HVAC systems save lives. It’s true. They protect you from unbearably hot weather and insufferable cold weather. HVAC systems also filter and condition the air we breathe to mitigate the risk of health problems—such as allergies, coughing, shortness of breath, and asthma.
If you want to breathe clean air and enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, you need an HVAC system. Check out these HVAC FAQs and answers to better understand and maintain your system.
What They Are
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Simply put, it’s your home’s heating and cooling system. Most U.S. households and commercial buildings use an HVAC system to heat, cool, filter, humidify and distribute air.
How They Work
An HVAC system distributes air throughout a building. Typically, the heating aspect uses a furnace to heat air, while the cooling aspect uses an air conditioner and indoor coil to cool air. The ventilation system exchanges warm and cool air from inside and outside your home, it can be as simple as opening a window or using a ventilator.
10 Important HVAC Parts
Yes, you, you are an important part of your HVAC System. It is your decisions that will decide the comfort, energy savings, and life expectancy of your heating and cooling system. While all the components are designed to work together, nothing happens until you touch the thermostat. Learning how the components work and how to take care of them will provide you with comfort and peace of mind. If you have questions or concerns about your system, mention it to your technician during your next maintenance visit.
- The air distribution System (aka the ductwork)
Most homes have a gas forced heating/central air conditioning system that utilizes a duct system to move the air. It consists of a supply line and a return line. This ductwork is run through the walls and ceilings of the home. The main trunk lines can be seen hanging from the ceiling in a basement.
The return air ductwork is essentially the air your system is “breathing in” from the space and bringing back to the furnace. The return openings should not be blocked or covered.
The openings for the return air can be:
– Individual small grilles, high on an interior wall in most rooms except bathrooms or kitchens.
– One central large grille in the ceiling of common area,
– Large floor grates (found usually in older homes). The supply air ductwork is the air your system is “exhaling” after it has been conditioned and is distributed throughout the space. Unlike return openings, the supply openings can be partially open or closed. The supply registers often have a louver to adjust air flow as needed.
The supply openings can be:
– An individual register, in the floor near windows or doorways
– An individual register in the ceiling.
– An individual register in the bottom of a kitchen/bathroom cabinet(to keep your toes nice and warm as you wash the dishes)
– A wall register, low on interior wall or exterior wall (found usually in older homes)
The furnace heats the air during cold months. The furnace contains burners that create the heat, a heat exchanger that transfers the heat and a blower that moves the air through the unit and into the ductwork. During the cooling season, the blower on the furnace is used to move the air through the indoor portion of the cooling system.
- Indoor Coil & Refrigerant lines
The indoor Coil, typically attached to the furnace, and the copper refrigerant lines connected to the outside air conditioner, work together to cool the air during warm months. Refrigerant moves inside the coils to absorb heat from the air and brings it to the outside air conditioning unit.
- Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit
The outdoor unit contains the coils, compressor, and fan. It rejects the heat transferred to it from the indoors to the outdoors. You see the a/c system does not cool hot air, it removes the unwanted heat, thus cooling the space. This outside unit should be free and clear of any leaves, debris or obstructions for optimum cooling and equipment efficiency.
The filter protects the blower motor and furnace from objects that may get drawn into the system. It can be found in a slot/filter cabinet next to the furnace or in a wall/ceiling register. A high velocity, “cheap” filter is the best for air flow. However, it can be upgraded to provide better filtration for cleaner, healthy air. Ask your HVAC expert what is recommended for your system.
- UltraViolet Air Purifier
While enhanced filters can help clean up the indoor air by removing particles in the air that are brought back to the furnace. An air purifier can eradicate indoor air pollutants, such as odors or germs. Certain products tested and demonstrated a 99% inactivation of CoronaVirus & Sars-Cov2 in seconds. The UV light is installed in the ductwork where it produces active air cleansers which migrate in the recirculating air. It helps oxidize odors and vocs while inactivating viruses, bacteria , germs and disinfecting air and surfaces. Most bulbs need to be replaced every year.
The humidifier adds moisture to the air during the winter months. The humidifier needs annual maintenance and the panel inside needs to be changed each season. Sometimes during a long Chicago winter or if you have extremely hard water, it may need to be changed more often.
The dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the air. While the air conditioner dehumidifies in the summertime, in some areas it may not be enough or dehumidification is needed when the a/c is not running. Some homeowners, during those wet spring months, will set up a portable dehumidifier that requires regular dumping of the water tank. There is a dehumidifier option that can be connected to your existing duct system to provide whole home dehumidification. It also has a filter that needs to be washed/replaced and has a drain, so no dumping is required.
The thermostat controls the settings that signal your HVAC to heat or cool your home. Technology today allows control of your system and receives temperature/water alerts from your smartphone or computer. Programmable thermostats today also offer the options of lowering or raising the temperature when sleeping or unoccupied which can help save energy.
7 Common HVAC Issues & Solutions
If you have any HVAC concerns or HVAC FAQs, contact the experts at Air-Rite Learn here about the most common HVAC issues and their solutions.
Failing to maintain your HVAC system causes unnecessary issues and shortens its lifespan. A poorly-maintained HVAC can result in higher energy bills because the system runs less efficiently.
Additionally, parts break easily and have to be replaced more often.
Performing regular clean and checks prevents both minor and major problems from occurring—which will save you money in the long run.
If the air filters aren’t replaced frequently, your entire HVAC system could malfunction due to overheating. Even if it doesn’t malfunction, the system will run more inefficiently and increase your energy bill.
Avoid the problems listed above by checking the air filters each month and replacing as needed. You can ask Alexa to remind you or join our monthly email filter reminder club.
Varying Room Temperatures
The bigger rooms in your home require more time and energy to warm. While this process is normal, rooms that take significantly longer to warm might point to an underlying problem. Uneven heating can also be corrected with balancing of your system.
Contact an HVAC technician to assess the situation
A malfunctioning ignition prevents your HVAC system from turning on. Failing flame sensors, burners, pilot lights, and low gas levels cause an HVAC ignition to stop working properly or break down completely.
Have an HVAC technician take a look at your system with a diagnostic appointment or schedule the annual maintenance.
Sometimes if the furnace is in the laundry room, the indoor components may just need to be cleaned. Any malfunctioning parts can be replaced or repaired as needed.
A broken thermostat causes the entire HVAC system to malfunction. If the temperature throughout your house seems too high or too low, it might be the result of a broken thermostat.
Check your thermostat for potential problems before contacting a technician. Sometimes a breaker may be tripped or the thermostat simply needs new batteries. Or it could be time for an upgrade.
Like any other type of machinery, an old HVAC system will slow down or break down eventually. While a properly-maintained HVAC system can last up to 20+ years, every system needs to be replaced at some point because parts wear down over time.
If your system is getting older, plan a visit to discuss the replacement options now while everything is working. It’s better to make an informed decision in a nice warm and cozy home than a rushed one.
If you have no heat, schedule a service technician to stop by and take a look. It may be an inexpensive repair and they can provide an outlook on the condition of the system.This could provide you time to research and discuss the options with your HVAC professional.
If the pipes or drains in your HVAC system are loose, broken or clogged, they could leak water, Carbon Monoxide, natural gas or refrigerant.
A professional should assess this situation and fix any leaks. It could be a gas leak or clogged water drain that requires a plumber or a HVAC equipment malfunction that needs an HVAC Expert.
3 Simple Steps To Lower Your Energy Bill
- Perform Regular Maintenance
When you perform maintenance checks on your HVAC system, you ensure that every part stays clean and works properly. Checking and replacing dirty air filters as needed is an important part of this process. Clean air filters not only improve air quality but also improve your system’s efficiency. Performing regular maintenance puts less strain on your system and lengthens its lifespan—which saves you money in the long run.
- Purchase a High-Efficiency System
When looking for a new HVAC system, choose one with a high-efficiency rating. A system that runs more efficiently requires less energy. The less energy your system uses, the lower your monthly energy bill will be. Some gas utility providers offer an additional incentive/rebate for choosing the more efficient models.
- Use a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat allows you to control what temperature your system is set to at any point in the day. It regulates the temperature when you’re at home and when you’re gone for longer time periods. This process avoids wasting warm and cool air and saves you money.
Air-Rite’s Trustworthy Emergency Repair Services
Air-Rite is committed to providing the best heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems through superior design, installations, and emergency repair services. If you’re looking for an HVAC contractor in the Naperville and Chicagoland area, contact your local HVAC experts at Air-Rite Heating & Cooling.
Learn more about our reliable emergency repair services, or call 630-966-8225 to speak with a technician.