that share the same ductwork. In others, both the heating and cooling are handled by the same unit.

What Are the Main Parts of an HVAC System?

evaporator coilHVAC systems involve many individual parts that work together to heat or cool a home or business. Some of the main components of a typical HVAC system include the evaporator coil, condenser coil, compressor, heat exchanger, blower fan, air ducts, and air filter.

The evaporator coil is the medium by which heat is extracted from the indoor air in an air conditioner. The condenser coil is the medium by which that heat is then transferred to the outdoor air. Both are filled with a chemical refrigerant that essentially carries the heat energy from one coil to the other as the compressor pumps between them. In a furnace, the heat exchanger is the medium by which heat (produced via electric heating elements or natural gas combustion) is transferred to the indoor air.

The blower fan pulls indoor air through a “return” vent and blows it over the evaporator coil (in an AC) or heat exchanger (in a furnace). From there, the blower fan sends the cooled or heated air through the ductwork and into the home. The air filter is typically located in the return vent, where it captures particulates from the indoor air as it gets pulled in by the blower fan.

What Does HVAC Maintenance Entail?

replace air filterWith all that dust, dirt, and other debris getting caught in the air filter, it can get pretty filthy quickly. And when it gets too dirty, some of that debris can get into the unit and collect on electrical and mechanical components, where it can cause problems. But a dirt-laden air filter will also hinder airflow, putting undue strain on the blower fan motor and degrading the unit’s performance in general.

For these reasons, changing the air filters on time is the first part of HVAC maintenance and something everyone can easily handle. How often to change the filter depends on the type of filter, whether there are any pets in the building, and allergy concerns, but every three months is the general recommendation for most homes.

It’s also imperative to have the system regularly serviced by a professional HVAC technician. They can inspect the system, test the electrical components for irregularities, and perform a laundry list of other vital maintenance tasks such as lubricating fan bearings, recharging refrigerant lines, and cleaning the coils. The ideal maintenance schedule is once every spring for the AC and once every autumn for the furnace.

About A-Plus Air Conditioning & Home Solutions

A-Plus Air Conditioning & Home Solutions is a family-owned and operated company with over 45 years of experience serving Spring, TX, Austin, and the surrounding areas. They provide fast, friendly service, flat-rate pricing, and financing. Call them today for heating and cooling services in Spring, TX.