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Learn to Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk of an HVAC Expert

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I began working in the Industrial Supply Industry about 12 years ago. I became knowledgeable of the components that make up HVAC systems and worked with people who maintained them. Yet, I knew nothing about the field itself or how the parts work together until I started working for Reiner Group, Inc.

Yes, we can keep you cool in the Summer and warm in the Winter. We can ensure the air you breathe is clean and absent of impurities. We maintain your HVAC systems to make certain the temperature at home or workplace is regulated so you never feel uncomfortable in your environment. However, most of the general public has no idea what is really going on in those metal machines. What is HVAC and how does HVAC equipment work?

Basically, or as basic as it can get, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) is based on mechanical engineering, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. As I hold a degree in Marketing, I had no idea what this meant until I took time to read about the process and discuss it with some of our seasoned and talented technicians. In the simplest terms, HVAC helps to regulate inside air providing you with a safer environment in terms of temperature, humidity and air purity (free of dust, bacteria, smoke, odors and other unpleasant things).

This particular blog is about HVAC in layman’s terms. I hope to give you a better understanding of HVAC. Hopefully, you will be better prepared to discuss your heating and cooling systems the next time we come out to perform your seasonal maintenance. After all, knowledge is power! 

Air Conditioning:

  1. Evaporator- Cooling coils that remove heat and humidity from the air using refrigerant.
  2. Blower (fan)- Circulates air over the evaporator distributing the cooled air.
  3. Condenser- Releases the heat collected into the outside air.
  4. Compressor- This is a pump that moves refrigerant between the evaporator and the condenser to cool inside air.
  5. Fan (not to be confused with the blower!)- This blows air over the condenser to disperse the heat from the unit.
  6. Filter- This is located inside and helps to collect bacteria and particles from the air. A standard disposable filter is a Merv 7. If you are interested in a high efficiency filter (which would collect more allergens, bacteria and other particles), you may want to consider a Merv 11 or the hospital grade Merv 16 filter.
  7. Ductwork- A system of passages that moves cooled air throughout your home.
  8. Thermostat- The thermostat helps to regulate the inside air temperature.

Ductless Split:

A ductless split runs similarly to a central air conditioning unit without the ductwork used to pull the heated/cooled air throughout the home. One of the benefits of these units is you don’t have to cool the entire house, only the rooms where you need air. These systems have two major parts, the indoor and outdoor units along with the refrigerant that helps keep you cool.

1.Outdoor Unit-

  1. Fan- Disperses heat and cools down the coils.
  2. Compressor- Circulates refrigerant.
  3. Expansion Valve- Turns hot refrigerant into cold liquid that moves into the indoor unit to cool down the coils.

2. Indoor Unit (Air Handler)-

  1. Evaporator Coil- Contains cold refrigerant which absorbs warm air pulled in by the unit.
  2. Blower Wheel- Returns the cooled air back into the home.
  3. Filter- Catches dust, allergens and other particles so they do not pollute your home. Ductless units contain washable filters so they do not need to be replaced frequently.

Gas Furnace:

  1. Heat Exchanger- A set of coils and tubes that heats your home’s cool air.
  2. Gas Burner- Contains the pilot burner (small flame) heats the air inside the heat exchanger.
  3. Gas Manifold- Connects the burners with the gas valve.
  4. Blower Motor- Blows the heated air back into your home through your ductwork.
  5. Ductwork-  As with central air conditioning, is a system of passages that moves heated air throughout your home.

Gas Hot Water Boiler:

  1. Gas Valve- Valve inside the boiler which allows natural gas to enter a sealed combustion chamber. The gas enters a series of jets and they are ignited by an electric ignition system.The jets play onto a heat exchanger.
  2. Heat Exchanger- A device that allows heat from a fluid (in this case gas) to pass to a second fluid (water). It transfers heat without transferring fluid. The hot water runs through a water pipe to a series of a circuit of pipes that run to radiators throughout the home. After the water cools it goes back to the boiler to be heated again.
  3. Radiators-
    1. Hot Water Radiator- A hot-water radiator consists of a sealed hollow metal container filled with hot water by gravity feed, a pressure pump, or convection. As it gives out heat, the hot water cools and sinks to the bottom of the radiator and is forced out of a pipe at the other end
    1. Hot Water Baseboards- They consist of copper pipes which have aluminum fins to increase their surface area. These conduction boiler systems use conduction to transfer heat from the water into the metal radiators or convectors.

Whole House Humidifiers:

Below is an explanation of a “flow through” humidifier. It is installed directly onto your furnace.

1. Water Tap/Supply Line- A water supply line for the humidifier is tapped into an existing water pipe source.

2. Water Inlet Orifice-The orifice reduces the water flow to the humidifier inlet valve.

3. Water Inlet Valve- This valve allows water to flow to the humidifier based on demand. The valve is usually electrically operated by a solenoid controlled by the humidistat. The solenoid is usually low voltage, powered by a transformer mounted to the furnace.

4. Water Feed Tube- Distributes water and feeds water to the evaporator pad.

5. Evaporator Pad (media): This is the water collection medium that holds the water briefly as it is evaporated to create humidified air.

6. Drain Pan- Water flows through the evaporator pad and into the drain pan, where it then flows into a household drain.

7. Air Damper/Air Duct- Some models have an air duct from the hot-air side that supplies air to the humidifier mounted on the cold-air return. If the home has central air conditioning, then a damper is required.

I hope these simplified explanations help you understand your HVAC systems. Stay tuned for more!

Reiner Group Inc. lists all of our product information on our website Our website is a great source of information and if you have further questions regarding your equipment, you can chat with us online or call us at(201) 371-7980 and we would be happy to help.

Sources include: Wikipedia, and and Photo provided by 21393414

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