HVAC Basics for Homeowners

HVAC Basics for HomeownersWhile heating and cooling theory can be a complex topic, HVAC basic facts aren’t rocket science. However, a general acquaintance with how an air conditioner and furnace get the job done can be helpful to keep the system in optimum condition as well as when you need service or repair. Here’s the HVAC basic primer and how it keeps you comfortable year-round.


To make the indoors cool, an air conditioner removes heat. Here’s how the closed cooling loop works:

  • Warm air is drawn through the the evaporator coil inside the indoor air handler.
  • Refrigerant circulating through coil passageways extracts heat from the air.
  • While cooled air flows into household ductwork, refrigerant carries the heat to the compressor in the outside half of the unit.
  • The condenser coil disperses heat into outdoor air.
  • Refrigerant flows back to the evaporator coil and extracts more heat.


Most homes in the midwest use natural gas-fired furnaces. The burner in the furnace combustion chamber heats the heat exchanger. Airflow from the blower moves through sealed passages in the heat exchanger, then flows into ductwork and warms through the entire house.

Common Problems

  • Inadequate airflow. Proper system airflow is critical in both cooling and heating. It’s one of the first suspects when poor performance or efficiency happens.
  • Refrigerant leaks. A low refrigerant charge causes a variety of air conditioner dysfunctions. Low refrigerant is almost always the result of a small leak.
  • Aging ductwork. Residential ducts typically leak up to 30 percent of conditioned air in homes more than 10 years old. Pressure-testing and sealing is required by many local codes when a new furnace or A/C is installed.

DIY or Professional Service?

The only do-it-yourself option in today’s HVAC systems is changing the air filter. Replace the filter every month to maintain performance and efficiency. At the outset of the cooling and heating seasons, respectively, schedule annual professional preventive maintenance for the A/C and furnace.

For more HVAC basic knowledge, ask the heating and cooling pros at Paitson Bros. We’ve been here for the homeowners of Terre Haute since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC basics and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859.

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

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    Ethan Ethan Rayburn is a lifelong resident of Terre Haute and a 2005 graduate of Purdue University.

    An Eagle Scout, Ethan spent four years as a non-profit executive with the Boy Scouts of America before joining Paitson Bros. as a comfort advisor and later General Manager. In that role, Ethan has brought a renewed enthusiasm for customer care, integrity, value, and service to Paitson Bros. Heating & Air Conditioning.

    Ethan enjoys singing and was a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. He also enjoys playing and coaching soccer, spending time with his family and two young boys, and volunteering his time and resources with his church, Terre Haute First Baptist Church, which he has attended from a very young age.
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