Many terms and concepts associated with HVAC need to be clarified for those outside the industry. Understanding some essential words can help you communicate better with a professional and make minor repairs independently.

Air ducts are the channels that transport heated or cooled air throughout your home. Holes and tears can be easily repaired with metallic foil tape or duct mastic.

1. Air Filter

A critical component of any AC system is the air filter. It removes dust, pet dander, and other particulates from the air before circulating throughout your home. This helps keep your AC running cleanly and efficiently, saving energy bills.

HVAC terms like BTU, watt, and psi can confuse the average homeowner. Fortunately, most HVAC technicians will try to relay any technical issues in layperson’s terms.

You can usually find your air filter in the blower system of the furnace. It may be openable or have a metal panel you can slide off to access the filter. Once you locate it, you’ll need to open the vent, remove the old filter, and install a new one. Then, close the vent and turn your system back on.

2. Evaporator Coil

In the air handler is the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the air to start cooling your space. It is a copper tube encased in multiple aluminum fins for better heat transfer.

Your AC unit’s compressor converts gaseous refrigerant into liquid and sends it to the evaporator coil. Once the evaporator coil absorbs the heat from the air, it changes liquid refrigerant back into its vapor form and initiates the cooling process.

These two coils work in tandem with tubes connecting the indoor and outdoor units to remove heat from your space, which is expelled outdoors. If either lock stops working correctly, your system won’t cool effectively.

Although evaporator coils are easy for homeowners to maintain, your HVAC technician or AC repair in Mesquite must inspect them at least twice a year and clean them regularly. This helps avoid dirt and grime buildup and improves the coil’s performance.

3. Condenser Coil

The evaporator coil absorbs heat, while the condenser coil releases heat outside. The two loops may have similar designs and materials but serve opposite functions. The condenser coil in the outdoor unit is usually made of aluminum, with a row of small spines that add surface area to help increase airflow and improve heat exchange efficiency.

Cubic feet per minute (CFM) measures the air volume moved through space in one minute. HVAC caulking and weather-stripping are used to reduce the amount of air infiltration into and exfiltration out of a home or office.

AC condenser coils are susceptible to clogging, which affects the performance of an air conditioning system. Regular maintenance and cleaning help prevent these problems from developing. Professionals can clean and service the coil with specialized tools to ensure it stays clog-free for optimal performance.

4. Thermostat

A thermostat is an appliance that reads changes in the indoor temperature and then turns on or off the HVAC system to achieve this desired indoor temperature. It can be manually controlled or operated on a schedule with intelligent technology.

A bi-metal strip inside the thermostat expands or contracts with changes in the air temperature to interrupt and re-open a circuit that controls current flow in an electrical switch. This makes or breaks the heating and cooling process, affecting how much power your HVAC unit supplies.

Thermostats are one of your system’s more easy-to-fix HVAC parts, assuming it still works properly. However, if yours isn’t working, it could be due to many factors including:

5. Diffuser

A diffuser is a vent cover with adjustable dampers to change the airflow direction. They are designed to prevent hot and cold spots in a room by spreading out conditioned air throughout the entire space. They are usually found on the ceiling, covering an air release outlet.

Diffusers are modeled after the technology of nebulizers, which were designed to deliver medicine directly into the lungs in a fine mist. They are also used in essential oil therapy to distribute a fragrance into the air.

When choosing a diffuser, ensure that the oils you use are safe for pets and children. Also, follow the oil-dosing recommendations and add water to the diffuser before adding oils. This will prevent the oils from damaging the diffuser. Likewise, avoid overfilling the tank, as it can cause overheating. It’s best to fill the diffuser only about halfway full.

6. Ductwork

The metal, fiberglass, or plastic tubing system connects the air handler with air diffusers throughout your home. It helps distribute heated and cooled air and provides ventilation and filtration.

Duct leaks are common, but they can cause problems with even air distribution. The air may escape through holes or cracks, or the ductwork could have inadequate insulation. In the latter case, your heating and cooling specialists can help insulate ducts better.


The best way to tell if you have a duct problem is to audit your ductwork. Shut all your interior room doors, then look for dirt or dust at the air vents. Ask an AC repair specialist to examine your ducts for leaks if you find any. If you have leaking chimneys, they can be sealed or replaced. This will reduce air loss and improve your house’s energy efficiency.


Kenny is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheTalka. He launched the site in 2019.

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