Talking The Talk: Air Conditioning Terms to Know

Talking The Talk: Air Conditioning Terms to Know

Posted by
Ed Miller on Mon, Aug 12, 2013

Have you ever tried to get your air conditioning fixed?  Are you confused by so many different terms, even for the same components?  Florida weather is really hard on your AC system, and regular maintenance is needed to keep them running at top efficiency.  Use this handy guide to quickly come up to speed.

Below is a list of the most popular AC acronyms and terms and their definitions.  Each of these can be important if you are trying to decide whether or not you need a repair or even simple maintenance.


BTU – British Thermal Unit. This is a measure of heating capacity of your system.  Higher is better.

CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute. This measures the blowing power of your system.  Higher is better

dB – Decibel. Used to measure the loudness of a sound.  The compressor will have a dB rating, and the lower, the better.

EPA – Environmental Protection Agency. This is the government agency that oversees and enforces environmental regulations (such as the Energy Star program).

HVAC – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.  Usually pronounced as “H-Vac”.


Air flow – How much air your system is moving or blowing.  This will be measured in terms of CFM and will increase with the size and power of your air conditioning unit.

Air handler – The enclosure that contains the blower as well as the heating or cooling components.

Compressor – The unit that is outside your house.  This is the box that generates most of the noise.

Condenser coil – Usually located outside by the compressor, this unit either collects or releases heat, depending on whether you are using the heater or the air conditioner.

Ductwork – The method by which the heated or cooled air is delivered through your house.  Ductwork is often made of sheet metal and looks like a large, square tube.

Heat exchanger – This unit is inside the furnace and works by heating the surrounding air, which can then be pushed through the ductwork around the home.

Heat pump – An HVAC unit that works by moving heat.  In the summer, it moves heat from inside the home house to the outside.  In the winter, it does the opposite.

Horizontal flow – When the air handler is located on its side and transfers air in one end and out the other.  Frequently found in attics or crawl spaces.

Humidifier – A device that adds moisture to the air after it is heated before pushing it through the ductwork and into the individual rooms.

Humidistat – A device that automatically maintains the air moisture level, which is adjustable.

Particles – Any substance measuring less than 100 microns (one micron = one millionth of a meter).  These can include dust, pollen, or other pollutants in your HVAC system.

Refrigerant – Any chemical that introduces a cooling effect.  Most air conditioners use either R-22 or R-410a refrigerant.

Split system – An HVAC unit where some components are located inside the home and others are located outside the home.  Many houses have this system, with the compressor outside and the condenser and air handler on the inside.

Static pressure – The air pressure inside your ductwork.  If it is too high, it will affect the air flow in the ducts.

Thermidistat – Measures temperature and humidity and adjusts both to the desired level.



Thermostat – Usually found on the inside of the home, this unit allows the HVAC unit to be controlled by the touch of a button

Ton – A unit of measurement that determines the capacity of your air conditioning unit.  1 ton is equal to 12,000 BTU per hour.  Therefore, a 4-ton air conditioner can remove 48,000 BTU of heat from a home in one hour.

Upflow – When the air handler is installed in an upright position and pushes air out the top of the unit.  Frequently found in basement or closet installations.

Ventilator – A unit that moves recirculated indoor air outside and replaces it with fresh outside air.

Zoning – A way of separating the home into smaller sections that are independently controlled for heating and air conditioning.

Now that you can speak the HVAC language, isn’t it time to get yours serviced?  In the Jacksonville area, there is only one place to call:  Snyder Heating and Air Conditioning.  In business since 1973, they have the experience and professionalism that you can expect from a top-notch service.  They really know how to deal with AC systems in Florida weather!  If you need repairs, a simple check-up, or a complete system install, they can do it all.  Snyder Heating and Air is the place to go for the best quality work at the right price in Jacksonville!



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