HVAC For Dummies: A Quick Beginners Guide to HVAC


hvac basics

HVAC units seem complicated and difficult to work on. That's why you always call a professional when a problem arises.

If you didn't know, HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you knew a few HVAC basics that could help diagnose a simple problem? Even if you can't fully diagnose a problem, at least there would be an understanding of what the technician says.

We're going to take a look at a few HVAC fundamentals to make certain problems seem like less of a mountain.

Parts of an HVAC Unit
There are several major parts of HVAC units and these include:

  • The Thermostat - this is the wall-mounted box that helps the entire unit control the temperature
  • The Furnace - uses various heat sources like solar energy or heat pumps. It's designed to heat air and move it through your home via ductwork.
  • Evaporator Coil - a very important piece that helps cool air when your thermostat is adjusted. This air is also moved through your home.
  • Condensing Unit - found outside of your home, it's filled with refrigerant gas. When this gas is cooled, it's sent to the evaporator coil to help cool the air.
  • Vents - these are the openings in your ceiling or floors that allow the warmed or cooled air to pass through (definitely important not to block these!).
  • Refrigerant Lines - these are the lines that allow the refrigerant gas to flow back and forth from the evaporator coil to the condenser.

How the Parts Function
Now that you know the basic parts of an HVAC unit, you need to know how they function. There are a few other parts that are included in this explanation but they will make sense.

If the HVAC unit is being used to keep your home cool, the air will be passed through the condenser. In the condenser, the air will be cooled to a liquid.

From there, it will be sent to the evaporator coil where it will be turned back into a gas (air.) After being turned into much cooler air, it will be blown out through vents via ductwork.

When HVAC units are used for heating purposes, the air is taken in to be heated. The heating process can occur by several methods including boilers, water heat pumps, or steam generators.

Once the air is heated, it is then blown through the house by the ductwork.

HVAC Basics: Almost Everything You Need to Know
Learning HVAC is a complicated process and doesn't happen overnight. That's why there are paid professionals that can help solve any problems that occur.

While this article does include HVAC basics, you should be aware that different types of units can and do function differently.

To be honest, the best advice is to simply keep your air filter clean. Regular replacements will help keep your unit running for many years.

Of course, that's not the only maintenance that needs to be done. For a better list of HVAC maintenance procedures, check out our performance tune-up list!