HVAC: A Beginner’s Guide to Know the Basics
If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what HVAC stands for and how it works. HVAC is an acronym that stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. The purpose of an HVAC system is to provide thermal comfort and indoor air quality within a space.
HVAC systems are made up of three main components:
-A heat source (furnace or heat pump)
-A means of distributing the conditioned air (air ducts)
-A cooling device (air conditioner or evaporative cooler)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these components.
The Heat Source: Furnaces and Heat Pumps
The heat source in an HVAC system is typically a furnace or a heat pump. Furnaces work by heating air and then distributing that air throughout the home using a blower. Heat pumps, on the other hand, do not actually generate heat. Instead, they move heat from one place to another. In the winter, heat pumps move heat from the outdoors into your home. In the summer, they do the reverse by moving heat from your home to the outdoors. Many times in a house with multiple levels you will see both types used in the HAVC setup because it’s actually two separate HVAC systems.
Distributing Conditioned Air: Air Ducts
In order for conditioned air to be distributed throughout your home, it needs to travel through a system of air ducts. Air ducts are made up of insulated ductwork that runs through your ceilings, floors, and walls. Depending on the layout of your home, you may also have diffusers, registers, grilles, and register vents. All of these elements work together to distribute conditioned air evenly throughout your living space.
The Cooling Devices: Air Conditioners and Evaporative Coolers
The final component of an HVAC system is the cooling device. The most common type of cooling device is an air conditioner. Air conditioners work by removing heat from indoor air and then releasing that heat outdoors. Another type of cooling device is an evaporative cooler—also known as a swamp cooler—which works by using evaporation to cool down the indoor air. Swamp coolers are most commonly used in arid climates where humidity levels are low.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what HVAC stands for and how it works, you can be better informed when it comes time to make decisions about your home’s heating and cooling needs. If you have any questions about HVAC systems, need repairs, would like an HVAC system check, or even need help choosing the right system for your home, don’t hesitate to reach out to SS&B Heating & Cooling, we’re the HVAC comfort specialists!