Getting to Know the Components of Your HVAC System

September 19, 2023

Your home’s heating and cooling system has many parts, from the furnace and air conditioner themselves to coolants, burners, vents, ducts, and much more. Understanding how your HVAC system works and how its many components come together to provide comfort can help you to monitor and troubleshoot your furnace and air conditioner. If you have questions about how your home’s heating or cooling system works, your HVAC technician will be happy to walk you through its function during his next routine tune-up.


Your home’s ductwork functions like the veins in your body, routing air to each of the rooms in your home for comfort. Because your ducts are generally hidden behind walls, ceilings, and floors, they can be easy to ignore. However, poorly-maintained ductwork allows heated or cooled air to escape into the empty spaces of your home before it can reach the living areas, reducing comfort and increasing the cost of running your furnace or air conditioner. Furthermore, dirty ducts can suffer from reduced airflow, which may put strain on your HVAC system while contributing to overall poor air quality in your home. Ducts should be inspected regularly for leaks or dirt and dust buildup; they may not require maintenance often, but ignoring the state of your ducts could end up costing you on your utility bills.


Your air conditioner uses a refrigerant solution to aid with cooling during the hot summer months. While chances are that you’ll never need to deal with your refrigerant, understanding how it affects your air conditioning system is important. Most older air conditioning systems use a refrigerant called R-22. This refrigerant is currently being phased out of use in the U.S. due to environmental concerns; while you can continue to use your air conditioner as usual even if it contains R-22, service may become more expensive if the refrigerant needs to be replaced as supplies become more limited. Talk to your HVAC technician about the refrigerant used in your air conditioning system and whether switching to a more environmentally-friendly—and less expensive—refrigerant could be a good solution in the future.

Air Returns

Air returns look like the air registers that distribute heated and cooled air throughout your home, but they serve the opposite function. In order for air conditioned or heated air to enter a room, an equal amount of air must be evacuated from the space. Your home may have an air return in every room, or larger air returns in just a few areas. However, it’s important to note that many existing homes suffer from insufficient air return framework, which can greatly reduce indoor air comfort even when you install the most efficient heating and cooling system possible. If you aren’t sure whether your home has sufficient air return capacity, talk to your HVAC technician for help finding your existing air returns and determining whether they are adequate for your needs.

Knowing your HVAC system gives you a leg-up on preventing and pinpointing heating and cooling problems You can reach a Columbus HVAC technician for help or advice when you visit us on the web, or find additional heating and cooling information and maintenance suggestions on our blog.

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Last Updated: September 19, 2023