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Common Terms to Help You Better Understand Your Heating System

Technician checking a heating issue on furnace - Jarboe's Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling

Homeowners in Louisville, Kentucky want to understand their heating systems more. To best do this, many research common heating terms. These heating terms allow homeowners to better understand their heating systems on the whole. When homeowners know what each element means, they are able to piece together how the entire heating process works.

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling wants homeowners to feel confident in their HVAC knowledge. We list the most common heating terms out there to help homeowners learn the lingo. When searching through HVAC websites for new products or for repairs, it’s hard to sift through the information if you don’t know what half the terms mean. With this list, homeowners no longer have that problem.

Common Heating Terms for Homeowners in Louisville

Many homeowners face confusion when they look up heating products online. Every manufacturer uses the same language, but what does it all mean? If homeowners struggle with heating terms on one website, they have trouble on all of them. For this reason, Jarboe’s has this collection of terminology for homeowners in Louisville to reference when they need it.

We cover a wide variety of terms. Most heating terms fit into categories, so the definitions are in separate groups to make things easier to understand.

Heating Terms: Components and Appliances

The most important selection of terminology relates to heating systems themselves. These heating terms all relate to either components in heating units, or the units themselves.

  • Blower motor. The blower motor turns on the fans in the furnace to circulate the hot air into the home.
  • Burner. Burners create the heat furnaces and other heating devices use to warm homes. They do this through the combustion of air and gas.
  • Burner orifice. This is where the burner receives the gas or fuel it uses to create the heat.
  • Capacity. In HVAC terminology, capacity refers to the output any given heating unit produces.
  • Damper. Dampers are located in the duct work. These are sheet metal plates at the junction points in the ducts. They open and close to control air flow in certain areas.
  • Dehumidifier. Many know what dehumidifiers do for their home. In short, they remove moisture from the air to improve air quality. While there are portable dehumidifiers, some integrate into the heating system to provide whole home dehumidification.
  • Diffuser. Diffusers cover air supply ducts to control the distribution of air in calculated patterns or directions. For example, if you want the air in your home to flow from the front of the house to the back, a diffuser uses vanes to lead the air in the proper direction.
  • Duct work. As one of the most common heating terms, homeowners likely know this one already. Duct work refers to the system of ducts that allows air to flow through the home. The air exits from vents attached to the ducts.
  • Fan. Heating terms like these need little explanation. Fans blow the warm air through the ducts and out of the vents to heat the home.
  • Filter. Filters remove tiny particles from the air to improve the air quality. Some devices use multiple filters while others use one. Homeowners change filters on their own—frequency depends on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Flue. A flue is a component in furnaces. It removes combustion byproducts and makes sure they don’t enter the home. The byproducts are dangerous to the homeowner’s health, so it’s important to make sure the flue works properly.
  • Furnace. Furnaces use either electricity, propane, natural gas, or oil to heat homes. After heat creation takes place, it circulates through the home via fans, ducts, and vents. Out of all the heating terms, this one is the most obvious.
  • Heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are arguably the most important part of the furnace. Heat exchangers allow heat to transfer to the air. Without this component, the air never receives heat and doesn’t warm the home. Instead, cold air circulates.
  • Heating coil. These components are heat sources for the system which allow heat to be added to air.
  • Heat pump. This is another heating term most homeowners know. Heat pumps both heat and cool spaces via heat transfer. For example, in the winter heat pumps take the heat from outside and moves it through the home. In the summer, the opposite takes place.
  • Humidifier. Humidifiers add moisture back into the air. These are useful in the winter because the air is often drier and causes dry skin, nose bleeds, and other minor issues.
  • Ignition. Furnaces sometimes use electronic ignition to replace traditional pilot lights. These are the norm in new units. Rather than the flame on a pilot light, the electronic ignition uses an electrical current to start the furnace.
  • Packaged unit. This is a combined heating and cooling system in one outdoor unit.
  • Pilot light. As with the ignition, pilot lights start the furnace. However, pilot lights are not used as frequently in new systems. Hardly any new systems use a pilot light because they are not as safe to use as electronic ignition. These use natural gas or propane to create a small flame, but any leaks lead to explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Split system. Split systems are the combination of outdoor and indoor units. These are often more efficient and customizable than packaged units.
  • Thermostat. Thermostats allow homeowners to control the temperature in their homes. Types of thermostats vary, but most are programmable nowadays. This allows homeowners to set the temperatures they want in advance so they don’t have to manually change the temperature. Many now include temperature sensors to let the system know when to turn on and off.
  • Upflow furnace. An upflow furnace uses air from the bottom of the unit, and blows it out of the top. These units work best in basements and crawlspaces.
  • Vents. Vents allow the air from the furnace to enter the home. They attach to the ducts and are the last stop in the heating process.

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