Commonly-Used HVAC Terms & Their Meanings

When you hire a residential or commercial HVAC repair technician to conduct a regular inspection and tune-up service of your system, they may use words that are a little too technical for a layperson. If there’s any component, issue or term that you don’t understand in their report, don’t hesitate to ask your technician about it. They’ll be more than happy to explain what it means to you.


On the other hand, if you want to save time and learn more about HVAC systems, you may want to familiarize yourself with your system’s most commonly-serviced parts. Heating and cooling units may look like complicated machinery, but you’d be surprised how simple and straightforward most of the bits and pieces are. Our experts at Schmitt explain the most common HVAC parts below.


To start with something simple, filters are something that all heating and cooling systems have. Their main purpose is to remove contaminants from the air circulating inside your home. Without them, you’d find your furniture covered in a layer of dust within a few days. As they remove pollutants, they often get saturated and clogged with dirt. Experts recommend changing or cleaning your filter at least once every thirty days or as needed.


A thermostat can be a little more technical than a filter. In a nutshell, it’s the device that allows you to easily control your HVAC system. It’s usually a small box that’s attached to your wall. A house may have one or more thermostats, depending on how their heating and cooling is set up. Most thermostats run on batteries. When these batteries die, your thermostat may show inaccurate readings or fail completely. Make sure to replace your thermostat batteries as needed.


You can think of contactors as the “spark plugs” that initiate the components of your HVAC system. Faulty contactors can be replaced fairly easily by your local HVAC contractors. There are usually three of these components in a typical system, one each for the blower fan motor, the condenser motor and the compressor.

Learn more about the basics of HVAC systems with the help of our professionals at Schmitt. Give us a call at (415) 689-7849 or fill out our contact form to schedule a service visit and request a free estimate today. We serve homeowners in San Francisco and other nearby areas.

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