What Does HVAC Stand For?

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

What does “HVAC” stand for?

What does “HVAC” stand for?


The acronym “HVAC” stands for “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning”.

In the industry, we hear this term thrown around often and many customers might know that the “H” stands for heat, or that the “AC” stands for air conditioning, but the “V” is what throws people the most. It’s the ventilation that is the process of exchanging air in a space and is in most cases exchanging air in one’s entire home. That forced air exchange is what makes HVAC so effective. Imagine how chill some rooms would get in the wintertime if there was just one heat source like a wood stove in one corner of a 3,000 sqft home if you will. The extra heat needed to be created in the immediate vicinity of the stove would have to be quite hot in order to warm up the air in the far corners of the complete home. 


The process of this exchanging of air has a great side effect. Not only are you getting fresh clean air, but it also removes humidity in a home which contributes in a large way to felt comfort when it comes to room temperature. In fact in many areas of the country many homeowners cool homes by just dehumidifying the interior living space.
HVAC Diagram of how it works
HVAC Diagram of how it works

How Do HVAC Systems Work?

There are 3 functions of HVAC systems that are tightly related and help elevate indoor air quality and maintain comfortable temps inside. Your HVAC system is likely the most extensive and complicated mechanical system in your home. Many homeowners are unaware of what the different indoor and outdoor units are, but if they ever stop working you’ll certainly know it fast. There are many different functioning components of your heating and air system that work together. As a homeowner, it’s a good idea to have a base knowledge of each of these in order to know the importance of each one as well as familiarize the maintenance required to be done either by you or a professional. 


Here’s a complete list of the major components:
    1. Blower/Air Handler – The blower is located in the air handler and draws in air from the rooms in your home via the air return vents. Blowers are actually referred to as air handlers sometimes but you could think of the blowers as a fan and the air handler as a box that has the fan inside of it. So the return the blower is connected to is strategically placed in your home and depending on the construction of your home they might be on the ceiling, walls, or floors. As a given rule you don’t run returns through concrete so if your house is built on a slab foundation then your return and blower are going to be in a closet or attic.
    2. Air Return – The air return is connected to the blower and it is mainly referred to as the opening where the air return starts even though the air return is itself a ductwork that routes back to the blower and is also insulated in order to reduce condensation forming. Without insulation, or if the insulation is improperly installed or destroyed, then you can get condensation dripping out of your return vents.
    3. Filter – In most HVAC systems the filter goes on the opening of the air return with a grate or grill to be held in place. The 1″-2″ filters should be replaced every 1-3 months. There are some systems designed that can be replaced at the blower and accommodate much thicker filters that can get away with being replaced only every year. These much larger filter sets at the blower can also be installed later if you wish. The filter does the job of capturing dust from going into the mechanical unit of the blower and causing problems with electrical components and bearings inside the air handler.
    4. Ductwork – The opening of the air return uses ducts to carry air to the air handler and also the ductwork carries the cool air (in an AC cycle) back out the vents in the rooms of the home. These ducts are usually sized accordingly for each room, flexible so they can be routed easily in your attic or under your crawlspace, and are insulated to reduce energy loss.
    5. Condenser – Usually when someone mentions an HVAC system this is the unit they think of because they see it outside. The outdoor unit actually houses the compressor, the unit fan, and the actual condenser. The AC condenser works like the radiator in a car in conjunction with a fan to dump heat from the hot Freon in the lines created by the action of the compressor increasing the pressure of the Freon. This dumping of the heat is what cools the Freon in the lines again. The Freon then gets sent back to the coil in the air handler to let the warm air from the rooms pass through again to cool.
    6. Compressor – The compressor compresses the Freon to be under high pressure in the condenser. This high pressure creates heat which is dissipated via the cooling fins on the condenser and the fan helping the heat radiate away. This action of heat being dissipated under pressure and then released from that pressure is what causes the cooling action of the Freon. (note, this is also how a refrigerator works)
    7. Evaporator Coils – The evaporator coils are located in the air handler. These coils look similar to a radiator as well except rather than being used to dump heat, they have the cold Freon in them coming from the Condenser outside and the action of the warm air from inside the home passing over the coils cools the air and in-turn heats the Freon a little before it gets sent back to the Condenser again.
    8. Exhaust Outlets – Many HVAC systems have a furnace and exhaust outlets that exit out the roof. This allows the poisonous gasses to be safely exited from your home, much like a chimney does for a wood stove.
    9. Electrical Components – To keep all of these systems functioning properly there are control boards, relays, digital circuits, monitoring circuits, damper controls, and your thermostat.

If you think you have problems with your HVAC or that it might be time for an upgrade to a new unit, give us a call. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your thermostat settings. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? give us a call 704-684-5339


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