What is HVAC? Understanding the ABCs of HVAC

Homeowners know that their HVAC system is integral to keeping their house comfortable throughout the year. But what exactly is HVAC?

“HVAC” stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. In short, it’s the system that keeps your home at a comfortable temperature by circulating heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.

Three Components of HVAC Systems

There are three main components to HVAC systems: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Each component plays a vital role in keeping your home or office comfortable.


Heating is the process of raising the temperature of an enclosed space. This can be done through a variety of methods, including furnaces, fireplaces, and heat pumps.


In most cases, heating is used to make a space comfortable during the year’s colder months.

Heating systems can be divided into two categories: central heating and local heating. Central heating systems distribute heat through a network of ducts, while local heating systems direct heat to specific areas.

Central heating is often used in large buildings, while local heating is more common in smaller spaces such as homes and apartments.

Electricity is the most common heat source for central heating systems, while natural gas is the most common source of heat for local heating systems.



The exchange of air between indoors and outdoors is known as ventilation. For a building to be healthy and comfortable, it’s important that the air inside is fresh and free of pollutants.

Ventilation is important for two reasons: to remove stale air from indoors and bring fresh air into the building.

There are two types of ventilation: natural and mechanical. Natural ventilation relies on open windows and doors to circulate air, while mechanical ventilation uses fans and other devices to force air movement.

Mechanical ventilation is often used in buildings where natural ventilation is not possible, such as hospitals and office buildings.

Most of the time, ventilation systems in homes and other buildings combine natural and mechanical ventilation.

In industrial settings, ventilation is often used to remove hazardous fumes and gases from the work area. In these cases, it’s important to have a well-designed ventilation system that can safely remove these pollutants.

Air Conditioning

The last component of HVAC systems is air conditioning, which is the process of cooling and dehumidifying the air. Air conditioners work by circulating coolant through a system of coils. As the coolant evaporates, it absorbs heat from the surrounding air, lowering the temperature.

Air conditioners can be used to cool space for a short period of time, or they can be used to maintain a comfortable temperature all year long. In most cases, air conditioners are used with other HVAC components, such as furnaces and ventilation systems.

While air conditioning is most commonly used in homes and office buildings, it’s also used in various other settings, such as hospitals, schools, and factories.

How to Maintain Your HVAC System

Proper HVAC maintenance is essential for two reasons: to keep your system running smoothly and prevent costly repairs. There are a few simple things you can do to keep your HVAC system in good working condition.

1) Clean Filters on a Regular Basis

One of the easiest ways to keep your HVAC system running smoothly is to clean the filters on a regular basis. Dirty filters can cause the system to work harder, which can lead to decreased efficiency and higher energy costs.

Most filters should be cleaned every month or two, depending on how often they are used. Some filters can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner, while others need to be washed with soap and water.

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning instructions.

You should also clean the coils on your air conditioner at least once a year. Coils can be cleaned with a garden hose or special coil cleaner.

2) Schedule Annual Maintenance

Despite regular cleaning, filters and coils will eventually need to be replaced. It’s a good idea to schedule annual maintenance with a qualified HVAC technician to ensure that your system is running properly.

During annual maintenance, the technician will check all of the components of your system and make any necessary repairs. They will also clean the ducts and coils and replace the filters.

Scheduling annual maintenance is an excellent way to prevent costly repairs down the road.

3) Keep the Area Around Your HVAC Unit Clear

It’s essential to keep the area around your HVAC unit clear of debris and other objects. If the unit is blocked, it won’t be able to circulate air properly. Be sure to remove any weeds, leaves, or other objects that may be blocking the unit. You should also trim any trees or shrubs that are near the unit.

4) Use the Correct Size Filter

Misuse and overuse of filters is a common problem. It’s important to use the correct size filter for your HVAC system. If you use a filter that is too small, it will not be able to do its job properly.

If you use a filter that is too large, it will restrict airflow and cause the system to work harder. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when choosing a filter.

5) Don’t Cover the Vents

It’s important to not cover the vents on your HVAC unit. If the vents are blocked, the system will not be able to circulate air properly. Be sure to keep furniture and other objects away from the vents.

Other Important Things You Need to Know About Your HVAC System

In addition to regular maintenance, there are a few other things you need to know about your HVAC system.

Understanding How Your System Works

You need to know how your system works to troubleshoot it when something goes wrong. This means understanding the basic components of your HVAC system and how they work together.

Knowing how to troubleshoot fundamental issues can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

When to Call a Professional

Some issues are best left to the professionals. If you’re not sure how to troubleshoot your system, or if you think the problem is more serious, it’s always best to call a professional.

HVAC professionals have the training and experience to handle any issue with your system.


An integral part of any home, the HVAC system is responsible for keeping us cool in the summer and warm in the winter. While you don’t need to be a pro to maintain your system, there are a few things you can do to keep it running smoothly.

Clean the filters regularly, schedule annual maintenance, and keep the area around the unit clear. And remember, if you’re not sure how to fix something, always call a professional.