Want to Understand Your HVAC Contractor? Learn These Basic HVAC Terms.

Want to Understand Your HVAC Contractor? Learn These Basic HVAC Terms.

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Furnace - You’re probably familiar with this term as the vast majority of Pierce County households depend on furnaces to provide heat. The word "furnace" comes from Latin “oven or kiln,” and it means to heat or warm. There are a few types of furnaces, including gas furnaces, electric furnaces, propane furnaces, and oil furnaces. Furnaces can also vary in terms of efficiencies, such as 80% gas furnace or 95% gas furnace. Hopefully that’s pretty straightforward. Furnaces are typically the largest part of the HVAC system and are usually located in the basement or garage, but can also be in an attic, crawl space, or closet. Furnaces moves hot air into the ductwork and warms the space.

Heat Exchanger – It is a system of repeatedly looped coils or tubes inside the furnace. The heat exchanger’s function is to heat up the air from the combustion chamber by running the air through the looped tubes or coils. It’s essential for your heat exchanger to be in a good working condition so that the air you breathe is safe from carbon monoxide.

Evaporator Coil - This is a part of an air conditioner or heat pump. It’s one of the two main components of your cooling system. It runs refrigerant through a series of pipes looping back and forth and absorbs heat from the air and makes it cool. After that, the cool air is blown into the ducts. If the coil isn’t properly taken care of, the refrigerant can leak and damage the coil. That’s why it’s important to have regular maintenance because fixing a small leak is less expensive than replacing an entire coil.

Condensing Unit - Similar to the evaporator coil - it raises the pressure of your condenser. That's what makes the most noise in the unit. It’s located in your outdoor HVAC unit. It has a heat exchange section that cools down and condenses incoming refrigerant vapor.  It works like an evaporator coil, but instead of producing cool air - it gives off heat.

Refrigerant Lines- As it sounds, refrigerant lines contains refrigerant. These u-shaped lines are made of metal and are set into panels to make the evaporator coil. They connect the condenser coil to the evaporator coil for both indoor and outdoor HVAC units.  Proper maintenance ensures these lines don’t leak and continue to do their job.

Thermostat - You’re probably familiar with this terms, so you know it controls the temperature of the room. It’s a small box located on the wall. There are different types of thermostats, including “smart” thermostats where you can automatically program the desired temperature of your room. 

Ducts and Ductwork - These are the large tubes that distribute cool air and warm heat into your home. Although most homes have ductwork, some new additions don’t.  In that case, ductless heat pumps would be a great alternative.

Vents - These are the rectangular plates that go over the ductwork opening and facilitate air moving in and out of the ductwork. Vents come in all shapes, sizes, and finishes.

Heat Pump - This is an air conditioner and heater in one. For Washington State, heat pumps are an energy efficient option to regular AC units and/or less efficient heating units, such as electric furnaces.

 

Tacoma’s Top Rated HVAC Specialists

Since 1992, Mercurio’s Heating & Air Conditioning has proudly served Tacoma, Bremerton, Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Federal Way, and all of Pierce County. Mercurio’s provides top-quality maintenance, repair, replacement, and installation services for heating, air conditioning, heat pump, ductless heat pump, and electrical systems. We've grown from a small, home-based family business into one of the largest and most well-respected HVAC, and electrical companies in Washington. Mercurio's is an Independent American Standard Dealer.

Contact Mercurio’s today to find out more about our products and services. We can also be reached at 253-566-8974.

What are the Differences Between a Heat Pump and an Air Conditioner?

What are the Differences Between a Heat Pump and an Air Conditioner?

We get asked this question a lot. “What is the difference between a heat pump and regular A/C”? In many ways an air conditioner and heat pump function in the same way. But, there are some differences that are especially significant to homeowners in the Tacoma, Bremerton, Gig Harbor, and Federal Way areas.

The biggest mechanical difference between a heat pump and air conditioner is that a heat pump can transfer heat in two different directions.

