HVAC Basics

Welcome to Clockwork Heating & Air Conditioning, leading provider of Athens-Clarke County residential HVAC installation and service. To make an educated decision about your home comfort options, it’s important to understand how your heating and cooling systems work. This guide will give you the basics, and Clockwork professionals are available at 706-549-3585 to answer additional repair and installation questions.

How does my central air conditioning system work?

To keep your home cool, your AC system refrigerates, circulates and dehumidifies indoor air. Choosing an energy-efficient cooling unit is key to improving performance and lowering energy costs. Your system is composed of:

  • Indoor Unit: This equipment is designed to remove moisture and warmth from the air, and includes (1) the filter—which traps dust and allergen particles, (2) the air handler—which blows filtered air, and (3) the evaporator coil—which is kept cold by a refrigerant substance. As the air handler blows air across the coil, the air is cooled and dehumidified and is ready for distribution. This cool, dry air circulates throughout your home’s vents, allowing you to remain comfortable in hot months.
  • Condensing/Outdoor Unit: Outside your home, hot air is released at the condensing unit. The refrigerant that absorbed indoor heat becomes pressurized by the compressor and circulated through the condensing coil. This pressure allows the refrigerant to release the carried heat. A unit fan blows across the coil, keeping it cool and moving hot air to the outside of the house.

How does my furnace work?

The furnace keeps your home warm during cool months, and is the core of your heating equipment. When it is time to replace your furnace, you’ll be replacing all of the “working parts” of your heating system. As with your air conditioner, it is important to consider a range of brands, models and efficiencies to ensure that your system is cost effective and high performing.

  • Furnace: Central heating is a forced-air system that blows warm air through your ductwork and vents to each room of the home. It is composed of (1) a filter—which removes dust and allergens from air that is pulled into the furnace, and (2) a blower unit that forces filtered air through the furnace. In the furnace, the air particles begin to absorb heat.
  • Gas Heating: Gas furnaces supply heat by burning natural fuel. This mixture of fuel and air flows into the furnace burner, where it is ignited by your system’s pilot light. The heating process is known as combustion, and when it occurs, warm air rises to fill the heat exchanger. As the heat exchanger’s temperature rises, it warms the passing air. Air is then distributed throughout your home’s ventilation system. Heating byproducts are vented through a roof unit rather than entering your home.
  • Electric Heating: If your furnace is electric, the heat is produced by an electric element. Electrical current travels through the system, and this “conduction-convection” process creates heat. During the process, heat is transferred into the air and flows throughout your home’s ventilation system.

What role does my thermostat play in the heating & cooling process?

Your thermostat controls the temperature of the air, whether you are heating or cooling your home. It measures the room temperature, and cues the HVAC system to turn on and off to maintain your designated comfort level. Your Clockwork team will recommend optimal placement for your thermostat so that it can accurately track and maintain your heating and cooling levels.

Consider a programmable thermostat, which can be set to change the temperature of your home when you sleep, awake, go to work or take a vacation. You will save money on your energy bill if your system runs less when you are not home, or when you aren’t awake. Clockwork technicians can recommend an affordable, programmable thermostat that is user friendly and suitable for your system.

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