HVAC for Beginners - A Brief Guide

What Does HVAC Mean?

The acronym HVAC - Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning - refers to the systems by which the air in indoor spaces is kept comfortable and clean. This means furnaces, air conditioners, vent fans, air filtration systems, dehumidifiers, and other systems designed to move, heat, cool, or manipulate indoor air.

Primitive forms of HVAC have been around for thousands of years in some cultures (the Roman Empire is thought to have developed the first effective central heating system), but today, HVAC systems are in virtually every home and business in the developed world. 

Given how important they are, it’s a good idea for every homeowner to have at least a basic understanding of these systems and how they operate to take better care of their system and make more informed decisions when it comes time to replace or repair the unit. Read on to learn the basics about HVAC systems.

What An HVAC System Does

HVAC systems come in many forms, but they all serve the same basic functions - cooling, heating, ventilation, and air quality management. Some involve a large central unit that serves the entire home via air ducts. In contrast, others (known as ductless mini-splits) involve multiple units installed in different rooms throughout the house.

In a central air system, the air conditioner is responsible for cooling the home, which it does by extracting warmth from the indoor air and transferring it outdoors. The furnace (typically a separate unit) is in charge of heating the air, which it does by producing heat using a fuel source such as natural gas or electricity, then pumping it through the same ducts used by the AC. 

As air is pulled into the AC or furnace, it passes through a filter, capturing airborne pollutants like dust and dander. And as an air conditioner cools the air, it also extracts moisture from it, causing water vapor to condense into liquid form. These two vital functions help improve indoor air quality and make the indoor air more comfortable.

Key Components of HVAC Systems

coilNow, look at the individual components that make these processes possible. These include the evaporator, condenser, compressor, blower fan, ductwork, and thermostat. The evaporator coil is responsible for extracting heat energy from the indoor air, while the condenser coil releases that heat energy into the outdoor air. Both are made from copper and filled with a chemical refrigerant that carries the heat between the two, whose conversion from gaseous to liquid form and back helps facilitate heat transfer.

The compressor is responsible for that conversion process and pumping the refrigerant back and forth between the two coils. The blower fan circulates the indoor air through the ductwork and back into the air handler unit to be cooled (or heated). The thermostat, of course, is the control center of the whole operation, sending signals to each component dictating what must be done.

Maintaining an HVAC System

filter HVAC systems are complex machines. And like any machine, they require routine maintenance to keep running smoothly and efficiently over the long haul. Hiring a professional to service the unit is one of the best things anyone can do for their HVAC system. It’s a requirement of many manufacturer warranties. 

HVAC technicians are highly trained to know the ins and outs of any system, new or old, to safely perform those in-depth maintenance tasks that DIYers simply can’t (or shouldn’t). They can also perform a thorough inspection to catch potential issues and recommend solutions for improving performance and efficiency.

However, homeowners can do their part to help maintain their HVAC systems between professional service visits. Replacing the air filters every three months (or possibly every 1-2 months if there are several pets or high levels of dust in the building) is essential for proper airflow and good air quality. It’s also good to keep the outdoor unit clear of yard debris, clean the thermostat with a gentle air duster every few weeks, and keep the vents clean and unobstructed. These simple tasks, combined with yearly or twice-yearly maintenance from a professional, will keep the HVAC system running strong for years to come!

About Mr. Air AC & Electrical

Mr. Air AC & Electrical has been serving the residents of Pompano Beach, FL, for over 30 years. They provide straightforward pricing, 24-hour emergency, same-day, and financing. They also offer a maintenance plan that comes with various member perks. Call them today for air conditioning services in Pompano Beach, FL.