Your home’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system is one of the most important things to make sure you maintain in a home. Without it, you risk inadequate ventilation, air filtration, and temperature control. And no one wants to live in a cold, musty home in the middle of the winter or a hot, muggy home in the middle of the summer!
However, if you’re like many homeowners, you probably just know the basics of how to use your HVAC system without knowing how to maintain one or even know when it’s broken. And that’s perfectly fine too- you don’t have to know everything there is to know about your HVAC system!
Today, we’re here to talk all about your HVAC system and how best to care for it in order to preserve its lifespan. We’ll first talk about what’s even included in an HVAC system, so you have a better understanding of what to expect when you have to have maintenance performed on it. Then, we’ll give you our top care tips so your system can be used for as long as possible.
What’s Even In An HVAC System, Anyways?
As we briefly mentioned earlier, HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These systems work together in order to filter your air and provide air ventilation throughout your home, all while keeping temperatures in your preferred air temperature range.
There are many different components that make up a home’s HVAC system, all having their own functions. Here, we’ll talk about those different parts so you have a better understanding of how your HVAC system works in your home.
The Main Unit
The main unit of your home’s HVAC system is usually either your air conditioner, furnace, or heating pump. Most modern homes nowadays have heat pumps or air conditioners (or both) that either warm or cool the air as you prefer.
Some main units are attached to the wall or through a window, avoiding the usage of any ductwork or other internal components that need to be built into a home’s shell or foundation. Instead, they’re simply plugged in and ready to grab the outside air to cool or warm up as you need.
A heat exchanger is exactly what it sounds to be- it helps pump warm air throughout your home when you turn a thermostat to the hot air setting. How the heat exchanger works depends on the type of fuel that heats the air. If the air is warmed by electricity, electric coils heat the air and the heat exchanger transfers the heat to the metal walls inside of it. From there, other HVAC components take charge and distribute the warm air throughout your home.
If your home is heated by gas or oil, burners in the heat exchanger heat the air and push it to metal walls, where it is later distributed by other HVAC components. You can think of the heat exchanger as a type of translator. It takes air from one source, changes it by heating it up, then pushes it outwards to other components so the newly heated air can go throughout your home.
The condenser unit is the large, boxy looking unit that sits outside your home. Its function is to either collect heat or release it, depending on the season and time of year. You can think of a condenser unit as the outside portion of your heat pump or air conditioner. The condenser unit itself has a few different components, and they all work to either heat or cool air depending on whether or not you have a heat pump or air conditioner.
If you have a heat pump as the main unit in your HVAC system, the condenser unit collects hot gas that’s pumped to it. This gas is then passed through coils and other components to provide heat into your home.
If you use an air conditioner as your main HVAC system unit, your refrigerant liquid is consistently cooled as a fan blows across the unit’s coils. During this process, the liquid is consistently turned into cool air that dissipates throughout your home. After the condenser unit collects more air again, the process repeats, providing your home with consistently cool air.
The blower motor is the component of your HVAC system that distributes the hot or cold air throughout your home. It takes in the air through the main unit (heat pump, furnace, or air conditioner) and blows it into your home, distributing it evenly throughout.
This component is one of the most important HVAC components, because if it is dirty, dusty, or obstructed, it could cause the conditioned air to be unequally distributed, which no one wants!
As you may know, the thermostat is the component that communicates your desired air temperature with the rest of the HVAC system. There are many different types of thermostats, ranging from smart thermostats to thermostats that simply have up or down buttons to control temperature.
After you raise or lower the temperature on your thermostat, it communicates this change in air temperature with the rest of your HVAC system using sensors that lie in the HVAC system throughout your home.
This component only applies to your home if you use a furnace as the main unit to your HVAC system. Combustion chambers are what take your fuel source and perform a combustion reaction in order to create heated air that’s dispensed throughout your home.
Evaporator coils are part of the condensing unit that sits outside your home.The coils themselves are indoors, though. These coils are what cools the air that passes through them, with help from the refrigerant.
Ducts and Vents
Although separate things, ducts and vents are what function together in order to pass the cool or warm air throughout your home.
Ductwork is located inside of your ceiling and your walls and typically consists of hollow tubes. Vents lay at the exit points of the ductwork, and are what allows the air to be distributed throughout your home. The vents usually have slits in them that can be controlled to either let more or less air throughout them depending on personal preference.
