Furnaces provide heat to a home or business, via an enclosure in which energy converts to heat. They’re also commonly called boilers, and can be found in the basement of a house or office building. Bigger buildings require bigger furnaces, but any HVAC professional you hire can tell you the size you will need to fit the capacity of your space. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians can provide not only services but also sales of heating systems. They can also repair your unit when it breaks down. You may wonder what certain terms mean when you start looking for a professional in this field to install, repair, or provide maintenance on your home’s gas or oil furnace. Here are some top definitions to get you started.
BTU – Stands for British Thermal Unit, referring to the standard for measuring the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature by one degree Fahrenheit of a pound of water.
Condenser coil – This device releases or collects heat, depending on season, and is located in the air conditioner’s or heat pump’s outdoor component.
Evaporator coil – A device that absorb heat from the air, found either attached or the furnace or within the air handler, an important part of the heat pump or air conditioner.
Carbon monoxide – This odorless, colorless gas is poisonous and flammable, a by-product of carbon that burns without sufficient air.
Pipeless furnace – Installed in the basement, this type of furnace provides heat via a register in the floor for the room above it.
Heat exchanger – This device transfers heat to the air, which then circulates through the house.
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Over much of the United States, winter heat is not just a luxury but an essential.
Most houses have central heating of some kind. Furnaces use a variety of fuels, but the most common are gas, oil and electricity. Wood burning furnaces are still used in some rural areas, but are often illegal in cities. In many cases the same heat pump that is used to move warm air in winter is used to move cold air in summer. This results in the general tendency to lump heating and air conditioning together under the term HVAC. The letters stand for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
Companies involved in the sale of residential HVAC systems are likely to also install, replace and repair. Repairs can be as simple as changing filters or replacing a single part, or involve major refurbishment. A contractor may also be hired to inspect a system during the sale of a home. Some houses also have central vacuum systems which may also be maintained and repaired by the same contractors.
Commercial and industrial systems are, of course, far larger and often more complicated than home ones. A maintenance contract is often signed, lasting a number of years and allowing the business owner to leave the matter to the contractor. Tuning up the system to improve efficiency is also important.
New systems are often under warranty and repair and replacement handled by a contractor approved by the dealer. This usually means the original installer. Central heating systems are generally permanently built into the home. Furnaces, however, may be periodically replaced. In some cases, a homeowner may save money by buying a suitable used and reconditioned furnace. Also, a furnace may be replaced in order to change to a cleaner or cheaper fuel.