• Your System Explained

  • Ever wonder how your heating and cooling system works?

    They say a picture paints a thousand words... we agree! Below you will find detailed illustrations showing exactly want it takes to keep your home comfortable - as long as everything is working properly.

  • Heating and cooling are two of the most important concepts of home ownership. In fact, heating and cooling systems are major factors for those looking to purchase homes, and are a critical part of living comfortably in a home.

    You may frequently hear the term "HVAC," which is used to describe home heating and cooling systems. The acronym stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning–which are the 3 primary functions of a home system. They control air temperature and humidity, and maintain the quality of the air in the home.

  • Central Systems

    Heating and cooling systems may be classified as central or local. Central heating and cooling is the most standard method, and is defined by a system that produces warm or cool air in one central area and then distributes it throughout the home. There are many types of systems that work as central systems, from traditional split systems to packaged product systems.

    Products typically used in central heating and cooling systems include:

    • Heat Pumps
    • Air Conditioners
    • Gas and Oil Furnaces
    • Fan Coils
    • Evaporator Coils
    • Single Packaged Products
    • Controls and Thermostats

    Local heating and cooling, on the other hand, produces warm or cool air at the location where it is needed and serves small spaces. Room Air Conditioners and Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTAC) are examples of local heating and cooling.

  • Furnaces

    A forced-air furnace has four main sections:

    1. The blower chamber;
    2. The combustion chamber;
    3. The return duct;
    4. and the supply duct.

    When your thermostat calls for heat, the burners will kick on and begin to heat up the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger contains all the dangerous gases produced by combustion and vents them through the exhaust stack. When the heat exchanger gets hot enough, the blower starts. The blower pulls cooled air through the return duct, passes it over the warm heat exchanger and returns the warmed air to the rooms. Furnaces vary quite a bit in design, so yours may be somewhat different from this illustration. If confused, consult your service manual or a heating professional. Heat pumps, on the other hand, work more like a central air conditioner than like a furnace.

    The diagram shows a typical Gas Furnace unit. Not all units will look or be configured exactly as shown, but the basic principles are the same or similar.

  • Heating

    When it comes to furnaces, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. To help you avert the hassle of your furnace's dying or simply not putting out enough heat—just when you need it most. Heating systems keep your home warm and comfortable. If you live in a particularly cold climate, the function of your heating system is a high priority.

    Most central heating and cooling systems are classified as forced air systems, because they send air through ductwork for distribution. The ductwork can contain products that filter or clean the air.

    Radiant systems create heat and deliver it using components such as radiators that distribute the heat into the home. Boilers are a traditional radiant heat source. Typical heating products include:

    • Heat Pumps
    • Gas and Oil Furnaces
    • Fan Coils
    • Boilers
    • Single Packaged Products
  • Cooling

    Whole-home air conditioning systems are central systems that rely on ducts to deliver cooled air throughout the home. An air-conditioning system provides cooling, ventilation, humidity control and even heating (if using a Heat Pump) for a home. Air conditioning units cool refrigerants like Puron Refrigerant and Freon and deliver them to evaporator coils, which dissipate the refrigerant and blow cool air into ducts for delivery throughout the home.

    Products such as room air conditioners are local cooling options for smaller areas within homes. Instead of delivering cooled refrigerant to a coil and then to ductwork, a room air conditioner contains all the components in a single unit and blows air directly into a room.

    Air-conditioned homes often have sealed windows, because open windows would disrupt the attempts of the control system to maintain constant temperature.

    • Typical air conditioning products include:
    • Heat Pumps Central Air Conditioners
    • Evaporator Coils
    • Room Air Conditioners
    • Single Packaged Products
  • Thermostats

    The term "thermostat" commonly refers to any unit that controls the operation of a heating and cooling system. Thermostats are used to turn on heating or cooling systems to bring the home to a set temperature. In addition to basic temperature control, programmable thermostats can be used to manage the timing of the system's functions, which can control overall energy use and costs.

  • Symptoms That Call for a Heating Professional

    Symptom 1: Short Cycling
    When your furnace runs for only short periods (less than three minutes) before shutting off, the problem is called short cycling. This happens when the thermostat is out of adjustment or when the heat exchanger overheats and the burner automatically shuts off to prevent damage.

    Symptom 2: Irregular Flame
    Properly functioning burners have fairly even rows of flames. If the flames are uneven or lean toward the back of the furnace, call in a pro. It could be a sign of dirty burners or a cracked heat exchanger.

    Symptom 3: Odd Noises or Rumbling
    While rumbling and popping aren't cause for concern in a hot water or steam heating system, they shouldn't be present if you have forced-air heat.

  • Gas Furnace Only

    Heating Your Home
    Frequent headaches or flu-like symptoms can be a sign of combustion gases leaking from a cracked heat exchanger or carbon monoxide leaking from an exhaust stack. With these symptoms, have your heating system checked out even if your carbon monoxide alarm remains silent.

    Symptom 5: Soot Deposits
    Soot is a fine black powder that collects when combustion is incomplete. Its presence may indicate that your burners need adjusting or that you have a cracked heat exchanger that needs replacing.