What is an HVAC and how does it work

What is an HVAC and how does it work?

In this article, we’ll get into the basics of an HVAC system and everything you need to know before getting one (or part of one, for that matter). 

We’ll talk about the fundamental parts and how it works plus other pertinent information for its maintenance as well!

What is an HVAC system?

The term HVAC is an acronym for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. All these elements can be provided by an HVAC system in a single installation within a property.

Basically, HVAC systems are responsible for providing cooling and heating needs in a space. They capture air from the outside and filter it to release high-quality air indoors.

An HVAC system is also capable of eliminating moisture, odor, and certain types of bacteria in the air. Moreover, it replenishes the oxygen in an area and controls the temperature within it.

What does an HVAC system include?

Traditionally, an HVAC system will come with all the necessary parts required to heat, cool, and ventilate your home. This means that you can expect it to come with an air conditioner or a couple of units if you’re in a commercial space.

In addition, the system also comes with a heat pump that both cools and heats a place. Heat pumps are usually paired with an electric furnace while an air conditioner is paired with a  gas furnace.

How Does an HVAC System Work?

An HVAC system isn’t as complicated as you think. In fact, it’s only a combination of certain components including a furnace, an air conditioner, a duct system, and a thermostat.

In a centralized HVAC system, you only need three important components: a source of warm air, a means of distribution, and a control unit (aka the thermostat).

Each of the components is designed to move the air elsewhere in a home, either out of it or into it. Let’s get into how the system works based on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning elements.

Heating Elements

The heating element of an HVAC can either be a furnace or a boiler. Both types of equipment are different, especially in terms of how they generate and distribute heat.

A furnace heats air and requires ducts to distribute the heated air through the building. It usually generates heat using gas but it can be through electrical energy as well.

Meanwhile, a boiler heats water and distributes the steam from pipes through steam radiators. The process can also produce hot water, which travels via baseboard radiators or radiant floor systems.

Ventilation Elements

Ventilation can either be natural or forced. If you have an HVAC system, you’ll most likely make use of forced ventilation for certain advantages.

Natural ventilation can be as simple as opening windows to invite the air in, but it’s prone to bringing outdoor contaminants as well. Forced ventilation, on the other hand, is able to filter these contaminants and regulate the temperature inside a room.

To discharge the excess heat, your system can use a vent stack or chimney flue. Ventilation units can also be installed on the side of the home to prevent moisture condensation from the system.

Air Conditioning Elements

The goal of an air conditioning unit is to cool down the air that already exists indoors. It achieves this by taking heat and humidity out of the air and distributing the newly cooled air back.

The refrigerant is a vital part to reach this process. The HVAC system will modulate the pressure of the refrigerant so that it can absorb ambient heat and remove it once it reaches a certain pressure.

Through this systematic process, heat is then removed from the space.

Which professionals can service HVAC equipment?

It usually depends on the nature of the problem. In general, you can contact the following individuals if problems arise:

  • Air Conditioning Technician – For various air conditioner repair issues such as low refrigerant, damaged fan, faulty wiring, frozen coil, and the like.
  • Refrigeration Technician – They typically repair refrigerators but they also specialize in HVAC units and climate-control systems. They’re usually best for maintenance issues plus mechanical and electrical problems.
  • HVAC Mechanic – They specialize in the installation, maintenance, and repair of HVAC systems. Certain mechanics specialize in a specific type of HVAC equipment such as water heating systems or refrigeration.

By the way, there are also certain HVAC issues that are rooted in plumbing problems. For instance, water may start to pool around your boiler due to plumbing-related damages.

In this case, you might need to call a plumber to deal with the issues quickly or simply a drain cleaner to prevent any forms of clogging. If your HVAC system is affected severely, call any of the professionals we laid out above.


Installing an HVAC system is a wonderful investment that bumps up the value of your property. Make sure you select the right system for you by understanding the fundamentals first.