A Homeowners Guide to HVAC Systems

homeowners guide to hvac in austin tx

You rely on your HVAC system to keep you comfortable, and yet you probably don’t think about it until it fails. Here’s what homeowners should know about their HVAC system so that they can keep it in good working order all year round!

How Does Your HVAC System Work?

An HVAC system is complicated, but here’s an easy lesson about the most important parts and what you can do to maintain them.

Electrical Components

You know you need electricity to power your HVAC system, so it’s a good idea to double-check your circuit breaker before scheduling heater or AC repair. It’s also possible that the batteries in your thermostat have died, so always have extras on hand.

Otherwise, there are a slew of small components within your HVAC system that rely on electricity. Even your gas furnace still needs electricity to run, unless it’s old fashioned enough to only need a few burning logs. 


Warm or cool air enters your living space through a series of ducts or channels, and that’s also the way the return air travels to the filter. It’s essentially air transportation, and you don’t want any roadblocks to get in the way of its journey. If there’s debris or clutter blocking the flow of air, it can force your AC or heater to work harder than it needs to in order to cool or heat your home– which leads to higher power bills. 

It’s a good idea to change your air filters every few months and to schedule professional duct cleaning every two to five years.

Air Return Components

The ventilation process removes what you don’t want in your living space (dust, smoke, odors, bacteria, carbon dioxide, and other gases), filters it, and then recirculates it back throughout your home. The components involved in this air exchange through the ductwork are the returns and the filter in the HVAC unit that captures the unwanted particles.

The returns are located in various rooms throughout your home, and are either on the floor or placed high up on a wall. Air travels through the ductwork by entering these returns and eventually makes its way to the filter for exchange and replacement. You can help the return process work better by regularly dusting these return vents.

As for your filter, take a look at it to see for yourself how dirty it can get within even a month’s time. You should replace your filter regularly – every three months if you do not have pets and every two months if you do.

Exhaust Vents

When it’s time to heat your home and you turn on the furnace, the flames from the lit burners get directed to a heat exchanger. Inside the heat exchanger, combustion occurs and it begins to heat up. Next, the heated air is directed inside the home, while dangerous gases like carbon monoxide are expelled through a venting pipe known as a flue. The flue then directs the gases outside of your home, through a chimney or another type of exhaust vent.

It’s safest to let a professional technician check your chimney or exhaust vent for blockages. During an annual tune-up, the technician will check for cracks, leaks, or blockages and will make necessary heater repairs so that carbon monoxide will not be directed inside your home. 

Blower Fan and Motor

The blower fan and motor work to push the warm or cold air through your ducts, so if you’re not adequately cooled or warmed, there may be a problem with this part of the HVAC system. Homeowners can check a couple of things before calling for service:

  1. Make sure there’s power in the unit by checking the circuit breaker; and 
  2. Examine your filters, and if they’re dirty, replace them immediately. 

If either of those two steps do not solve the problem, it’s time to schedule service with a professional technician.

The Outdoor Unit

Three vital components of the outdoor unit are the fan, the compressor, and the coils. The fan is responsible for the airflow, the compressor converts a refrigerant from a gaseous to a liquid state, and then this liquid is sent to the coils, where the air passes through them and becomes cooled. A homeowner can help maintain the outdoor unit by keeping it clear of dead leaves or other debris. You want to make sure there’s nothing around the unit that can be sucked up into it.

As for the compressor and coils, it’s a good idea to hire a professional firm to do an AC tune-up before it gets really hot. It’s less expensive to tune up a unit rather than repair it.

HVAC Maintenance in Austin

Homeowners can absolutely do their part to help keep their systems running efficiently, but our licensed HVAC technicians are licensed and trained to know every nook and cranny in your home’s system. We highly recommend scheduling an AC tune-up every year, ideally towards the end of winter or spring. We also offer 24/7 emergency AC repair and emergency heating repair year round, in case anything in your HVAC system goes awry. 

Daniel’s Austin has the most skilled and experienced technicians in the area, and we’ve been taking good care of our customers for several years. Whether you need HVAC repair or are planning to replace your existing system, you can rely on Daniel’s for superior service. Contact us to learn more about our award-winning services!

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