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The Complete HVAC Guide: Easy Answers to Hard Questions

The Complete HVAC Guide: Easy Answers to Hard QuestionsIf you are new to homeownership, learning about HVACs and furnace and air conditioning maintenance can seem daunting – or even boring. But never fear, you’ve come to the right place, because we at StayComfy Heating and Air Conditioning want to arm you with the knowledge you need to understand your system. Your Complete HVAC guide is filled with simple, but crucial, stuff. No over-your-head info here.

Did we lose you yet? Good. We’ll make it easy, starting with basic questions.

What is an HVAC?

Don’t feel silly asking, we know you can get the answer with a Google search, but who wants to wade through all the mucky muck?

An HVAC is the whole system that helps you stay comfortable in your home.

HVAC stands for Heating (H), Ventilating (V) and Air Conditioning (AC). It refers to the whole system that heats, cools and conditions the air in your house – keeping you comfy no matter the season. The components that make up your HVAC are typically a furnace, air conditioner, thermostat (controls), ductwork, and vents/grilles. Some people have additional components like heat pumps, humidifiers, air cleaners, and UV lamps. These are not necessary to make your HVAC system work, but they are great add-ons for comfort. (If you’d like to learn more about what they do, click here to see our products page.)

How Does An HVAC Work?

The answer to this depends on what type of HVAC system you have, but the most common systems in Minnesota homes have a furnace and a ‘split’ air conditioning system (split meaning the AC equipment is literally split up in two different locations – outside and inside.) That’s what we’ll focus on.

Here is the basic version of how a gas furnace works:

  1. Takes in cold air.
  2. Cleans it through an air filter (removes debris, allergens, and particles from outside).
  3. Heats air with a gas burner.
  4. Pushes warm heated air through ductwork in your house to warm you.
  5. Once the air cools, it goes back to the furnace through return air grilles (found near floors) and ductwork.
  6. Repeat.

Pretty simple, right? For the less simple version of how a furnace works, click here. (Don’t worry, there are pictures!) 

A split air conditioning system works in much the same way your refrigerator does. It uses energy/fuel to transfer heat from inside, and pushes the warm air to an outside environment, leaving the inside cooler. For your fridge, the hot air gets pushed into your house, and for your AC, it gets transferred outdoors. We have a longer version on how your AC system works, too, if you’d like to check that out here.

What Else Should You Know?

Here are a few more bullet points and links to help you know the basics of your HVAC.

Change your filters regularly – every month depending on your usage and type of filter.

Hire a pro to perform regular maintenance and checkups – at least twice a year (fall/spring), but once every other year for a good HVAC cleaning.

Before calling a pro, you can learn some of the more common terms to help you understand what a technician is talking about.


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