In life, communication is very important, especially when you need to request a service call to repair your home’s AC System. As you attempt to describe your AC System issue to a technician or dispatcher, wouldn’t it be nice to speak the same language? Well, your friends at AC Today are here to help.

Here is a basic glossary of AC System Terms:

  • HVAC – This is an acronym for Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning. For example, AC Today is an HAVC contractor that specializes in repair and installation.
  • SEER – This is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. SEER is an industry standard used to measure how much cooling a given system produces (BTUs) for each unit of energy (watt hours) it consumes. In essence, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently the AC System cools a given space. A good analogy to SEER is your car’s Miles Per Gallon (“MPG”).
  • BTU – This is an acronym for British Thermal Unit. A BTU is used to measure the amount of energy needed to increase one (1) pound of water by one (1) degree Fahrenheit.
  • Ton – An AC System’s cooling capacity is often described by how many “Tons” of cooling the AC System can produce. Each “Ton” of cooling roughly equals 12,000 BTUs. If your AC System’s output is 36,000 BTUs, it is considered a “3 Ton System.” Also, tonnage can be useful when sizing an AC System for a home because a general rule-of-thumb in Florida is to apply one Ton of cooling for every 500 square feet of living space. Be sure not to confuse Tons with SEER.
  • MERV – This is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The lower the MERV rating, the lower the quality of the AC Filter. You can read more about AC Filter selection and MERV here.
  • RefrigerantRefrigerant is a chemical that literally loops through the AC System piping from inside your home to outside your home, all the while absorbing heat and then releasing it to the external air outside your home. Simply stated, your AC System absorbs the heat in your home and transfers it to the Refrigerant, which is then carried to the air outside of your home and released. Freon, R-22 and R410a are types of Refrigerants.
  • Condensing Section – In a “split” AC System, this is the outdoor portion of your AC System. The Condensing Section houses the compressor, condensing coil and condenser fan along with various electrical components. If you feel warm out coming out of your vents or registers and the thermostat is calling for cooling, go outside to confirm that your Condensing Section is running.
  • Compressor – This is the primary component within the Condensing Section. The Compressor is essentially a pump that literally compresses refrigerant to a state of higher pressure and temperature. The Compressor is typically the most expensive component to replace. Sometimes, installing a Hard Start Kit can extend the life of the Compressor.
  • Condenser Coil – This is another important component within the Condensing Section and is the largest component. The Condenser Coil is wraps around most of the Condensing Section and features the metal fins. Upon leaving the Compressor, the refrigerant, in its gas state, is condensed back into a liquid state as the heat is expelled into the surrounding outside air. The Condenser Coil accomplishes this by dissipating heat from the metal fins that populate the exterior of the coil. The Condenser Coil should be cleaned regularly to operate at its best.
  • Air Handler – In a “split” AC System, this is located inside your home (typically installed in a closet) and includes a coil, a fan ad a few other components.  If you feel warm out coming out of your vents or registers and the thermostat is calling for cooling, your Air Handler’s evaporator coil might be frozen, which might trip a breaker. You can check your electrical panel to reset the breaker.
  • Evaporator Coil – This is the primary component within the Air Handler. As air from inside you home move across the Evaporator Coil, refrigerant within the coil absorbs the heat from the air and converts the refrigerant to gas. The air literally becomes cooler as the heat is absorbed. This is why the air feels cooler around your vents (also called “registers”). Regularly replacing your AC Filter helps the Evaporator Coil operate efficiently and reduces risk of repair.
  • Evaporator Fan and Blower Assembly – This is another important component within the Air Handler. The Evaporator Fan and Blower Assembly forces air across the Evaporator Coil and into your home’s ductwork. If the thermostat is calling for cooling but no air is coming out of your vents or registers, there might be a problem with this component.
  • Thermostat – The Thermostat is the brains of the AC System: It tells your AC System when to run, when to stop and to which temperature to cool your home. You can find more information about Thermostats here.
  • Ductwork Ductwork describes the system of ducts, typically within the attic or under the home, that are used to transport air throughout your home. This includes your vents, also called “registers.” Proper Ductwork installation is the key component of air quality and efficiency in your home.

Knowing and understanding your AC System – and how it works – can help you better explain your issue to your AC Today First Responder. This will also serve to make you an educated customer when you request an AC Today Maintenance Agreement proposal.

Please call AC Today or stop by our headquarters to have a cup of coffee and to ask one of System Specialists answer any questions and further explain any and all of the AC Lingo that you just learned.