Heating and cooling system basics: Tips and guidelines

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Most households rely on the heating and cooling system to maintain a comfortable temperature all summer and winter. However, some people don’t often think about their HVAC unit until a problem arises. They pay their bills without even questioning the efficiency of their system. It is vital to have some basic understanding of how the HVAC system works. This way you can quickly identify a problem and call in professional help in time. Read on to get more insights.

Know your heating and cooling systems

The HVAC systems contain a warm, cool air source and a duct for distributing the air to the respective rooms. The cooling and heating process works on the principle that heat moves naturally from warm to cool areas. An essential part of the HVAC system is the thermostat. It signals the heating or cooling system to start and shut down once the house has reached the desired temperature. The ductwork feeds heated or cool air into your home and the air then enters various rooms through vents. Here’s how the HVAC system works.

The heating process

When you put your HVAC system into heating mode, the unit draws in your indoor air, heats it and recirculates it throughout the house. You can choose between the oven, the boiler or the ductless heating system. The furnace contains burners that burn fuel to heat the air, and you can install a gas or oil model.

On the other hand, the boiler heats water and spreads hot steam that heats the indoor air. A ductless heating system collects indoor air, uses a compressor to heat it and recirculates the air to specific zones in the house.

The cooling process

Once you turn on the cooling system, the fan pulls warm indoor air through the return duct. The air passes through an air filter that traps dust particles, pollen, pet dander, and other contaminants. From here, the warm indoor air blows over cool evaporator coils. The coils contain a refrigerant that changes from liquid to gas to facilitate heat exchange.

Then the evaporator coils absorb heat and moisture from the indoor air and the refrigerant inside changes from liquid to gas. The fan then blows cooler air into the house. At the same time, the moisture extracted from the indoor air condenses into water, flows into the sump below and exits the unit through the drain pipe to the outside.

The gas refrigerant then flows into the compressor, which pressurizes the refrigerant and further increases its temperature. From here, the refrigerant flows into the condenser coil. A fan in the outdoor unit blows cool air over the system and the refrigerant takes the heat from the room outside and is then converted into a liquid. The refrigerant flows through the expansion valve into the evaporator coils and the process continues until the housing reaches the desired temperature.

Common Heating and Cooling System Problems and How to Fix Them

As the season changes, problems can arise with your heating and cooling system. While you can easily solve some of these problems, complex tasks require professional help. Watch out for the following problems.

Thermostat failure

If your HVAC system doesn’t turn on, doesn’t cool your home enough, or turns it on and off frequently, there may be a problem with the thermostat. Start by replacing the thermostat battery to see if this fixes the issues.

The placement of the thermostat can also affect its operation. If you install it in areas that receive direct sunlight, the thermostat will sense the house warmer and signal the unit to operate continuously. Place the thermostat centrally away from heat sources and direct sunlight. If you have an outdated thermostat, replace it with a modern one.

Dirty air filters

Over time, debris can build up on the air filters, restricting airflow. The device will have to work extremely hard and run for a longer period of time. This will result in high energy bills, increased wear and tear. Be sure to clean or replace the air filters every three months and monthly if you live in a dusty area. Using a clean air filter will reduce energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

Unusual sounds

Most heating and cooling systems operate very quietly. Therefore, never ignore strange noises coming from your device. A loud buzzing sound means a missing or broken part that puts additional stress on other components. The system may also produce a humming noise in the event of a refrigerant leak or compressor failure. A hissing sound indicates a leaking air duct, while a beeping sound indicates a faulty fan or fan motor. Have a professional assess the problem to rule out and fix the exact cause of the problem.

Inflammatory Problems

If the heating systems stop blowing in warm air, there may be a problem with the pilot light or ignition. Over time, the ignition part wears out and you need to have it replaced. Debris build-up on the burners, flame sensors and pilot light can also cause delayed ignition, kiln stall and short cycles. Solving this problem involves handling hazardous elements such as natural gas, so leave it to trained technicians.

Uneven room temperature

If you notice that some areas in your home seem a bit colder or hotter than others, it indicates a problem in your heating and cooling system. A major cause of uneven temperature is the wrong unit of measure. If you buy a substandard HVAC system, it may not distribute enough air throughout the house. An oversized appliance turns on and off frequently and it will not cool all rooms sufficiently. Let a qualified technician tailor your system based on your home’s square footage, number of occupants and climatic conditions. Blocked vents, an old unit, and poor insulation can also lead to uneven temperatures.

Maintenance tips for your heating and cooling system

You can avoid most HVAC problems by having your system tuned by a licensed contractor before the cooling and heating season. During the maintenance, the professional will inspect the electrical connections, top up the refrigerant, lubricate moving parts, check and repair air leaks. This prevents frustrating breakdowns, frequent repairs or faster than expected replacements.

According to an expert who does air conditioning in BrooklynHere are several maintenance tasks you can do yourself to keep your HVAC unit running efficiently all year round.

  • Keep the channels clean
  • Often free around the outdoor unit
  • Clean the AC batteries and the heat pump often
  • Inspect the drain line
  • Remove obstacles from the vents to improve airflow

it comes down to

The heating and cooling system is a very vital unit in any household. If properly maintained, it will increase the comfort level of your home, run at a lower cost and serve you longer.

Story of Brian Weyer

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