Knowing the different elements of your HVAC system can help in so many ways. When you recognize the various working parts and what they do, you can stay on top of home service checks to ensure that it’s working correctly. Units can be expensive to replace. Addressing an issue before it becomes a problem could save you thousands of dollars later on.

If you’re shopping for a new system, you’ll want to understand what it is you’re buying. Many units today are energy efficient and have extra features to make it more effective. When you can identify all the parts, you’ll set yourself up to make better decisions as a consumer.

Universal HVAC Components


The thermostat is the most recognizable component from your HVAC system because it’s often situated on the wall in a communal space in the home. When it comes to your thermostat there are a few different kinds available such as programmable, manual, and mechanical. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. At the end of the day they all manage and communicate with the heat exchanger and evaporator coil-condensing unit to circulate air depending on.


Ducts are conduits that allow the hot or cold air pass throughout your home. They are more or less a ventilation system both administering air and retrieving air. Constructed from many different materials like steel, fiberglass, or fabric, the most commonly seen inside the home is aluminum. Any obstruction in the ductwork can lead to issues with the HVAC not distributing airflow properly. Call your Middle Tennessee HVAC contractor who can give you professional advice if you notice an issue with your ductwork.


The vents are the rectangular outlets found on the ceiling or sometimes the floor inside the house. They are the final leg of both the heating and cooling system. Once the air moves through the ducts, it needs to be released in the appropriate rooms. The vents will direct the treated air down or up depending on their location. You can control the amount of airflow released from these vents manually by adjusting them to be more opened or closed.

Heating Your Home


The furnace is substantial in size and therefore requires a lot of room. Its home is usually somewhere like the basement, garage, or laundry room. The primary function of the furnace is heating the air supply. The air supply is then transferred to the other rooms throughout the house via your HVAC unit. The furnace relies on different segments to create the heating supply: natural gas, electric resistance, heat pump, or solar energy.

Heat Exchanger

Located externally from your furnace, the heat exchanger is part of the HVAC unit responsible for warming your home. When you program your thermostat to heat the house, the heat exchanger pulls in the cold air and heats it up. The warmer air is now circulated via the ductwork to make the atmosphere more comfortable. It’s important to note that all kinds of furnaces will have some form of heat exchanger. Any issues with your heat exchanger and you might have carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide is an odorless but dangerous gas. You’ll want to check the heat exchanger at the beginning of each season to ensure that it is healthy.

Combustion Chamber

Sometimes referred to as the burner, the combustion chamber uses oxygen to create the energy necessary for your furnace. For a gas furnace, a small amount of air and gas mix together in the chamber where a pilot light ignites the mixture and burns it in a controlled manner. An electric system works with an electric ignition system, and the pilot light is replaced by a tiny tube that releases trace amounts of gas/fuel to create a flame. If you’ve purchased an high-efficiency furnace, it’s possible that you might have two combustion chambers.

Blower Motor

Once the heat exchanger has done its job to make the cold air warm, the blower motor powers a fan forcing the air through the ductwork. The air is pumped through in cycles. The blower motor will use all the heat in the exchanger before it starts on another cycle. If you have a variable speed blower motor, your HVAC system can operate with precision. Additional benefits include quiet operation since they work up to their full speed gradually, and are capable of reaching ideal temperatures before the speed unit has reached its full potential.

Cooling Your Home

Evaporator Coil

Where the heat exchanger worked to make the air warm, the evaporator coil does the opposite. It’s the part of the HVAC system that cools the air to the temperature you set on your thermostat. Its location is a metal enclosure on the exterior of the furnace. When your system is set to cool, warm air is drawn in and filtered over the evaporator coil. As it passes over, it’s cooled quickly by the refrigerant inside the coil. Once it’s cooled, it’s passed through the condenser coil.

Condenser Coil/Unit

The rule of physics says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you are trying to cool your home, hot air will materialize as a product of the all the parts working together. Since you are trying to cool your home rather than heat it, the warm air needs to go somewhere. The condenser coil will move the warmer air away from the duct and outside. The component itself sits outside and utilizes a fan to help keep this circulation going. Keeping your condenser coil from leaves and debris will ensure it’s in good working order.

Have more questions about your air conditioning and heating units? We’ve answered them in this blog.

Nothing works better than having a professional HVAC contractor inspect your unit to ensure it’s working correctly. Contact Busy Bee today to schedule your maintenance visit.

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