Can a Residential Air Handler Combine Heating and Cooling?
A Residential Air Handler for central heating and cooling is a common device in homes and commercial buildings. Without an HVAC system, there is no reliable source of warm or cold air according to the season. Different types of HVAC systems have different components. Most air-conditioning units have an indoor part which is also called a Residential Air Handler. They function like a furnace that is responsible for moving cool water around the home or building. The primary difference is that if you have an HVAC air handler, it works only when paired with a heat pump.
What are the parts of this device?
To understand better how your HVAC air handler works, it is also essential to know each specific component that makes up this crucial element of your AC system.
• Air filters. Air filtration is a basic part of any HVAC system. Without an efficient air filtration system, dust and other pollutants will enter the home and contaminate indoor air. You can invest in advanced air filtration systems that have added capability to remove pollen and other allergens from the air.
• Fan or blower. The blower or fan is another primary component of any HVAC air handler. It distributes treated air through the ducts and air vents situated around the home.
• Evaporator coil. These coils consist of refrigerant which absorbs heat as air passes through the coils.
• Humidifier. If you live in areas with cold climate, continuous heating using your AC air handler will result in drier air. Dry air is uncomfortable and prone to static electricity. By adding a humidifier to your HVAC system, you can improve indoor air quality.
• Heat exchanger. If your HVAC system functions both for cooling and heating, heat exchangers are responsible for heating air.
• Control or thermostat. Every HVAC air handler requires a control panel to adjust air flow rate, temperature, humidity, and air quality.
Aside from these main parts of an HVAC air handler, there are also different types of motors used to efficiently circulate air around the home. You can find air handlers with variable speed motors that offer higher comfort levels and energy efficiency.
Air handler heating and cooling: how does it work?
An HVAC air handler can either provide central heating and cooling to a home. It consists of heating and cooling elements housed in the unit the cooling element works when warm air inside the home blows through the evaporator coils containing refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat and cooled air then travels back and circulates around the home. Heat absorbed by the refrigerant gets transferred outdoors while cooled air circulates inside. An HVAC air handler often gets paired with a heat pump to not only keep your home cool but also warm during winter. How does HVAC air handler heating work?
1. When a heat pump needs to switch to heating mode, it begins by reversing the refrigeration cycle. This works by changing the function of the outdoor coil and make it the evaporator and the indoor coil then functions as the condenser.
2. Refrigerant continues to flow through a closed system of refrigeration coils between the outdoor and the indoor unit.
3. Even if the outside temperature is cold, the consider coil can absorb enough energy from outdoor air which is released inside by the evaporator coil.
4. The blower or fan absorbs indoor air into the HVAC system.
5. The HVAC system then pumps the refrigerant into the exterior coil to absorb heat.
6. Heat absorbed by the exterior coil gets pushed back into the ductwork and vents inside the home.
An HVAC air handler paired with a heat pump used to be the most efficient method for heating and cooling homes in areas with a moderate climate. But recent advancements in technology enable these systems to be applicable even in locations with freezing and sub-freezing temperatures.
AC air handler maintenance checklist
Your home’s HVAC system is responsible for maintaining a consistent temperature for maximum comfort during cold and warm weather. Therefore, it is essential that you employ preventive maintenance steps, especially with your HVAC air handler. Technicians recommend scheduling maintenance at least twice a year to ensure working efficiency and an increased life span. When you schedule for a maintenance check, expect the technician to do the following:
1. Turn off the unit and dismantle the air handler. The HVAC technician begins by ensuring that the indoor and outdoor units are both turned off completely. It is also vital to retract any coolant left on the refrigerant lines to prevent spills. The next step is to dismantle individual components of the unit.
2. Clean the unit. Cleaning the unit requires using a hose or vacuum to remove dirt build-up. In some cases, the technician may use an anti-bacterial solution.
3. Re-assemble the HVAC air handler. The technician will need a new insulated duct board cut into the right size to re-assemble the unit. The technician may also use adhesive cement to further secure the seams.
Aside from cleaning the unit, the technician may also replace air filters especially if there are tears or holes. Replacing air filters at least once a year is an excellent idea if your family suffers from allergies or if you have pets. Here are some additional tips to making sure that your HVAC air handler is always in good working condition.
• Always check your HVAC system for unusual sound and vibration.
• Clean air filters every 90 days.
• Check the condensation pan regularly and drain it off.
• Check parts and lubricate sections prone to friction.
• Keep coils straight.
• Check both the motor belt and the pulley if working properly.
• Check all electrical wirings for damage.
• Tighten all loose connections.
• Check the HVAC air handler bypass valve.
A maintenance plan is recommended if you want to make sure that your HVAC unit remains properly tuned up before each season of expected heavy use.
When to replace or repair your residential air handling unit
Knowing when to replace or repair your HVAC air handler is a crucial step to ensure the safety and comfort of your home. There are no hard rules to indicate when a replacement is necessary over regular repairs but the following guidelines should help.
• Air handlers and heat pumps have a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years. When your equipment is nearing its expected lifespan, you should start considering a replacement.
• HVAC technology continues to evolve. This means that new models today have higher efficiency and better performance. If you repair an outdated residential air handler, you will not only appreciate the benefits of a state-of-the-art system, you will also reduce maintenance costs and energy bills.
• Before thinking about replacing your existing HVAC unit, request an estimate of repair costs. If repairing your existing HVAC air handler will cost as much as 50% of the price of a new unit, you should start looking for a new HVAC unit for replacement. If you speak to an HVAC contractor early, you may even get discounts and rebates.
• There are government tax credits available for homeowners who invest in high-efficiency HVAC units. If you want to take advantage of these credits, verify with your tax advisor if you will qualify.
• Aside from government tax credits, utility companies may also reward you for purchasing a high-efficiency HVAC unit. Check with your utility company if their rebate program is worth looking into.
• Another indication that you may need to consider a replacement is the capacity and size of your existing HVAC system. If your existing unit underperforms because of recent home improvements you made, you will benefit from downgrading your HVAC system instead.
Another compelling reason to consider buying a replacement is the impact of your HVAC unit’s current efficiency rating on the environment. The lower the efficiency, the more carbon emissions produced. New HVAC units have near-perfect efficiency ratings which means you are helping reduce the environmental impact of burning fossil fuel.
Fischer Heating is a professional HVAC contractor in the Seattle area that can cater to all your HVAC repair, maintenance, and replacement needs. Contact them today to get a quote of how much it would cost to replace your HVAC air handler.
Image Copyright: Marharyta Stoika / 123RF Stock Photo
Howard Hale creates effective content and marketing strategies for a multitude of businesses. His agency, ManifesGo is all about helping small businesses manifest their marketing goals and objectives.