Speak the HVAC language

Sure, you know what a thermostat is and are versed in humidifiers, but there’s a lot of insider vocabulary that can get thrown around when dealing with repair professionals. Being able to speak that language can help you understand your own system better, as well as have clearer communication when you want to repair, upgrade or replace part of your HVAC system.

Here’s some key terminology about heating and ventilation systems:

Chiller: A device that removes heat from a liquid using a vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle. The chilled liquid is used to cool and dehumidify the air in your building. Chillers can be air-cooled, water-cooled or even evaporatively cooled. Air-cooled chillers are usually outside whereas water-cooled chillers are usually inside a building. Water-cooled systems can often be more efficient and environmentally friendly than air-cooled systems.

Evaporator:  A component (usually called an evaporator coil) where refrigerant absorbs heat. Evaporators can be used to absorb heat from air, liquid or other substance—but ultimately results in cooler air to push out from the system.

Furnace: A component that adds heat to air or fluid by burning fuel (natural gas, oil, propane, butane, or other flammable substances) in a heat exchanger.

Heat load: A calculation that engineers make to determine how much heat or cooling is needed to maintain the desired temperature in a space. Related to heat load is heat gain (increased temperature due to sunlight, body temperature, cooking heat, electrical equipment, etc.) and heat loss (decreased temperature due to heat escaping through conduction in cold weather, etc.)

Heat pump: A compressor that cycles hot or cold air by absorbing heat from a cold space and releasing it to a warmer space.

Minimum outside air: The lowest amount of fresh (outside) air allowed into a recirculating system. This limit is set to ensure that the interior air remains safe and comfortable to breathe.

Split system: This is the most common type of HVAC system, a combination of an outdoor unit and an indoor unit.

Thermal zone: A single space or group of indoor spaces that experts expect to have similar thermal loads. Building codes may require this type of zoning to save energy in commercial buildings—by reducing the number of HVAC subsystems, initial costs go down. Small residences typically have only one air-conditioned thermal zone (unconditioned spaces such as garages, attics and basements do not count toward the thermal zone).

Zoning system: Unlike a thermal zone, a zoning system sections a building or a space into areas controlled independently by different thermostats. This usually occurs when when different areas or rooms of a building have different natural temperatures or when they have different temperature requirements.

Now that you speak the language, we hope you understand your own HVAC system a little better. But not to worry, when something goes wrong, Dominion Service Company is ready 24/7 to help you diagnose and fix the problem. Call us at 1-800-832-0758 or reach out online to schedule an appointment.