HVAC, (the acronym that stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) means little more than a creature comfort, necessity, or a stiff repair bill to most homeowners today. Some homeowners don't even know what the acronym stands for in full! That being said, it is the responsibility of every homeowner to both know the basics without having to call Handyman Hank for help.
As the old mantra goes the best place to start is from the beginning, so let's begin by touching on a bit of history of the HVAC field. The systems inclusion in the home began way back in the industrial revolution when new methods of electronics and manufacturing became available, and lets face it, we got tired of sweating at work and at home. Heating and air-conditioning provides proper temperature and higher indoor air quality through mechanical engineering feats that are still being improved upon today.
The first portion of the acronym, heating, is most often used by way of a central heating system consisting of a boiler or furnace to heat water or air, and ductwork that provides a transport medium to move the warmed air throughout a structure. Typically the heating portion of the systems (ie radiators, heat pumps) is located in the coldest part of the home in order to provide proper circulation. Unsurprisingly, the invention of central air systems is credited to the ancient Romans, who created ductwork in homes and public baths.
Ventilating, also an important addition to HVAC, consists of the systems that exchanges, replaces, and filters existing indoor air in order to create a higher indoor air quality. Rooms in the home such as bathrooms use a more mechanical form of ventilation in order to reduce humidity and odors, while items such as ceiling fans seek to lower perceived temperatures and draw in fresh air through an open window. Your central air system also most likely uses ventilation in its process and provides high air quality through filters that eliminate and capture dust, mold spores, and other indoor allergens.
Lastly, air-conditioning systems work on the fact that cold air is the absence of heated air. These systems rely on principles such as conduction or chemical refrigerants to remove heat, therefore producing cool air. The ductwork that your central heating system uses is probably also used to disperse this cool air throughout the home. Some systems also use a dehumidifier to lower the temperature of the air as moist air seems warmer than dry air.
Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning does not have to be difficult, and through a little research you can become more informed and discuss your homes' system with your repairman effectively enough to keep it in working order. Call your local repairman or the manufacturer of your system for tips on how to keep your system running great.