HVAC System: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Posted on: Feb 15, 2023

The odds are great that you’ve lived in a home with an HVAC system at one point in your life—they’re popular solutions for heating and cooling. Your comfort level right now may well be due to an HVAC.

HVAC systems warm and cool your home. A lot of people only associate HVAC with air conditioning and heating, but they also consist of ducts, vents, thermostats, and more. Read on to learn more about what HVAC systems are and how they work.

What Is an HVAC System?

In some homes, the heating and cooling systems are controlled by separate machines, such as a boiler system, radiator, window air conditioner, or swamp cooler. 

A home’s HVAC unit is a group of individual components that work together to heat and cool your home. Depending on the time of year, the same machine will either activate the furnace or the air conditioning to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. 

What Does HVAC Stand For?

The term HVAC is an acronym that stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The entire system incorporates all the processes and technology that work to heat, cool, and ventilate your home. 

What Is Included in an HVAC System?

A complete heating, cooling, and ventilation system includes not only the equipment that regulates the temperature of your home but also: 

  • The thermostat, or the control center of the system. This monitors the temperature conditions and activates either the heating or cooling system to sustain your home’s ideal climate.
  • Ductwork to distribute air to each room in your home. Forced-air systems rely on these pathways to deliver conditioned air throughout the building.
  • Evaporator coils are parts of the air conditioning or heating units that absorb heat that passes over them to condition the air. 
  • Pumps and condensers that pull air from the outside to bring it indoors, regulating the air temperature in the process.
  • Air filters and quality components to ensure the air that circulates through the system is safe and easy to breathe. 
  • Furnace and blower motors that work hard to physically push the air by using fan blades to transport conditioned air. 
  • Ventilation lines to move air supply around the system, directing it either into or out of the house.

4 Types of HVAC Units

There are four main HVAC system types, each with its own advantages.

1. Split System

Split systems are divided into two units: a heating unit and a cooling unit. Split systems are the most common type of HVAC unit and have both indoor and outdoor counterparts. The cooling system exists outside, while the furnace is typically located in a basement or closet space.

2. Duct-Free Split System

When a heating and cooling system needs to operate without built-in ducts, it is called a duct-free or mini-split system. These systems are operated on a room-by-room basis, with individual units to control the temperature in a single area. Duct-free split systems are often used in home additions or multi-family buildings to allow individuals to heat and cool one space to their liking. 

3. Zoned System

As the name suggests, a zoned HVAC unit can alter the temperature in just one zone or room at a time. The wider system will only release conditioned air to the desired zone, which boosts energy efficiency and allows individuals to customize temperatures in every room.

4. Hybrid System

To get the best of both worlds and achieve HVAC efficiency, a hybrid system, like a hybrid car, has access to more than one energy source to power the system. These are popular for their ability to save energy without compromising the effectiveness of their heating and cooling capabilities.

How Does an HVAC System Work?

Essentially, an HVAC system:

  • Receives input from your home’s thermostat to either maintain or change the air temperature 
  • Takes in air from the outside or the indoor environment
  • Passes it through vents and ductwork to the central heating and cooling components
  • Conditions the air to a certain temperature by adding or absorbing heat
  • Blows the air back through the vents and ductwork into your home to balance the temperature

The components of an HVAC unit can be grouped into three categories.

1. Heating Equipment

The center of your home’s heating system is likely a furnace powered by electricity or a fuel source such as gas, propane, or oil. A furnace uses a pump to bring in air, which then absorbs heat from the unit and transports it through ducts and vents to generate indoor warmth.

2. Ventilation Equipment

Excess heat needs a place to go. Your home’s ventilation system uses ducts to send air through chimney flues or vent stacks to discharge heat energy away from the building. Ventilation also helps prevent condensation buildup that can damage the system or the home itself. 

3. Cooling Equipment

Though a heating system will condition the air by warming it up, a cooling or air conditioning system simply removes heat from the airflow rather than generating cold. This works by using a refrigerant, which absorbs heat to produce cooler air and move it through the airways. 

Maintaining Your Home’s HVAC System

Proper care and maintenance of your HVAC unit are crucial to its longevity. Keep your system in excellent condition by:

  • Changing air filters regularly
  • Calibrating your thermostat
  • Cleaning debris from outdoor components
  • Clearing your condensation lines
  • Scheduling regular tune-ups with an HVAC professional

A qualified HVAC technician can ensure your system is up to date and in good working order. It is recommended that you schedule an annual HVAC service to ensure energy efficiency, proper ventilation, and adequate heating and cooling no matter the time of year.

Contact Airco Service Today

Don’t wait until it’s too late to give your HVAC the care and maintenance it needs to keep you and your family comfortable at home year-round. Bring in a licensed Airco professional to keep your system working properly and maximize your energy usage.

Reach out to Airco Service to discover more about the HVAC services we can provide your home in Oklahoma or Arkansas.