Have you ever wondered how your HVAC system works? First of all, it’s important to realize that HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, features that every Fresno home requires for year-round comfort and health. If you want to be able to troubleshoot these essential home systems, it’s important to know how they work. First, we’ll start with air conditioning.
Most homes these days use central air conditioning in a split system, provided by either an A/C or heat pump. The outside unit of a split-system central air conditioner contains the condensing coil and a compressor, along with a fan. The inside unit includes an evaporator coil in an air-handling apparatus, or the coil is connected directly to your furnace blower.
These systems rely on the principle of refrigeration to provide cooling. A refrigerant solution, which turns into a gas at relatively low temperatures, extracts heat energy from the inside air as it’s blown across the evaporator coil. The refrigerant, now in its gaseous stage, is pumped outside where the heat is expelled into the air. Meanwhile, the cooled inside air is blown through the home’s ductwork to provide cooling. Heat pumps, when in cooling mode, operate the same away as a central A/C.
Natural gas furnaces remain the most popular form of home heating, though heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, while boilers, radiant systems, solar systems, and geothermal heat pumps are also available for home heating. A common combustion furnace is a fairly simple machine. Gas is fed into the combustion chamber where one or more burners set it aflame. Air picks up heat from the flame in the heat exchanger and then is delivered via the ductwork to all the rooms in the home. Ductwork returns stale air to the furnace to be heated again.
As mentioned, heat pumps can both heat and cool a home, and do so relatively efficiently. While the cooling mode is similar to a central A/C, heating just requires the process to be reversed, with heat extracted from the outside air and brought inside. During cold weather, heat pumps often need a back-up heating source, either electric resistance coils (which are expensive to operate) or a gas furnace. Ductless mini-split heat pumps also can provide efficient heating and cooling, while also giving the homeowner independent temperature control in rooms where the system’s air handler(s) are located.
Air Filtration and Humidification
A/Cs and heat pumps, when cooling your home, usually also provide some dehumidification. All forced-air systems – A/C, heat pump and furnace – must have effective air filtration in order to protect system components from dirt and dust, and to maintain suitable indoor air quality. This requires an efficient air filter that’s inspected and changed regularly.
For more information on how your HVAC system works in your Fresno area home, please contact us at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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