  1. Heat from the interior of your home to the exterior of your home. That results in cooling.
  2. And, it can also transfer heat from the exterior of your home to the interior of your home. That results in heating.

Similar to your car - a heat pump can go forward or reverse. But, an air conditioner can only transfer heat in one direction.

  1. Heat from the interior of your home to the exterior of your home. That results in cooling.

An air conditioner takes any heat from inside your home and sends it outside. Unlike a heat pump, A/C can only transfer heat in one direction (out), so it cannot heat your home.

The biggest functional differences between a heat pump and an air conditioner is:

A heat pump can also heat your home.

An air conditioner cannot supply heat.

 

What is the #1 Advantage of a Heat Pump over A/C?

More and more in our Pacific Northwest climate, we are using air conditioning 6-months out of the year. With a heat pump, you can affordably heat and cool your entire home or a single room with one system.

Depending on the heat pump model, most can heat more efficient than other energy sources, such as gas furnaces, electric furnaces, oil furnaces, etc. Also, heat pumps usually have a higher SEER* rating. So, in certain cases they can be more efficient than A/C’s, especially window mounted units.

* SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the unit's SEER rating, the more energy efficient it is. (source Wikipedia)

 

What is the Advantage of a Ductless Heat Pump?

A considerable advantage of a ductless heat pump is that it doesn’t need ductwork. So, if your ducts are old and need to be replaced; this could be a cost-effective solution.

Another use is if you have a space that never had ductwork in the first place, like an addition. You can get heat and air into the space quickly and easily.

Similar to a heat pump and air conditioner, a ductless heat pump has an outdoor unit; and a small indoor unit that hangs on the wall. You can see an example here.

A ductless heat pump is perfect for a bedroom or common living area that is hard to heat or cool. Ductless heat pumps are also one of the most efficient sources of heating and cooling.

 

Can a Heat Pump Completely Replace my Furnace?

The answer is yes. Heat pumps work very well in the Tacoma, Bremerton, Gig Harbor, and Federal Ways areas. So, rather than replace your furnace with a conventional gas, propane, oil, or electric furnace consider a heat pump. For instance, if you have an electric furnace, a heat pump is much more cost effective and will save you up to 70% in energy costs because it will be the primary source of heat for your home, and will only rely on an electric furnace as emergency “back-up” heat on those very cold days.

So, when the cold winter comes and your A/C is off your heat pump is still working. But instead of cooling your home, it’s heating it.

Also note, a whole house, or a central heat pump is installed using your existing ductwork. Therefore, all of the areas heated by your current system will continue to be heated and cooled with the heat pump.

 

How Do I Find out More About Rebates and Incentives for Heat Pumps?

Another great thing about heat pumps is rebates! Are you a Tacoma Power customer? If so, check out the links below. There are several rebates available for heat pumps.

●       Central Heat Pump Rebates - Up to $1,000 Instant Rebate or $10,000 Tacoma Power Loan (Seven-Year Term, Zero Interest).

●       Ductless Heat Pump Rebates - Up to $500 Instant Rebate or $4,000 Tacoma Power Loan (Seven-Year Term, Zero Interest)

●       Duct Sealing Rebates - Up to $450 Instant Rebate

You can also visit the federally funded NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s website to find out about available incentives in Washington State.

 

Tacoma's Heat Pump Specialists: Here To Save You Money & Keep You Comfortable

Since 1992, Mercurio’s Heating & Air Conditioning has proudly served Tacoma, Bremerton, Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Federal Way, and all of Pierce County. Mercurio’s provides top-quality maintenance, repair, replacement, and installation services for heating, air conditioning, heat pump, ductless heat pump, and electrical systems. We've grown from a small, home-based family business into one of the largest and most well-respected HVAC, and electrical companies in Washington. Mercurio's is an Independent American Standard Dealer.

Contact Mercurio’s today to find out more about our heat pump products and services.