Look, the HVAC industry can feel a little exclusive when you’re not up to date on some of the unique terminologies we use. If you’re frustrated hearing an HVAC technician say that your “heat exchanger needs to be replaced” or that your air conditioner “needs more R-410A” then you’re not alone. These terms are essential for the work we do, but homeowners are often kept out of the loop and you’re just told to trust the pros.
Well, we believe that knowledge is power. We’re not just invested in providing quality work for you and your home, but we want our homeowners to be invested in their HVAC systems as well. The more we can teach you about HVAC terminology, the better off you’ll be when you encounter a problem. Plus, maybe you’ll teach one of our technicians a thing or two about the industry that you work in, and we can call it even!
A Handy Glossary
In order for you to be a responsible HVAC system owner, you need to know how it works and some handy terms that relate to the components. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a furnace or a heat pump, every HVAC system constructed in the 21st century is complex and houses a number of intricate components. Here are 8 terms to be familiar with.
- Heat exchanger. Firstly, if you’re the owner of a gas furnace, then you’ve got a heat exchanger in your home. This little clam-shaped device is responsible for exchanging heat from the toxic, fume-riddled air of combustion to the healthy and breathable air of your home. Without it, we would constantly be breathing in carbon monoxide, smoke, and other toxins that can come from burning fuel. If this component encounters an issue, it’s important to get it fixed right away!
- Efficiency. The efficiency of your heater installation in Whitefish, MT is measured depending on the system. Heat pumps are measured via HSPF, while furnaces have an efficiency rating of AFUE. The higher the number is on the efficiency rating, the less fuel or energy the system has to use to achieve maximum comfort levels in your home.
- Programmable thermostat. What’s the difference between a programmable thermostat and a regular thermostat? Programmable systems can be set to change without the need for any input from you. You can set comfort schedules that change depending on the time of day, week, or month.
- Refrigerant. (R-410A and R-22) If you’ve got an air conditioner or a heat pump, then it uses refrigerant. R-22, also known as Freon has been slowly phased out since 2020. It’s bad for the environment and it’s also become incredibly expensive. R-410A is much better and is the most widely used refrigerant for heat pump systems.
- Capacitor. The capacitor is a component that signals via electricity for your HVAC system to start or stop. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a gas furnace, it still uses an electric capacitor to run!
- Short Cycling. If your HVAC system is running in short, frequent cycles, this is a bad phenomenon known as short cycling. It can wear down components and cause your HVAC system to lose efficiency.
- Forced-air heating. Forced-air heating just refers to any heating system that heats the air instead of via thermal radiance. Furnaces and heat pumps count as forced-air heaters.
- Compressor. The compressor is the heart of your air conditioner or heat pump. It’s what pressurizes the refrigerant to transfer heat from one area to another. This component is also the most expensive to replace.