For most Americans, HVAC refers to the central heating and air conditioning system that heats and cools their home, using a powerful fan to distribute the conditioned air throughout the house. These forced-air systems — with HVAC standing for heating, ventilation and air conditioning — work with combustion or electric furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps. A variety of non-forced-air systems are also employed in homes, but aren’t as common. They include electric baseboard, radiant, hot-water radiator and solar heating, among others.
Here are some HVAC basics to help you understand where that comfortable heating or cooling is coming from in your home.
Blower or air handler
This essential component not only draws household air into the furnace, air conditioner or heat pump, but also blows the resulting conditioned air through “supply” ductwork throughout the house, then out of registers in rooms. The air is pulled back to the heating or cooling equipment through “return” ductwork. In homes that employ furnaces for heating, the furnace blower usually does double-duty as the air handler for the central A/C.
The main HVAC equipment
The typical set-up in a central, forced-air system is a combustion furnace (usually fueled by natural gas) for heating and a split-system air conditioner for cooling. Also common are systems where a heat pump provides both heating and cooling. They usually have some type of supplemental heating for exceptionally cold days. Central A/Cs and heat pumps usually are split systems, with the evaporator/air handler inside the house and a condenser/compressor in a metal box outside, usually next to the house.
Other HVAC components
Many homes have whole-house humidity control and air cleaning systems that are connected to the forced-air HVAC system. Other homes accomplish these functions through portable or room units. Mechanical ventilation is also common in homes, ranging from common bathroom exhaust fans to whole-house attic fans to heat- and energy-recovery ventilating systems.
Closely connected with these HVAC basics are weatherproofing strategies, including insulation and air sealing.
For more help understanding the HVAC basics in your Indianapolis area home, please contact us at Mowery Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).