11 Common Words your HVAC Technician May Use
Technical language can be intimidating, especially when speaking with an expert about something as crucial as your air conditioning and the comfort it provides you and your family. Below is a list of some of the most common words you will hear from your air conditioning service in San Diego.
- Air Balancing: Process of testing and adjusting your air conditioning system. The technician will use a special machine to check the static pressure on your supply and return ducts and check for damage to the ducts, and also make sure they are the correct size for your AC unit. They also measure the output at the supply registers, check temperature and humidity levels as well as heat gain/loss within your home using specialized meters. After the tests are all run, the technician will input all the collected data into a special computer system and then use the information to restore balance to your system. This can include adjusting your blower speed, fixing any damaged ducting, and can also mean adding, removing, or replacing existing dampers to make your system cool your whole home efficiently. If things were especially dirty, they might suggest adding additional filtering or air cleaning system. Sometimes extra return ducts may be necessary to rebalance a system.
- Compressor: Mechanical device that increases the pressure and temperature of the vapor refrigerant that leaves the coils. In the compressor, low-pressure gas is changed into a high-pressure gas. This process concentrates the heat it contains. The heat is then dispersed outside, and the process repeats. The low-temperature refrigerant vapor is what cools your air.
- Condenser: Receives high-pressure, high-temperature refrigerant vapor from the compressor and removes heat from the vapor. As it moves through the coil, it continues to cool, and it is changed from a vapor back to a liquid. The condenser is usually outside the home and contains the fins, tube, and the fans. The fans blow outside air into the machine to help with the cooling process.
- Evaporator: The part of the air conditioner unit that turns liquid refrigerant from a liquid to a gas. It is responsible for absorbing the heat into its coils and the refrigerant. This is the part of your system where the refrigerant is expanded and evaporated from liquid to gas.
- HVAC is short for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It contains both heating and cooling properties in one system. They usually contain filtering for increased air quality inside your home. It works using thermodynamics and heat transfer and by exchanging/replacing existing air in your home with cleaner and better quality air at the temperature you desire. The system’s filtration system removes fungus, dust, pollutants, and bacteria, and pumps clean air into your home. The components include the compressor, evaporator, refrigerant, and thermostat.
- Metering Device: This piece of equipment is located after the condenser coil. There are two different types, either a “fixed orifice (capillary tubes)” or “thermostatic expansion valve.” These work kind of like a hose nozzle, taking a steady stream of refrigerant into a high-pressure stream of droplets. It works to control the flow of refrigerant to the evaporator.
- Mini Split System: Does not need ducting to function. Mini-splits are great for individual rooms that are difficult to heat or cool. They can be used in multiple rooms as well.
- Packaged Systems: Contains all of the parts in one outside unit. It can sit on the roof or the ground and comes in small or large sizes depending on your needs. They are great for warmer areas where space is limited. They can be less efficient than other systems. The plus is that they are more flexible to install than other types of units and do not need to have any of the components in your living environment.
- SEER: Stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It measures the air conditioning and the heat pump (in cooling mode) efficiency. It is measured and tested by an independent third-party laboratory, and the results are published. It looks at the difference between the total cooling capacity and the amount of energy used to cool. So the higher the number, the better. The higher number means you get more output for the same amount of energy as another air conditioner may give. Of course, a higher SEER rating means a quieter unit as well as more “bells and whistles,” but it can save money because it costs less to run it. Federal regulations state new air conditioners should have a minimum rating of 13, and in California, we must have a 14 or higher rating. A rating of 14-16 is the best and most economical for most homes today.
- Split System: (also a ductless mini-split) Has both indoor and outdoor components, usually consists of 5 parts, the indoor unit (furnace), outdoor unit (a/c or heat pump), thermostat, indoor air quality component with filtration and humidity control, and some ducting to move or exchange air from the unit to the house.
- Tonnage: Amount of heat a unit can remove in one hour. One ton can remove 12,000 BTU. The tonnage that you will need depending on your climate, home size, the number of windows your home contains, and how your home is oriented according to the sun. If your system is too small, it will work too hard to cool your home. If it is too large, it will run in short, frequent bursts that are not only inefficient and damaging to the unit, but it makes it difficult for the unit to remove humidity and pollutants during those short bursts. Your home can have hot spots if your system is too large. If you think your system may be too small or too large, call us to discuss a new air conditioner for your home.
We are here to help you understand any of these terms while we are speaking with you either on the phone or in-person during your heating and air conditioning installation in San Diego processes or even during a service or maintenance call. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification!