Every homeowner needs to be aware of and care for their HVAC system, but many people are not really certain what that means. Here is a primer on what an HVAC system is and how to keep it functioning optimally.
Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system or HVAC system is a key component of your home. Depending on the home, it can come in a variety of shapes, sizes and types. You should be aware of what type of HVAC system you have and how to properly maintain it, as well as how to spot potential issues. Improperly maintained systems are dangerous and will cost you money. Poorly installed systems are more common than you might expect and can be dangerous and costly.
The most common type of HVAC system is a forced air heating and/or cooling system, sometimes called central air. The components to this system might include a furnace, with a combustion system that creates the heat and a blower motor that moves the heated air into the home; an air conditioning unit that cools the air through the use of a refrigerant and a blower motor that moves the cooled air through the home; the ventilation system through which the air moves to different locations in your home; and a regulatory system which controls when the system turns on and off – usually the thermostat. Although the term HVAC is used when talking about the entire system, not every home has the same components.
One of the main differences between forced air furnaces is the type of fuel that is used to operate the system. The most common types of fuel are propane gas also called liquid petroleum (LP), natural gas, oil or electricity. The fuel is used for combustion purposes to warm the air that is pumped throughout the house. No matter what type of fuel used, electricity is also used to operate other parts of the HVAC system such as the blower motor and thermostat. Similarly, air conditioners use a type of coolant to cool the air that is then forced through the ventilation system. The primary source of energy in air conditioners is electricity. You will need to know what type of fuel and coolant your system uses and the warning signs for gas or refrigerant leaks.
To ensure a well-regulated system that is functioning effectively, you will want to do regular maintenance to all parts of the system including the unit that cools or heats the air, the unit that forces the air through the ventilation system, the ventilation system itself and the thermostat. These systems can be remarkably efficient, especially if the equipment used is designed to be energy efficient, installed properly and well-maintained. However, in the US the poor installation and maintenance of these systems is one of the biggest known wastes of energy. To make sure you have the most efficient system here are some simple steps you can take.
**Fine black soot found on or around the grills is an indication of a serious issue with your furnace and could mean harmful carbon dioxide has escaped into your home. Immediately call for repair and leave the home until it has been tested and determined safe to return.