Air conditioning and heating can be very confusing to beginners. Read this HVAC for dummies article, provided by the trusted HVAC professionals at Complete Air Mechanical, and learn HVAC in less than five minutes.
Is it surprising that the average person cares very little about how their air conditioning actually works? Of course not, our plates are filled with enough activity from trying to excel at our businesses or jobs, caring for our family, volunteering our time, and hopefully staying fit and healthy.
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What Does HVAC Stand For?
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This acronym describes three functions combined into one AC system in today’s modern homes and buildings.
Air Conditioning for Dummies
Okay, now comes the time to actually learn something. Since one of the most powerful ways to learn is to build off of something you are extremely familiar with, we will compare an HVAC system to the human body. The language we will use is related to the average system in a single family home in Florida. Let’s learn a little.
The AC compressor is the Heart – That box outside your house that you may think is the entire air conditioning system is just one of many pieces of equipment involved in cooling your home. Inside of it contains a vessel that looks like an upside down bucket or perhaps something Darth Vader would wear as a helmet. This item pumps refrigerant/freon through the entire system. If this heart/compressor dies, then you may need ‘heart surgery’ or more.
Refrigerant (Freon) is the Blood – What does the heart pump through our body…. well blood/freon of course. Blood transfers/transports many things just as refrigerant changes state to provide cooling.
Line Sets/Coils are the Veins – Coming out of the compressor/heart are copper lines that feed the refrigerant into and back out of the house. This is a close looped system. Freon (refrigerant) is pumped out of the compressor (heart) into the home and then returns to a different state ready to be pumped back through. Is Freon/blood leaking out? Then we need to seal the veins. Depending on the region, veins can be very difficult or nearly impossible to repair.
Filter Dryer is the Liver/Kidney – Just as our own body filters itself the filter dryer on an air conditioning system removes any unnecessary (non-nutritious) particles. The filter dryer is located right next to the condenser (box outside).
Condenser operates like our Sweat Glands – Your body needs a way to cool down when working out. Your A/C’s refrigerant needs to cool down as well because it absorbs heat. That box outside your home is there to cool down the refrigerant before it goes into the compressor. That’s why the fan is running. It’s hot. It is looped in a coil pattern to increase surface area allowing maximum ability to cool down. You should not see sweat on your condenser. If you are seeing ice on the unit, you should shut it down and call a professional.
Thermostat is the Brain – We think you get this one.
Control Board is the Central Nervous System – The thermostat communicates to both the condenser and the furnace (which is where the control board is placed). The central nervous system is an amazing part of our biology that operates without conscious effort. The HVAC system must work in unison with all pieces of equipment. Without a central nervous system, the home won’t cool or heat properly. Sometimes the CNS can get fried and need a replacement put in.
Blower Motors are the Legs – Ultimately the blower motor which is in your furnace/air handler is the item that actually moves air in the home. Blower motors are fans that move air as our legs allow us to walk/run.
Ducts are the Feet – We admit we are stretching for this one but open your mind a bit. Give your feet a little more credit. They are where the rubber meets the road and movement finally occurs through for walking and running.
Drain Lines are the Urinary Tract – The air conditioning system naturally condensates. This condensation must go somewhere. It moves moisture away from the unit typically into a sink and/or expels water out of the home. A clog in this system typically requires a quick fix.
Evaporator Coil functions like Lungs – When the blower motor is running (get it? double entendre?), it sends air across the evaporator coil. Pulling warmer air from the house (via the return air). The coil absorbs heat and moisture from the home allowing for the air to be cooled and then distributed via ductwork throughout. Our lungs absorb oxygen, changing the state of the air. The evaporator coil is housed in the furnace/air handler and typically placed in the attic, closet, or garage in Florida homes.
Return Air is Inhaling – Air being taken into the AC system. Typically always near the thermostat/brain.
Supply Air is Exhaling – Air being blown back out into the home via the ductwork distributed throughout the house.
Contact Complete Air Mechanical for Air Conditioning Service
Yes, we know we stretched some of these a bit, but the purpose of this is to foster HVAC understanding and promote conversation for everyone. This is just one way to understand air conditioning systems. We hope you found this information helpful.