How Your Houston Heating and Cooling System Works

October 3, 2019

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Houston heating and cooling systems are an essential part of living and working comfortably. Have you ever thought about how they work?

To better understand HVAC repairs, maintenance, and installations, you need to know how your Houston heating and cooling systems function. Essentially, it's a combination of an operational thermostat, ventilation or ductwork, and either the central heating or cooling unit.

Houston Heating and Cooling Starts with Your Thermostat

When you're too warm or a bit chilly, the first thing you do is go and check your thermostat. It's the primary operational control for your Houston heating and cooling systems. All that you have to do is turn it on and off or adjust the temperature. The thermostat is connected to your air conditioner and furnace. When you change the setting, the thermostat kicks in and tells your systems to either warm up the air or cool it down. That's how the entire process begins.

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Ventilation Systems and Ductwork Are Crucial to Houston Heating and Cooling Operations

Your Houston heating and cooling systems are made up of several different parts including supply and return vents or registers, filters, a circulating fan, and ductwork. Each component serves a specific purpose.

With forced air systems, the circulating fan starts by pulling your inside air from the home into the return vents. Then, it pushes the air through the ductwork to the appropriate HVAC system. The air is then either heated up or cooled down, depending on what your instructions from the thermostat are. Finally, the fan pushes the temperature-controlled air back through the ductwork into the house through the registers located in each room.

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How Does Split-System Air Conditioning Work?

There are several different types of air conditioning units available, but the most common in households today are split-systems. There is an external piece of equipment located outside the home and an indoor evaporator coil. Refrigerant is run between the two through a copper tubing connection.

The cooling of your air starts in the outdoor compressor when the refrigerant is a cold, low-pressure gas. It gets compressed into a higher-pressure, warm gas that goes through the exterior condenser to be cooled. Any hot excess air is expelled through a fan outside. The cooled down refrigerant creates cold air. It goes through the coil and then reaches a fan on the inside of the house. It's finally pushed through your ductwork and supply vents to keep your home cool. The same process of air circulation gets repeated while your system is on. The thermostat will tell your air conditioner that the temperature you've set has been reached and it then it will shut off.

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The Basics of Heating System Functionality

Houston heating and cooling systems are somewhat diverse, but the basic premise for functionality is quite similar. The air in your home gets pulled into the ductwork where the heating system warms it up before it gets circulated back into each room through the supply vents. The change occurs when discussing how the air gets heated. It depends on what kind of heating system you have for starters. 

Heat pumps work just like air conditioners but in reverse warming the air instead of cooling it off. Living in Houston, TX where winters are short and summers are long, heat pumps are standard because they can be used for both heating and cooling. Going with a heat pump is a great option, but it is extra important to keep your HVAC system maintained, otherwise you won't have heating or cooling!

However, if you're in a region where winters last longer, a furnace that runs off of oil or natural gas is more realistic. That's because they can be run for a more extended period at a lower price. The same process is followed as far as operations, but your ductwork will force the air to the furnace. It is generally located somewhere inside the home like in the basement.

Another option is hybrid Houston heating and cooling systems. They are becoming more popular because of how economical they are. Instead of only having a furnace or heat pump, you have both. Your system decides which piece of equipment to use based on what the weather is outside. The economic balancing point or a calculation of what would be more efficient to run is determined. It can then switch between the two, depending on which is the better option. It keeps energy costs low while maintaining the desired temperature.

You know the basics of how your Houston heating and cooling systems work now. So, the next time something isn't acting as it should, you can have a better idea of repairs or replacements before calling your favorite HVAC contractor

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