Your refrigerant lines carry a cool liquid or gas in an insulated copper tube. It is what connects the condenser unit outside to the evaporator coils inside.The gas or liquid that’s inside these lines are what helps the condenser units and coils to heat up or cool down the air, depending on the time of year it is.
Rowbel Services’ Top HVAC System Care Tips
Now that you’ve got a better idea of the different components involved making an HVAC system work, let’s take a look at some of our top tips to keep your entire HVAC system functioning for as long as it can.
Schedule Regular Maintenance Appointments
The most important piece of preventive maintenance that you can do to preserve the state of your HVAC system is to schedule regular maintenance appointments. Rowbel Services recommends that you schedule these appointments twice a year. One can be scheduled for the spring to prepare for the warm summer season, and the other should be scheduled in the fall, to prepare for the cold, winter season.
Although it may seem like a drag, there are many benefits to scheduling these regular tune ups. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that the HVAC specialist helping you will catch any minor or major pieces that don’t function right or that are downright broken all together. This way, you can have these items repaired ahead of time so you aren’t struggling to get repairs done during the warm and cold months when you need your HVAC system the most.
Another reason to schedule regular tune ups is that it can prevent other costly repairs down the road. By ensuring everything is working how it should, you can prevent breakdowns or repairs from having to be done later on. Plus, it’s always good to have the peace of mind that your HVAC system works and is prepared for the seasons ahead.
Change Your Filters Regularly
Your filters lay just inside the opening to your vents inside your home. It is highly important to change these regularly, depending on the specific filter’s lifespan. Most HVAC systems either use 30-day or 90-day filters. If you’re in doubt, you can change them every couple of months.
Filters are a highly important part of your HVAC system and keep the air that comes into your home clean. It can catch debris, dust, dirt, pollen, and many other things. The longer the filter sits unchanged means the larger amount of things can get caught in it. If you let the filter go long enough, its functioning will begin to break down, and it won’t be as useful.
Regularly Clean Your Vents and Other Registers
This maintenance tip ties right into the filter tip we just talked about. However, it is often overlooked. Many homeowners change their filters and think they’re good to go. And while changing filters definitely helps preserve air quality, it’s always good to clean the vents and registers directly behind the filters.
Vents and registers are also prone to collecting dust, dirt, debris, and other bacterial items. If it isn’t cleaned, these items continue to pile up and get in the way of your home having clean air. Performing a good cleaning every couple of months can go a long way to ensure you get as most life out of your HVAC system as possible.
If you have issues cleaning your vents and registers or changing your filters, feel free to contact us at Rowbel Services. We will have your systems up and running in no time!
Regularly Check Your Condenser Unit For Any Damage
As you now know, your condenser unit is the unit that sits outside your home. This means that it is prone to the elements of the outside, which could be quite harsh depending on where you live. We recommend periodically inspecting your condenser unit for visible damage or obstructions, to ensure everything is working as it should.
If you catch something caught in it or part of it being broken, you should schedule an HVAC appointment right away so it can be fixed before more breakage occurs.
Consider Investing in a Smart Thermostat
This tip is one that is helpful to homeowners who can afford to do so, but not necessary by any means. If you have the means, investing in a smart thermostat can help heavily by monitoring the amount of heating and cooling you do as well as when you can heat and cool air at various times of the day to get the best results out of your HVAC system.
Most smart thermostats let you program times in which to run cool or warm air through, so you don’t have to have your HVAC system running 24/7.
Take Advantage of the Fans’ “Auto” Functions
Your fans inside of your HVAC unit generally have three settings. The “On” setting lets the fan run regardless of whether or not your air conditioner or heater is running. The “Auto” function only runs the fan while the heating and cooling is taking place. The “Off” function completely turns the fan off.
By using the “Auto” function, you won’t have air blowing through your HVAC system all day, and only when you really need it. If you leave the fan on all the time, you risk clogging filters, ductwork, and using a lot of electricity or other resources. The “Auto” function can potentially save you lots of time and money in the long run, because you won’t have to have so many repairs performed on your system.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts that go towards making something as simple as your HVAC system function in your home. If even one part of the system goes down or doesn’t function as it normally should, the whole system could be affected. We get it, too- repairs can get costly, especially if the fix is something that could’ve been prevented. However, we recognize that understanding all there is to know about HVAC systems is confusing.
We hope that after reading this article, you’re better equipped with both knowledge about how your HVAC system works as well as how to implement preventive care tips. This way, your HVAC system’s lifespan will be at the highest it can be. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Rowbel Services by clicking this link.