HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It’s 3 systems in one (although not all homes have all 3 systems in place).
- There’s the Heating System, which is the furnace. It draws in fresh air, heats it and pushes that air through a filter and out into your house. Some homes have electric heat, others have oil heat and others have natural gas.
- There’s the Air Conditioning System, which is your air conditioner. It draws in fresh air, runs that air over cold coils, and then pushes that air out into your house. Some homes have an external air conditioning unit, others have a window unit that is not actually connected to your ventilation system (but just cools the air in the room), and some homes don’t have any air conditioning.
- There’s the Ventilation System, which includes your ductwork that runs through the walls, delivering hot or cold air to each room.
These 3 systems work together to make sure your home is as warm or as cool as you want. Some can be very complex (including special filters and programmable thermostats) and others can be very simple.
So, what do you need to know about your system?
First, it’s good to be familiar with where your furnace and air conditioner are located. Second, it’s good to know which circuits power the plugs that your furnace and air conditioner use (so you can shut them off if necessary). Third, it’s good to know if there are filters that each system uses so that you can clean and replace them regularly.
Here’s what to do with your system regularly:
#1. Make sure your system runs from time to time. Use your sense of sight, smell, and hearing to detect anything unusual about your system. (Note: if you are starting your system up after a long time of not running, you may detect a very slight burning smell, which is probably a light accumulation of dust on the heating unit. As long as it disappears quickly, this is usually nothing to worry about, although you should call your local HVAC company if you are at all concerned.
#2. Keep vents clear. There are intake vents where fresh air is drawn in, and exhaust vents where warmed or cooled air is pushed out. Keep these vents clear so you can create circulation throughout your home.
#3. Have your ducts cleaned regularly. Dirty ducts will distribute dust and allergens throughout the house, and plug up your furnace filter. Clean ducts will move warmed or cooled air freely.
#4. Clean your filters regularly (about every 1-3 months) and replace them regularly (about every 3-4 months) for maximum efficiency and the cleanest air.
#5. Check for cold spots or hot spots. Your home should be comfortable but sometimes you may find that some areas of your home are colder or warmer than others. This can be fixed by running fans or by calling your local HVAC company to see what they recommend.
#6. Have your local HVAC company service your HVAC system regularly and recommend ways to improve efficiency and cost savings. They probably have many tools and strategies that you weren’t even aware of, which can help you save money and breathe easier.
Your HVAC system may seem like a complicated system but it’s really quite simple. It warms or cools the air, and it moves the air around your house, all so you can keep your family safer and more comfortable. Get to know your system and learn how to keep it running smoothly and you’ll enjoy it for a long time to come.