DIY Tips From the Warner Service Blog

HVAC System Anatomy 101

Posted by Warner Service on Jan 26, 2018 9:00:00 AM


As a homeowner, it’s important to understand how your home is cooled and heated in order to complete HVAC maintenance or identify heating problems in colder months. Check out Warner Service’s glossary of heating and cooling system anatomy:

  1. Air conditioner. A unit that removes heat from the inside of your home to improve the comfort of your family. Check out Air Conditioning Basics for Beginners for more information.

  2. Air filter. A device composed of fibers that removes dust, pollen, mold, and other allergens and pathogens from the air to improve indoor air quality.

  3. Boiler. This appliance heats (and occasionally boils) water. It’s often confused with a furnace, which is only used for high-temperature heating. Check out Boiler Basics for Beginners for more information.

  4. Compressor. As the heart of an air conditioning or heat pump system, compressors pump refrigerant (a fluid that causes cooling) and maintain adequate pressure that causes refrigerant to flow in sufficient quantities to meet the cooling requirements of the system.

  5. Condenser coil. Located in the outdoor unit, the coil dissipates heat from the refrigerant, changing the refrigerant from vapor to liquid.

  6. Condensing unit. The condensing unit is like the evaporator coil for an outdoor HVAC unit. Inside a cube-shaped unit, the condensing unit also exchanges heat with the air that passes over it. Unlike the evaporator coil, it gives off heat.

  7. Damper. Found in ductwork, this movable plate opens and closes to control airflow and is used effectively in zoning between floors to regulate airflow to certain rooms.

  8. Ductwork. The air ducts move air throughout your home. Air comes into the heating and cooling system through certain sections of the ductwork and is distributed to rooms through other sections. See which pattern is best for your home with Ductwork Design 101.

  9. Evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is also located inside the furnace but isn't part of it. Refrigerant runs through the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from air passing over it. The now-cold air is blown through the air ducts throughout your home.

  10. Exhaust component. A part of an appliance in chimneys, stoves, and vents that clears gases away from controlled combustion.

  11. Furnace. This appliance takes up a majority of space in an HVAC system and usually resides in the basement. It moves air from the heat exchanger into the air ducts and is often confused with a boiler. 

    For more information, check out
    Furnace Basics for Beginners.

  12. Heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is also located inside the furnace but isn't part of it. Instead, the heat exchanger adds heat to the incoming air from the combustion chamber.

  13. Heat pump. During warmer months, the heat pump takes heat from the inside to the outside. During the colder months, it does the opposite. Find out how heat pumps intricately work in Heat Pump Basics for Beginners.

  14. Pilot light. This small continuous blue flame ignites a larger burner on a gas stove, furnace, or water heater.

  15. Refrigerant tubes. Metal refrigerant tubes connect the evaporator coil to the condensing coil, which means the refrigerant tubes connect your home’s indoor and outdoor units. They contain cooling refrigerant under a wide range of temperatures.

  16. Thermostat. This small appliance is usually on the wall in the main level of your home, and, depending on what temperature it’s set at, the thermostat turns on the air conditioning or heating system. 

    It’s recommended by Warner Service to get a programmable or “smart” thermostat to fine-tune your home’s temperature. This saves money on your energy bill and increases the lifespan of the HVAC system. Check out A Quick Guide To Programmable Thermostats And More.

  17. Vents. As air travels through the ductwork, it enters the room through vents. You’re most likely familiar with rectangular covers on your home’s ceilings and floors that direct and take air.

If you need more help identifying heating problems in your home’s HVAC system anatomy, click on the button below to schedule a heating appointment with Warner Service:

Download Our HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Topics: Appliances, Heat, HVAC, Indoor Air