Heating and Cooling Systems 101

Those of us who live in countries with relatively extreme seasonal changes rely a lot on our various heating and cooling systems to get us through the coldest and warmest months of the year. Often, we take many of these systems for granted until something goes wrong, and then we are at a loss as to what action should be taken. Generally, it seems that we humans educate ourselves on issues or subjects only when it becomes necessary!

At companies like AirPlus, this usually means that customers come to us for help or information when they are moving into a new home, renovating an old one, or need to get an appliance fixed urgently. We are always happy to provide our clients with the information and services that they need; but in case you happen to be looking for a primer of heating and cooling systems, here is an article that will help.

Knowing the basics about these essential parts of your home will always come in handy when you find yourself in a difficult situation. Say your heating system breaks down, and you are speaking to a technician over the phone. He or she may ask you, “What type of system is it?” to which you would be able to reply, “It’s a regular forced air system.”

HVAC Equipment

Firstly, what does HVAC stand for? It is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Your HVAC systems primarily control the temperature, humidity levels, and the air quality inside your home. There is a great variety of ventilation, heating and cooling systems out there, and the common types in use will generally depend on your location. This doesn’t only refer to weather conditions, but also to the fact that different countries or regions simply have different norms and standards in place. In Ontario, industry standards take into account the length and the intensity of the winters, and the humidity and temperature levels in the summer.

Heating Systems

gas furnaceIn the winter, it is crucial that your heating system functions reliably, keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. A typical temperature would be around 66 to 70 Fahrenheit, or 19 to 21 Celsius. The following are some of the most common systems found in North American homes today.

    • Forced Air System. This system can work for both heating and cooling. The blower is a key part of the system; for heating it works by circulating air through a heat exchanger. The distributed warm air then heats up the home.
    • Heat Pump System. There are a number of different heat pumps available; one of the most common ones is the “air source pump.”
    • Hydronic System. This system utilizes hot water. A boiler heats up water as necessary, and the hot water is circulated through the radiators in your home or apartment.
    • Radiant System. These systems also use heated water, but instead of radiators the water is distributed through a tubing network located within the floors, ceilings, or walls of a building.
    • Geothermal System. This type of system is less common; as its name clearly suggests, it uses geothermal energy as a heat source. Most geothermal systems will use a heat pump to extract heat from several meters below the surface of the ground.
    • Electric Systems. In this case, heat is produced by the use of electric heaters or resistance heaters.

Cooling Systems

Air conditioning systems function by removing heat, and by cooling and dehumidifying the air indoors. The following are the most common air conditioning systems used in homes today.

    • Forced Air AC System. As mentioned above, forced air systems are utilized for both heating and cooling. For cooling purposes, a compressor is used. A refrigerant is circulated between an indoor coil and an outdoor coil. The blower pushes air across the indoor coil, successfully removing the heat from inside your home. Heat is then dissipated via the external coil into the air outside. Forced air systems usually use ductwork to carry cool air to the different parts of your home.
    • Ductless Split System. This air conditioning system is “mini-split.” It is similar to traditional split systems, but allow for more control. Separate rooms will have separate air handlers, which eliminate the need for any ductwork.

Ventilation Systems

Proper ventilation is essential to ensure that your heating and cooling systems function effectively. Without well-planned ventilation, the humidity level and the air quality level inside your home will be difficult to control. Your heating and cooling system is a part of the ventilation system of your house, but there are other factors that will affect ventilation.

Bathrooms and kitchens almost always have ventilation systems to remove humidity and odours. If the ventilation ducts run through areas like your attic, be sure that they are properly insulated – you don’t want condensation to form. Take a look at the ducts for your clothes dryer as well. They should always vent to the exterior of your home to prevent humidity and mildew problems.

One downside of many heating and cooling systems today is that they do not bring enough fresh air into the home. They are more energy efficient than older systems, but tend to suffer from poorer air exchange rates. Heat recovery ventilators are one solution to this problem. This appliance carries fresh air into the home. As this happens, the cool incoming air receives heat transferred from the warm air that is being carried out of the home.

Heating and Cooling Systems from AirPlus

We hope that this introduction to HVAC systems has been helpful to you! If you live in the communities of Toronto, Scarborough, or Durham, and need any further information about heating and cooling systems, call the professionals at AirPlus. We install, maintain, and provide comprehensive services for all types of HVAC systems and equipment. We even offer a free diagnostic service, so what are you waiting for? It is always best to ensure that these crucial parts of your home are running smoothly, instead of waiting for something to go wrong.


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