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A Guide to How Your HVAC System Works

Many home and building owners have great interest in understanding how the important components in their buildings work, and the HVAC system is a great example. Knowing how your HVAC system works is helpful not only for peace of mind and curiosity, but also can be quite beneficial for understanding simple upgrades or repairs and even saving money or hassle on your system.

At Thompson’s Comfort Connection, we’re proud to assist clients around Sandy, Midvale, Draper, Cottonwood Heights, Riverton and nearby areas with all their HVAC needs, from furnace and air conditioning installation to AC repair, maintenance services and more. Here are some of the most important components often (or always) found in a typical HVAC system, plus how they work, how they interact with one another, and other bits of important information on each.


A constant presence in any HVAC system, the thermostat is essentially a control panel that regulates the temperature in your home or building. It reads the temperature and sends signals to either the heating, cooling or ventilation components of your HVAC system to adjust accordingly.

There are several varieties of thermostat, but the most common types include manual, programmable and smart thermostats. While manual thermostats require you to physically adjust the temperature settings, programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule for your HVAC system to run at certain temperatures at specific times of day. Smart thermostats take this a step further by allowing you to control your HVAC system remotely through a smartphone app, and can even learn your temperature preferences over time.


The furnace is the heart of any HVAC system – it’s responsible for heating the air that circulates throughout your home or building. The furnace’s burner ignites the fuel source, creating heat that is then transferred to the air by a heat exchanger. The blower fan then distributes this heated air through ductwork and into different rooms.

Furnaces can be powered by a variety of energy sources, including gas, oil, electricity and even solar power. They can also come in different types such as single-stage, two-stage or modulating furnaces that offer varying levels of heating output.

Air Conditioner

The AC component of an HVAC system is responsible for cooling the air that circulates through your home or building. Similar to furnaces, there are various types of air conditioners with different efficiency levels and energy sources. The most common type is the split system, which consists of an outdoor unit containing a compressor and condenser coil, and an indoor unit that contains the evaporator coil.

The cooling process starts when warm air from inside your home or building enters the AC’s evaporator coil, where it is cooled by refrigerant. This cooled air is then circulated back into your home, while the refrigerant absorbs heat and is sent outside to be released by the condenser coil.

Heat Pump

In some alternative HVAC systems, a heat pump may be used instead of an air conditioner and furnace setup. The heat pump works by transferring heat from outside to inside your home in the winter, and vice versa in the summer. It essentially uses electricity to move heat from one place to another, rather than generating it through a fuel source.

Air Handler

Yet another possible alternative to the typical furnace and AC setup is an air handler, which is similar to a furnace but does not burn fossil fuels. Rather, the air handler works in conjunction with the air conditioner or heat pump to circulate air throughout your home or building. It contains a blower fan, heating and cooling coils, and filters to improve air quality.


The ductwork in an HVAC system is responsible for distributing heated or cooled air throughout a building. It is made up of a series of pipes that carry this conditioned air from the furnace or AC to different rooms, and also return air back to the HVAC system for recirculation.

Properly designed and installed ductwork is crucial for an efficient HVAC system. Leaks or gaps in ductwork can lead to energy loss, uneven heating or cooling, and higher utility bills. It’s important to have your ductwork regularly inspected and sealed if needed.

Air Filter

Another of the most important components in an HVAC system is the air filter. This simple but essential part helps to trap dust, debris, and other particles from entering your HVAC system and recirculating throughout your home or building. Regularly changing your air filter is key for maintaining good indoor air quality and keeping your HVAC system running smoothly.

Understanding how these important components work together in an HVAC system can help you better maintain and care for your own system. If you have any questions or need assistance with your HVAC in Sandy, Midvale, Draper, Cottonwood Heights, Riverton or nearby areas, don’t hesitate to contact Thompson’s Comfort Connection. Our experienced technicians are always happy to help!


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