Most people don’t know, or care to know, what HVAC stands for, let alone what it actually is. When we’re hot or cold, we simply walk up to a little panel, push a button or two, and bingo…we have our desired internal climate! We give no thought as to how that climate magically “becomes”. We just know we like it. However, the minute the system starts acting up, we instantly start Googling what to do. “Why is my air conditioner broken?” “Why won’t the heat turn on?” “How do I fix my air conditioner?” These are the questions we ask ourselves. Eventually, we’ll stumble across the phrase “HVAC”, and understand that we must contact one of those “HVAC experts”. If you’re smart, you may do a little more research, but usually that is the extent of the situation. So for those who DO care…what is HVAC exactly?
WHAT IS HVAC?
The phrase “HVAC” is actually an acronym for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning”. It is meant to represent an industry which specializes in all three areas. Some people may rely on window units and isolated radiators to keep themselves cool or warm. If that’s the case, an HVAC system does not apply to you. If, however, you’re like a good majority of people, you rely on a complex system within your residence to maintain your ideal indoor climate. The pieces of this system make up your HVAC system. Commercial HVAC systems are more complex than residential HVAC systems.
WHAT TYPES OF HVAC SYSTEMS ARE THERE?
For residential homes, there are two different types of HVAC systems. The first is a radiant system. This system uses water that flows through pipes, and it radiates the cold or warmth that comes from the water through the system. The second type of HVAC system is a forced air system. This system relies on air being forced into ducts by a fan. This it the more conventional system that is prominent in new construction today. Forced air systems are fueled by electricity or gas.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY HVAC UNIT LAST?
The average life expectancy of an HVAC system is 15 years. Of course, this all relies on the maintenance you’ve kept up with. If you’ve not changed your filters or had your air ducts cleaned, the life expectancy of your unit can be considered to be less than that of 15 years.
HOW DO I TELL IF I NEED REPAIRS OR REPLACEMENT FOR MY HVAC SYSTEM?
This is something that is best left to HVAC experts to determine. While there is certainly a bit of sleuth work you can do on your own, the real assessment should come from a professional. You can, for instance, determine that while your air conditioner did not turn on, you discovered that a line connected to your compressor was torn from the unit. This will aid in the HVAC professional’s prognosis of your system.
Having a decent education of what the HVAC system is and how it functions can give you a solid background to know what to do and what not to do when it comes to your unit. You’ll know enough to understand the importance of regular maintenance, to understand an estimate/quote given to you by a professional, and even enough to do some minor troubleshooting. On the other hand, you’ll know not to try and repair your unit on your own, you’ll know what filters not to use, and what HVAC companies not to trust.