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Back to Basics: A Breakdown of What HVAC Stands For


Can you identify the three components of your HVAC system and what they actually do? HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Knowing which system does what can help you get a better grasp on how your system runs.


In most American homes, heating is provided by means of a gas furnace. Other common types of heating are oil- or gas-fired boilers that heat water and provide steam through tubes in radiators.

Heat pumps are another popular means of heating. They move refrigerant, carrying heat inside to warm the home and outside to cool the home, making use of an outdoor compressor and indoor air handler to distribute conditioned air.

Your furnace or boiler is likely installed in a basement or closet built for the purpose. A furnace will include the burners and heat exchanger to produce heat, blower to distribute air and a flue to exhaust gases.


Ventilation systems are variable from home to home, but generally they include the ductwork and involve the heating and A/C functions. The homeandrsquo;s return air is drawn by an air handler into the system with airborne pollutants removed by a filter and conditioned air distributed through the home.

The HVAC system also helps to dehumidify the homeandrsquo;s air. Often, exhaust ventilation is installed in a bathroom or over a range to remove moisture from the home. Additional ventilation may be needed, and the homeowner may choose supply ventilation or energy or heat recovery ventilation systems to add fresh air and remove stale air from the home.

Air Conditioning

Central A/Cs are the most common of the several types of air conditioning. A/Cs move refrigerant , which with a split system carries heat out of the home to the outdoor compressor and condenser. The heat is exhausted outdoors, while an indoor air handler distributes cooled air indoors. A heat pump also works by this principle.

Visit our website for more on what HVAC stands for and for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us call at (408) 868-5500.

Our goal is to help educate our customers inthe South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of Californiaabout energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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