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What’s Included In An HVAC System?

What the heck is an HVAC system? What’s the difference between an HVAC system and an AC unit? Answers ahead!

Oh, how we love to hear those four little letters: HVAC. But then, we’re true romantics like that. The average homeowner doesn’t get as excited about their HVAC system as industry professionals, which is a shame. Knowing how HVAC works, how to properly take care of it, how to deal with damages, and what HVAC maintenance is required are the hallmarks of responsible homeownership. You may have a vague idea of how your house is cooled and heated, but can you name the parts and players involved? Do you know the difference between an HVAC system and an AC unit? Do you know what HVAC stands for? Here are answers to all of your burning (and cooling) questions, straight from your friendly neighborhood pros.

What Does HVAC Stand For?

HVAC means “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.” An HVAC system is made up of all of the parts that go into heating and cooling your home. Let’s break it down further: Your system contains actual units, such as the air conditioner model and the furnace. It also contains a complex system of wiring, vents, and ducts throughout your home. That’s why HVAC can seem confusing; there are a lot of components. Both residential and commercial buildings contain these systems, and as a general rule, the bigger the building, the larger (or more numerous) the units required.

The heating element is obvious; if you’ve ever bumped up the thermostat on a chilly day, you’ve used the “H” part of your HVAC system. Ventilation may seem a bit more complicated, but really, it’s just the process of moving air in and out of your home. The “AC” stands for “air conditioning,” something you are probably well-acquainted with on summer days. On a practical level, the “V” happens first; air is drawn into your heating or cooling unit, at which point the air is filtered and refined to a specific temperature. It’s then distributed throughout your home, helping you stay comfortable and happy.

Routine maintenance is suggested for keeping your system working optimally. You’ll want to change air filters, keep ductwork clean and free of debris, and address damages or issues as soon as they arise. Overuse, misuse, a clogged air filter, or incorrect installation are all culprits for HVAC problems. Older units are also susceptible to damage; for example, an old air conditioner is less efficient. Most units last 10-20 years, depending on the model. If you’re noticing signs of damage or inefficient heating/cooling, call a professional to inspect it immediately.

What’s The Difference Between An HVAC System And An AC Unit?

AC is just one part of HVAC! To put it another way, your air conditioner unit is an element of the entire HVAC system. Think of it like the cheese on a piece of pizza: Your HVAC system is the whole pie, but without the cheese, you’re missing a huge part. And without the dough, sauce, and extra pepperoni, well, you’ve just got a pile of cheese.

Central air conditioning is handled by professionals; it begins by purchasing and installing an air conditioner unit. The unit contains a filter, coils, a compressor, a fan, refrigerant, and a few other exciting things that process air. All of these parts live inside your AC model. The actual air conditioner is typically placed outdoors, near the foundation of your home. Once air is cooled and filtered — a.k.a. conditioned — it is pumped through the ducts inside of your home and released through vents. Of course, there’s also the potential your home may be outfitted with a ductless air conditioner.

Does A Window AC Unit Use The HVAC System?

If you have a window AC unit or portable air conditioner, your cooling needs will be taken care of without the extensive ductwork that exists within your home. Small units, such as standing air conditioners that can be moved from room to room, condition and cool air, then pump it back out through vents that exist within the actual model. The same goes for your window unit. Know that even if you cool your space with a small or portable unit, you’re still living amongst the inner workings of an HVAC system; remember that it is made up of a network of units and parts running throughout your home.

Ready to invest in your home’s HVAC system? Give us a call at Blanton’s Air, HVAC professional in Fayetteville and Raleigh, NC. You can reach us at (910) 822-2866, or reach out to schedule a consultation today.

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