What Is An HVAC System?

First and foremost, HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This system provides heating and cooling to residential and commercial buildings. You can find HVAC systems anywhere from single-family homes to submarines where they provide the means for environmental comfort.

The V in HVAC, or ventilation, is the process of replacing or exchanging air within a space. This provides a better quality of air indoors and involves the removal of moisture, smoke, odors, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, carbon dioxide, and other gases as well as temperature control and oxygen replenishment.


How Does An HVAC System Work

The three main functions of an HVAC system are interrelated, especially when providing acceptable indoor air quality and thermal comfort. Your heating and air conditioning system is often one of the most complicated and extensive systems in your home, but when it stops working you’ll know soon enough! There are nine parts to your HVAC system that you should be familiar with the air return, filter, exhaust outlets, ducts, electrical elements, outdoor unit, compressor, coils and blower.


Air Return

Your air return is the starting point of the ventilation cycle. This return sucks air in, draws it through a filter, and then passes it to the main system. Keeping these clean and unobstructed allows them to remain efficient.



Your filter is the second part of the air return in which the air is drawn through. Using proper filters maintaining good filter changing habits are critical to long lasting systems.


Exhaust Outlets

Another part of your system is the exhaust outlets where the exhaust created by the heating system is expelled. Annual inspections are advised due to the consequences of small carbon monoxide leaks.



Your ducts are the channels in which the heated or cooled air passes through. Getting your ducts cleaned every 2 to 5 years is a great way to help keep your system clean and free of problems.


Electrical Elements

This part of your system can be a bit trickier, but often problems originate here first. Checking breakers and the main power switch is about as far as we advise you to go, alone.


Outdoor Unit

This is likely the part of your system you think of when someone mentions an AC system. Keeping the cage and fan clean will allow this unit to run most efficiently.



As a part of the outdoor unit, the compressor is responsible for converting refrigerant from a gas to liquid and sends it to the coils.



Usually another part of the outdoor unit, coils cool the air as it passes through with a little help from the refrigerant. Checking your coils annually will help prevent them from freezing up, which can be caused by your filter and/or refrigerant levels.



The blower draws in warm air through the main section of the unit. Keeping this part clean and clear of air flow obstructions will help to prevent premature failures.


Which HVAC Brand Is Best?

There are quite a few front runners in the HVAC world, but more importantly than brand is how well was the unit installed? A great system can fail prematurely from a bad install. In the same as a cheaper system can be installed properly and last longer than it’s full life expectancy. Brand may be important but make sure the installation is done correct, regardless of brand choice.


How Many Years Does An HVAC System Last

Now that you understand exactly what an HVAC system consists of, you’re probably wondering how long a new one will last you. This really depends on the equipment and the installation of that equipment to know how long the system will last. But, if you keep up with your recommended annual maintenance your equipment will last you for years and years to come.


Are you looking to replace your existing HVAC system? Or maybe you’re looking to add one altogether? Call your local heating and air conditioning professionals at APEX CLEAN AIR!

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