Understanding Your HVAC System

 Learn the Parts, Processes & Proper Maintenance

If you have an HVAC unit, you probably have lots of questions about how to properly maintain it so you don’t end up with expensive repairs down the road. Understanding your HVAC system can help optimize the results you get from your heater and air conditioner. When you understand the parts, processes and proper maintenance of your system, you will be able to reduce stress and live more comfortably.

What is HVAC?

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Your HVAC is designed to keep you comfortable all year round and to keep your home ventilated with air from outside. There are a lot of moving parts necessary to keep your HVAC system running smoothly. Today we will look at the basics and the simplified process used to heat and cool your home. We will share some tips to maintain the health and performance of your system as well.

An HVAC system includes an Air Conditioning unit for cooling, and a furnace for heating. They work together by sharing certain components such as the ductwork, and can adversely affect one another if not properly maintained. Your unit will usually be located outside by the house on the ground, or on the roof depending on where you live.

What are the main parts of an HVAC System?

Your HVAC system has 6 main components. They are the evaporator coil, condenser, compressor, and expansion valve, fan and thermostat. In order to function  properly and work together seamlessly they must be maintained and have regularly changed filters and refrigerants. We will share a brief overview of each component, then how the process in which they work.

  1. Evaporator coil – Found in the air handler and usually made of copper. The refrigerant runs over the evaporator coil and absorbs the heat from the air. It blows the cool air through the AC into the house.
  2. Compressor – Compresses refrigerant vapor into hot liquid that is later turned into cool air used to absorb heat from inside.
  3. Condenser coil –  Opposite of evaporator coil, the condenser coil pulls heat away from refrigerant and blows it outside.
  4. Expansive Valve – Located between the evaporator and condenser, it expands refrigerant into gas after facing a drop in pressure which causes it to cool, then go back through the evaporator coils to continue the process.
  5. Fan – Moves heated and cooled air throughout your house. It also keeps the unit cool while it is working.
  6. Thermostat – The brain of your HVAC, the thermostat is what your program communicates with your system. It allows you to set the temperature you want, and it automatically adjusts to maintain it.

How do you properly maintain your HVAC system?

Now that you have begun understanding your HVAC system, we will share some easy ways to maintain it. We do highly recommend calling in a professional for any major repairs, replacements and maintenance. One of the main ways to easily maintain your HVAC is to replace or clean your air filter. In most cases this can be relatively simple, however if you have any concern at all, contact a professional immediately.

When should I replace my air filter?

By regularly replacing your air filter, you keep mold, mildew, dust and bacteria at bay. We recommend changing your air filter at least every 3 months, but sometimes more if you have pets. Make sure your unit is off, and you wear a proper mask to avoid any dust inhalation. We also recommend wearing eye protection as often dust will fly around from the old dirty filter. Locate your duct access inside the house, and remove the cover. Make sure to order the correct filter for maximum efficiency. You must face the filter the right way or you can overheat and damage your unit which could result in a major expense. Make sure to replace the cover securely after and throw out the old filter.

Other maintenance considerations

The other thing you want to maintain regularly is the refrigerant levels. As we discussed, your HVAC won’t cool properly if your refrigerant is low or dirty. While we recommend calling an HVAC specialist such as our team of professionals at JG Graybill, you could potentially do this as a DIYer if you watch some videos. Just be careful to make sure the power is off to avoid any shock.

The best way to make sure your HVAC system is running smoothly and won’t have troubles is to schedule regular maintenance check ups and services. Staying on top of service will save you money and help you to avoid potential issues. Your HVAC is like a lung system that needs to have clear passage ways (ductwork) and a well running delivery system.

We hope this helps you in understanding your HVAC system and how it functions best a little bit more. The main thing to remember is that if your unit isn’t working properly, turn it off right away and consider the above mentioned components, parts and processes. Oftentimes detecting where the issues can be done easily, and a diagnosis call can be a great place to start.

For questions and to talk to our team, give us a call today at (717) 768-3276, or fill out a contact form here .